Stephen Cook The Lifeboatman
The Lifeboatman

STEPHEN COOK 1855 – 1923

Stephen Cook was born 24th Dec 1855 the son of Stephen Cook, mariner and Grandson of John Cook, mariner and smuggler. He came from a family with a history of fishing. He married Sarah Ann Hughes 2nd June 1877 and had eight children. He was a member of the Lifeboat crew from the launch of the first Folkestone Lifeboat in 1893 and was Coxwain 1897 – July 1919. While he was Coxwain the lifeboat was launched 14 times and saved 19 lives.

He received four medals: Mercantile Marine for War service 1914–18; British War Medal; Silver Medal of the Lifeboat Institution and the medal of the French Society, Sauveteurs D.L.S.F.D.L.M. Ville de Paris. These are sadly no longer in the family and I would really like to know what happened to them. If they are in somebody′s collection I would really appreciate a photograph of them.

I will let The newspaper, his obituary and Funeral Service speak for his life.



Coxswain and Assistant Retire

Presentation to Mr S. Cook

(NOTE: The article began with the business of the Lifeboat committee. Mr S. Cook was Co–opted on to the lifeboat committee.)

It was stated that the Committee had received with much regret the resignation of Mr S Cook who had served for 21 ¾ years and his Assistant Mr Edmund Major. Mr William Henry Baker was elected the new Coxswain & Mr Walter Walters as Assistant Cox.
Mr Cook was presented with “a testimonial framed from the parent Society as a certificate of admirable services he had rendered for 21 years. It was for FAITHFUL SERVICES WITH THE BOAT. They had been extremely fortunate in having the services of such a good man as Mr Cook and wished him many years of happiness” this came with a pension from RNLI and if anyone deserved it he did! Mr Major had served almost as long.
“Mr Cook said it had been a labour of love to serve under the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. If at any time he heard the maroon he was sure he would be there if his health permitted” ..... Article continued.

(This fragile newspaper could not be copied for full transcription of the long article.)




We regret to state that MR STEPHEN (“STEVE”) COOK died on Wednesday, at 13, The Durlocks. He was sixty–eight years of age.

MR COOK was born at Folkestone and had resided here all his life, following the occupation of a fisherman. He was the nephew of the late MR WILLIAM COOK, a popular local temperance advocate and one of the first to adopt the blue ribbon badge associated with the temperance movement of many years ago.

The late “STEVE” COOK as he was more generally known, was very highly esteemed by those of his own calling, as he was by a large number of the inhabitants. No eulogy could be written of him better than that he was a good man and an upright citizen. He was blest with an even temperament, was slow of speech, and notable for his common sense. He was one of that type of men who by his sterling qualities draws others to him. If there was any trouble down the fishmarket way, or a problem that needed solution, instinctively those affected turned to “STEVE” COOK. His lips were never soiled with scandal: he always thought the best, not the worst, of anyone.

In his calling as a fisherman he had no peer in this port. He was owner of his boat, and what he did not know of the habits of fish and the currents and tides of the Channel was not worth knowing. He always held the idea that fishing ought to be a paying proposition, and he followed out that idea with success. There was a time when, if there were no fish about in these waters, he would sail his boat right down the Channel to the Devonshire or Cornish coasts, and there he would stay for a considerable period success generally being his reward.

For some years deceased was coxswain of the local lifeboat, The Leslie, and he was ever ready at duty′s call. It will be remembered that he figured prominently in the rescue of the crew of the fishing boat Good Intent (of which MR JOHN SAUNDERS was master). This little vessel and another from Eastbourne, named the Pride and Envy, were smashed to pieces one stormy night on the rocks. The crew of the former were rescued, but those on board the latter were drowned. “The Herald” of October 8th 1904, referring to the part STEVE took in the rescue said:
“It was a moment that will long be remembered by all who lined the jetties as they peered into the stern of the lifeboat as she came within call. “Have they got the crews” but not a soul ventured to remark upon the result of the lifeboat′s expedition. Two minutes later and an excited fisherman shouted “Have you got ‘em ‘Cookie’?” Back came the reply from the coxswain. “We have got Jack SAUNDERS.” Another query. “And his crew?” was shouted in the darkness, and as readily came the answer “Yes!” This was the signal for a tremendous cheer from the crowd. But no sooner had it died away than the coxswain of the lifeboat was asked, “What about the other boat?” In a mournful tone COOK replied “She’s gone down.” And when as though in fear a fisherman asked, “Have you got her crew?” the large crowds which had been listening to the conversation were awe–stricken by the reply “No, they have gone down too.”

