Big screen treatment for Lynmouth lifeboat legend

11:14 16 April 2014

The 1899 Louisa crew.

The 1899 Louisa crew.

Archant

The famous 1899 Overland Launch of Lynmouth lifeboat is retold at a premiere of a new documentary — plus plans are afoot for a big screen motion picture of the dramatic events.

Descendents of Louisa coxswain Jack Crocombe with the lifeboat cake created to mark the film launch and their ancestor's 160th birthday. Pictured are Christinbe Filmore, Hugh Lane, Pat Sharp, Peter Lane, Rosemary Davison, Judith Markes and John Richards.Descendents of Louisa coxswain Jack Crocombe with the lifeboat cake created to mark the film launch and their ancestor's 160th birthday. Pictured are Christinbe Filmore, Hugh Lane, Pat Sharp, Peter Lane, Rosemary Davison, Judith Markes and John Richards.

TANTALISING news of a major motion picture about the famous overland launch of the Lynmouth lifeboat was revealed at a packed premiere of a new documentary on Friday.

The gathering at Lynmouth Pavilion marked the first public showing of The Journey of the Louisa, a new DVD celebrating one of history’s greatest maritime rescues and created by Lynton hotelier Ken Blakey.

Now the big screen is set to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of the 1899 lifeboat crew and the two communities who hauled it the 13 miles across Exmoor during a storm to launch at Porlock and go to the aid of the stricken ship.

Filming of the movie is expected to begin in and around Lynmouth, Exmoor and Porlock this autumn, directed by Simon J Miller, and produced by David and Maralyn Reynolds of Flat-Broke Films Ltd, in association with Next Dimension Entertainment.

Members of Ilfracombe RNLI pictured with some of the 1999 overland launch re-enactment crew, standing before images of the original 1899 Louisa crew and the re-enactors.Members of Ilfracombe RNLI pictured with some of the 1999 overland launch re-enactment crew, standing before images of the original 1899 Louisa crew and the re-enactors.

The cast remains hush hush, but British actress Emily Baxter was presented on Friday as ‘Daisy Crocombe’, daughter of lifeboat coxswain Jack Crocombe, who led the community to supreme endeavours on that stormy night.

The Pavilion event was held to coincide with Jack’s 160th birthday, and six of his direct descendents were also in attendance.

The overland launch was re-enacted in 1999, as people and horses sought to recreate the incredible journey.

Ken Blakey’s documentary combines state-of-the-art computer graphics mixed with real-time footage along the route, as well as narration by fellow hotelier Russ Meyers.

Louisa director Simon J Miller and actress Emily Baxter listen as producer Maz Reynolds reads a poem celebrating the heroics of the 1899 lifeboat crew.Louisa director Simon J Miller and actress Emily Baxter listen as producer Maz Reynolds reads a poem celebrating the heroics of the 1899 lifeboat crew.

The pair, who run Lee House and the Seawood Hotel respectively, said they wanted to promote Lynton and Lynmouth through one of the area’s greatest stories.

DVD narrator Russ said many people thought of Lynton and Lynmouth because of the Flood Disaster of 1952, but there were so many stories to tell, of which the lifeboat launch was one.

Big screen beckons?

The crew of the 1999 Louisa re-enactment begin to wonder what they have signed up for.The crew of the 1999 Louisa re-enactment begin to wonder what they have signed up for.

An even wider cinema audience could be about to discover the inspiring story, thanks to producer David Reynolds, who came across the account of the Louisa when he visited the area seven years ago and realised it would make ‘a brilliant’ motion picture.

“Obviously it’s a dramatisation of events and this particularly concentrates on Jack Crocombe’s family and his daughters,” he said.

Simon Miller added: “Essentially it was two communities pulling together and for me that’s the story of the Louisa. It will be very dramatic, we will be filming here in Lynmouth, and using the toll road at Porlock.

Jack Crocombe, the coxswain of the Lousia on that night in 1899.Jack Crocombe, the coxswain of the Lousia on that night in 1899.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have shown their interest, in a really tight community that’s still as tight as it was over 100 years ago.

“To me, the RNLI is about saving lives and what we have got to do is put that on the big screen so that everyone can see what these volunteers do.”

Proud to this day

Pat Sharp from Lynton, who Jack’s great-great-granddaughter, said all the descendents were very proud of their ancestors’ achievements.

“I am very proud, as I think we all are, of what they did and how they did it,” she told the Gazette.

“We always presumed they came back from the launch and then had their day jobs to go to!”

Another descendents of Jack Crocombe, Christine Filmore, added: “We as descendents have grown up with the story, right from childhood. What has been wonderful today is meeting up with long lost relatives that we haven’t seen for years.”

Copies of the DVD The Journey of the Louisa are available from Jo Backhouse on 01598 753562 or jobackhouse@btinternet.com

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