John Cassell, Quiver and the Aldeburgh lifeboat

Lifeboatman in 1908 on the cover of Quiver magazine from a photograph by Swinburne, Aldeburgh

Lifeboatman on the cover of a 1908 Quiver magazine from a photograph by Swinburne, Aldeburgh

Take a trip to the seaside town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk and one of the sights, alongside the Adnams in the White Hart, the fish and chips and the Moot Hall, is a modern-day lifeboat station. The photograph of this lifeboatman with his bulky cork lifejacket on the cover of a 1908 copy of Quiver magazine is credited to ‘Swinburne, Aldeburgh’. I thought it was James Cable, who was associated with the lifeboat for 50 years, 30 of them as coxswain, from 1888 to 1917. However, Catherine Howard-Dobson, a volunteer curator at Aldeburgh Museum, which is in the Moot Hall, tells me it is probably of another lifeboatman, Charlie Mann, who took over as coxswain and then did this legendary job until 1929. In fact, Charlie’s father, William Mann, was awarded a Silver Medal with Cable in 1891 for their heroism in rescuing the crew of a Norwegian barque, Winnifred of Laurvig. William Mann was then assistant coxswain, and Charlie took over from him in the post in 1903 when his father died.

The original photograph of lifeboatman Charlie Mann used for the Quivermagazine  cover is held by Aldeburgh Museum

The original photograph of lifeboatman Charlie Mann used for the Quiver magazine cover is not on display but can be seen at Aldeburgh Museum

Incredibly, the museum actually has the same photograph of Charlie Mann, and she sent me the image seen here. Note that the background has been removed on the Quiver cover and replaced so the flat colour can be extended up under the magazine’s masthead. Also, Mann’s shoulder on the cover is wider to the right than the photograph. This would certainly have been possible for the magazine’s in-house touch-up artists (and so many people today think image manipulation only came in with  Photoshop!).

Catherine has tried to find out about the photographer, but nothing precise has turned up. However, she has a theory: ‘There was a family living in Snape with the name Swinburne in 1911. The father was a retired inspector of schools and the son a priest. I imagine these to be the kind of people who would have the time and equipment to take photographs in 1908; this is only conjecture.’ Without jumping to conclusions, Catherine’s idea rings true because the religious leanings of the family chime with the religious bent of Quiver.

Quiver carried appeals to raise funds for various good causes – and a particular favourite appears to have been the lifeboats. John Cassell, in his history of the company, mentions that by 1922 its readers had contributed £15,000 to various funds, including the biggest sum, £2,662, to the Lifeboat Institution.

Quiver was a fiction-focused monthly from book publisher Cassell, which was based at La Belle Sauvage on Ludgate Hill, just down from St Paul’s Cathedral. Cassell had moved into the 15th-century building during the 1850s, but the former inn was demolished in 1873 to make way for a railway viaduct, with the company building new premises behind.

John Cassell, the company’s founder, came up with the magazine’s concept and strategy in 1861:

I have got the title, the Quiver — a case for arrows, and we can have long arrows and short arrows — arrows, however, which shall wing their flight and tell their tale, all coming from this quiver of ours.

It was described as:

John Cassell’s New Weekly Journal, designed for the Defence and Promotion of Biblical Truth and the Advance of Religion in the Homes of the People. [The Quiver] will be evangelical and unsectarian in its character, having for its grand aim the intellectual, moral, and spiritual improvement of its readers. Its staff of contributors will include some of the ablest writers in the sphere of religious literature, irrespective of denominational differences.

The magazine changed its format several times over the years and fewer of the contents had a religious theme, though the magazine never forgot its roots. Quiver closed in 1926.

The Story of the House of Cassell by John Cassell (1922)

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One Response to “John Cassell, Quiver and the Aldeburgh lifeboat”

  1. Scarf cartoon warning to Isadora Duncan | Magforum Says:

    […] cartoon was carried in Cassell’s Penny magazine with the three frames broken up by jokes. Cycling was still a relatively new sport […]

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