About four years ago deceased resigned the post of coxswain, and became an active member of the Committee of the local branch of the National Lifeboat Institution. He was also on the Committee of the Philip Sassoon Model Dwelling Association, and a member of the Conservative Association Executive Committee. MR COOK was one of the founders of the flourishing True Blue Friendly Society, which was founded by the REV. JEFFERY, the then Pastor of the Baptist Church. At the time of his death he was still on the Committee of the Society and one of its trustees.

MR COOK was presented with four decorations, viz. Mercantile Marine for War service 1914–18; British War Medal; Silver Medal of the Lifeboat Institution for services rendered on the occasion of the wreck of the Good Intent; and the medal of the French Society, Sauveteurs D.L.S.F.D.L.M. Ville de Paris.

The deceased, who was a member of the Baptist Church, was held in the highest esteem by the Pastor and the deacons.

The Funeral will take place on Monday afternoon.

DECEMBER 8th 1923.


With every manifestation of respect the remains of the late MR STEPHEN (Steve) COOK, coxswain of the lifeboat, were laid to rest in the Cemetery on Monday afternoon, the first part of the service being held in the Tontine Street Congregational Church, the Pastor (the REV. H. T. COOPER) officiating.

The following were the principle mourners: MR and MRS S. COOK (son and daughter–in–law), MR and MRS W. COOK (son and daughter–in–law), MR A. COOK (son), MR and MRS W. COOK (son and daughter–in–law), MR and MRS R. STOKES (son–in–law and daughter), MR and MRS RIDDALL (son–in–law and daughter), MR and MRS GRAHAM (son–in–law and daughter), MR W. STOKES (sister) MRS JONES.

Others present included the coxswain and members of the Lifeboat crew, members of the Committee of the local branch of the National Lifeboat Institution, viz., ALDERMAN SIR STEPHEN PENFOLD (chairman), MR R. DAWSON, COLONEL A. ATKINSON, COLONAL J. J. CONGDON, MR A. C. ALLEN, AND MR RICHARD WHITE (Secretary), MR E. J. MORRISON, J.P.; MR R. CLARK (representing the Conservative and Unionist Association), MR C. BOXER, and MR G. L. POPE. Several members of the True Blue Society, and local fishermen were also present.

The hymn “For Ever with the Lord” was feelingly sung. MR G. D. COOPER expressively played “O Rest in the Lord” as the cortege entered the church, and at the close Handel′s “Dead March” in “Saul.” At the cemetery a considerable number gathered around the grave, to which the remains were carried by members of the Lifeboat crew.

There were floral tributes from the following: All his old children; ELLA, MARY AND BILLY; UNCLE ALF and AUNT CLARA; UNCLE GEORGE, AUNT LIZZIE and FAMILY; UNCLE WILLIAM AND FRED BROOKES; SIR PHILIP SASSOON, M.P. G.B.E. C.M.G.; “A tribute of respectful admiration to STEPHEN COOK for 22 years coxswain of the Folkestone Lifeboat, from the Committee, Management and Secretary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; The Chairman, Committee, and Hon. Secretary of the Folkestone branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; President and members of the True Blue Benefit Society; Borough of Hythe Conservative and Unionist Association; “With deepest sympathy from the Folkestone Lifeboat crew”; “With deepest sympathy from the Committee and members of the Hythe Lifeboat crew”; Friends at North Street; MR and MRS B. STOKES and FAMILY; MR and MRS J STOKES; MR F. STOKES and FAMILY; JENNY and FAMILY; MR and MRS G. STOKES; MARTIN WINSER, LTD; MR and MRS KINGSMILL and MR and MRS ABBOTT; MR and MRS WILLIS and MR and MRS KNIGHT; MR and MRS PAGE; MR and MRS J. HOWELL; MR PHILIP DAWSON; MR W. HART; COUNCILLOR and MRS W. B. BANKS; MESSRS ADAMS and HART; MR and MRS W. J. SAUNDERS; MR and MRS POWELL; GEORGE and ALICE HALL; MR and MRS T., and MISS B FULLAGER (Woodchurch); MR J. HOWELL; COLONEL and MRS CONGDON; MR and MRS T. BAKER; MR W. MUDDLE; MR J. OVENDEN; HILDA.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. HAMBROOK and JOHNS.

The Folkestone Herald – 8th December 1923

COOK The family of the late Mr Stephen COOK (“Steve”) desire to express their sincere thanks to all those kind friends who have sympathised with them in their recent heavy bereavement. They also specially wish to express their gratitude to the Folkestone and Hythe Lifeboat Crews, to the members of the Folkestone True Blue Society and the Borough of Hythe Conservative and Unionist Association. They also thank all those who sent the beautiful floral tributes on the occasion of the funeral.

THE TIMES 29th November 1923

MR STEPHEN COOK for 30 years coxwain of the Folkestone lifeboat, died in Folkestone yesterday at the age of 70.

(Oh dear! Not a very accurate article)

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