Fleetwood Coxswain James Turner in the 1870s and Wells Coxswain/Mechanic Allen Frary in 2011Photo: (on the right) RNLI/Nigel Millard
Fleetwood Coxswain James Turner in the 1870s and Wells Coxswain/Mechanic Allen Frary in 2011

One of the first tasks for the new secretary was to carry out an audit of the RNLI's assets and lifeboats.

The picture Lewis gained was not a rosy one.  As he recalled nearly 25 years later, many of the lifeboats had fallen into decay or had simply ceased to exist. For example, in response to Lewis’s inquiry about the lifeboat at Penzance which had been stationed there by the institution in 1826, he was advised by the Lloyds Agent that it had been broken up more than 20 years’ previously.

Lewis and his colleagues realised that providing a small payment to coxswains would help ensure that lifeboats were kept in good repair and ready for service.

Today, this role is performed by a station mechanic or coxswain/mechanic