The seventh decade of the nineteenth century is winding to a close to the sounds of mortars and rockets that shook a nation nearly to death. Eastward, across the storm tossed Atlantic however, the crew of a large fishing vessel has little thought for the civil war of a rebellious colony. They might have taken sides against a humanitarian crime, but now the full force of a North Atlantic gale as crushed their ship of oak and hemp into the rocks that ring the coast of Great Brittan. The stable shore is merely fifty yards away, the lights of cottages clearly visible through the driving rain. But the lifeboats have no chance in the pounding waves. It might as well be the full distance behind them to the war torn colony. Then a flash of light as a red lantern is waved frantically on the shore. The Captain waves his own signal in reply and a breath of hope goes through the crew. There is a boom of gunpowder faintly audible through the storm and a blaze of fire arches up from the cluster of men on the shore. The rocket files over the stricken vessel and splashes into the water on the far side. The fishermen leap to the cord that now straddles the boat and secure it solidly to the broken mast. A Breeches Buoy comes swinging over the water and the first sailor is loaded in. One by one the men are pulled off of the doomed vessel, the Captain leaving his boat behind with a single pained look. On shore they are greeted with warm blankets and hot tea. The ship is soon torn from the rocks and dashed to pieces. The rocket that saved their lives is loaded back onto its wagon and carried back to its shed by the Rocket Crew.
A scene such as the one above played out so often off of British controlled coasts that it is estimated over a thousand lives were saved between the time these lifesaving devices were invented and the time their inventor passed away.
What I want to know is where is the BBC drama series based around the lives of the Rocket Men of the Royal National Institution for Saving Life from Shipwreck? Come on, rockets, danger, history? Get on that BBC!
Also who on earth is in charge of naming things in Britten?