Seaham Harbour Lifeboat Disaster Song Recorded At College

Sun, 14/01/2001 - 00:00

East Durham College was proud to host and help produce a very special recording of a song about the George Elmy Lifeboat tragedy which happened off the coast of Seaham nearly 50 years ago.

The East Durham Heritage Group approached the College to ask if they could use the recording studio to record the song called ‘Seaham Harbour Lifeboat Disaster’, so they could produce CDs to help raise funds towards the restoration of George Elmy.

A group of over 20 school children sang on the track along with Seaham born and internationally renowned operatic baritone Sir Thomas Allen CBE.

The children, from Years 3 to 6, were all from local Seaham schools; St Cuthbert’s R.C. Primary School, Ropery Walk Primary School , Seaview Primary School, St. Mary Magdalen's R.C. Primary School, Seaham Trinity Primary School and Westlea Primary School.

Sir Thomas, who travelled from London where he now lives, said: “It has been a privilege to be involved with The George Elmy Lifeboat Project and to help to contribute to this special recording.

“I can still picture the sea and waves that day, I’ve never seen it look that rough before or since.

“The tragic events affected the whole community and deeply touched everybody who lived in Seaham. I’m proud to be part of this fundraising effort.”

The guitar on the track was played by guitar maker Terry Docherty, from Ashington, who was asked to play on the track by the song’s writer Ed Pickford.

The song was written in 1962 (the year of the disaster) by Ed Pickford, a folk singer/songwriter who lives in Roker.

The East Durham Heritage Group purchased the George Elmy for £1,800 when Brian Scollen saw her for sale on eBay in April 2009. Since then they have been raising funds to restore George Elmy to her former glory. The target was in excess of £95,000.

The boat is currently in South Shields where the restoration is underway and the group hope ‘she will be coming home’ to Seaham next June - 50 years since the disaster, in which 9 people lost their lives.

The dead included all five crew members of the George Elmy and four fishermen they had just rescued, one of whom was a 9 year old boy. Only one person, who was on the fishing coble Economy, survived.

For detail on how to purchase a copy of the CD please contact Brian Scollen on 0191 581 7240 or 07742 487 804 or email at

Seaham Harbour Lifeboat Disaster Lyrics

Go to sleep, little one, though your daddy’s far away

He lies asleep in a watery grave

In Seaham Harbour Bay, my son,

In Seaham Harbour Bay


In 1962, November gales did blow, and the rain battered down

On our cottage so small

Down on this earth below, my son,

Down on this earth below


And then we heard the news, that out there on the sea,

There were men and a boy

In a small fishing coble, they called Economy, my son,

They called Economy


So with the lifeboat crew, your Daddy set to sail ‘gainst wind and storm to sail
that sea

In the bold George Elmy, my son,

In the bold George Elmy


The sea it thundered and roared, but still your daddy sailed on,

Sailed on till he reached those men and that boy

And got them safe on board, my son,

And got them safe on board


And then they turned about, they signalled to the land,

Our job is complete and we’re coming home,

Safe from the salt sea foam, my son,

Safe from the salt sea foam


But then the boat did lurch, keeled over in the bay

Eight men and a boy in that cold, cold sea

Were drowned that dreadful day, my son,

Were drowned that dreadful day


But one man lived to mourn, and one man lived to tell

Of the small, small boy who was drowned in that sea

Of the boy who was his son, Great God,

Of the boy who was his son


Go to sleep, little one though your Daddy’s far away

He lies asleep in a watery grave

In Seaham Harbour Bay, my son.