New play recalls lifeboat tragedy

Mary Stanford lifeboat memorial
Mary Stanford lifeboat memorial

A new musical play called Mary’s Boys is being staged by The Haven Players at Eastbourne College Theatre in late October.

Written by Langney Primary School head teacher Darren Vallier and his two colleagues Gaynor Newnham and Michelle Pollard, it portrays the true story of the 17-man crew of the Mary Stanford lifeboat launched in the early hours of November 15th, 1928, during the worst storm that Rye Harbour had ever seen. The men were answering a call to a cargo ship in distress eight miles off Dungeness.

Tragically, after rowing out they found the ship had sunk and unbeknown to them the crew had already been rescued by the ship that had collided with them.

Exhausted, they rowed the eight miles back but just short of Rye the storm and sea was too much and capsized the lifeboat and all lost their lives to the waves.

Although predominately a sad story, it is set over two days and portrays the humour and camaraderie of the crew, many local fishermen and brothers, and their families. Blended with original songs and music it is an emotional story and a tribute to the families of Rye Harbour.

The show is at Eastbourne College Theatre, Old Wish Road, October 24-26, nightly 7.30pm with a 2.30pm matinee on Saturday, October 26.

Tickets online from or call (01323) 767816.

Above: The Mary Stanford Lifeboat memorial at Rye Harbour.