Unique postcards recording tragic drowning smash auction price

1st Carlton Colville Air Scout Group Leader Veronica Duff with some of the postcards.

1st Carlton Colville Air Scout Group Leader Veronica Duff with some of the postcards. - Credit: Mick Howes

A unique photographic record highlighting historical connections to a tragic drowning has "come home" after selling for more than five times it was expected to fetch at auction.

The tragic events of June 1, 1914 saw three Sea Scouts, their two Scout Masters and a naval instructor drown when their boat capsized on the river Waveney at Somerleyton.

Now, a set of postcards commemorating the event have been brought home by a Lowestoft scout group.

The Carlton Colville Sea Scouts from the 1st Carlton (St Marks) troop were returning from a week’s camping on the Duke’s Head hills and were rowing back to Oulton Broad when their boat capsized.

They were scoutmaster Thornton Lory, a Lowestoft solicitor, James Lewington, 34, an ex-naval instructor, assistant scoutmaster Sydney Scarle, 18, and scouts Reginald Middleton, 14, Arthur Beare, 14, and Sydney Thrower, 16.

One of the postcards highlighting the sea scout tragedy.

One of the postcards highlighting the sea scout tragedy. - Credit: Mick Howes

Another Sea Scout, 17-year-old Stanley Wood, was the only survivor.

As the unique collection of images went under the hammer in Norfolk, a representative from 1st Carlton Colville Air Scout Group attended the auction at Keys of Aylsham last Wednesday and despite competitive bidding, won the lot.

Delighted group scout leader Veronica Duff said: “It’s good that the photos have come home to the troop.

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"1st Carlton (St Marks) Sea Scouts were the forerunners of the current 1st Carlton Colville Air Scouts and were based near St Marks Church before the group changed to Air Scouts and moved to where we are now at St Georges Road in Pakefield.

"We will take good care of the postcards and will probably get them framed.

One of the Carlton Colville Sea Scouts tragedy photocards

One of the Carlton Colville Sea Scouts tragedy photocards. - Credit: Mick Howes

"We will have to decide what to do with the original press cutting which was part of the lot and is over 100-years-old and rather delicate.

"I would like to thank Paul Howard who went to the auction on our behalf and made the successful bid.”

Mr Howard said: “I heard that memorial postcards showing images from the 1914 drowning tragedy and taken by photographer H Jenkins had come up for auction.

"It is unusual for such a set to come up for sale."

With the auctioneers estimating the lot might fetch between £80 to £100, Mr Howard said: "I spoke to Veronica and Paul Allerton, the chairman, about the idea of bidding for the postcards and both were enthusiastic.

"I decided to go to the auction rooms in Aylsham rather than bid online.

"Bidding started quite gently at £60 but then it rose to eventually reach £410.

"There was quite a bit of interest with three others bidding for it in the room as well as an online bidder.

"After the sale a dealer approached me about the other postcards in the collections that didn’t relate to the tragedy but showed drifters and old scenes of Lowestoft to see if the group was interested in selling them with the proceeds helping to offset the cost.

"I am a former 1st Carlton Colville cub any way so was pleased to obtain them for the troop.

One of the Carlton Colville Sea Scouts tragedy photocards

One of the Carlton Colville Sea Scouts tragedy photocards. - Credit: Mick Howes

"I am happy to have played a small part in their purchase

"As a lad in the cubs we used to go to the memorial in Carlton Church cemetery once a year and in fact I still go with others to clean it now.

"The group still goes every Remembrance Day and lays a wreath on the memorial.

"Ironically the only boy who was saved from the tragedy was later killed in the First World War.

"I wanted the postcards as a tribute to those involved.”

1st Carlton Colville Air Scout Group Leader Veronica Duff with some of the postcards.

1st Carlton Colville Air Scout Group Leader Veronica Duff with some of the postcards. - Credit: Mick Howes

Mrs Duff added: “I was really pleased when I saw the postcards, even though the total cost was £520.80 when auction commission costs and VAT was added.

“Our bank balance is reasonably healthy, but we might have a fundraiser specifically for the postcards.

"A small donation has already been made towards the cost and we may try to get some of the cost back by selling the other postcards.

“I had no idea that the funeral was such a sizeable event, and the memorial postcards are a fitting record of the sad accident.”