Author publishes tales of Margate Surfboat tragedy and North Foreland Lighthouse

Author Richard Stacpoole-Ryding

Two Thanet local history books have been produced by writer  Richard Stacpoole-Ryding with research from the isle’s Alf Beeching.

The first major work deals in depth for the first time with the tragedy in 1897 when the Margate Surfboat was overturned in a huge swell off the Nayland Rock in Margate. Nine men drowned and four survived.

To celebrate the Centenary in 1997 Mr Beeching encouraged a 12 year old schoolgirl to help him create a small booklet. This was successful in raising money for the late Mayor Roy Ford for his good causes. Schoolgirl Janice Sheppard was created the first ever young citizen of Margate.

Now Richard Stacpoole-Ryding has rewritten the pamphlet and converted it into a book of 337 pages with illustrations. He has also completed a small book called History of North Foreland Lighthouse.

Richard’s interest in Thanet began in the 1950s when he came to stay in Broadstairs with his grandmother. His family moved to the town in 1962 and Richard attended St. Peter’s CE Primary School and then Charles Dickens. He then worked in London before joining the Royal Air Force.

The Friend of All Nations on her carriage. Circ 1860

After demob he joined the British Transport Police before going on to the H.M. Prison Service, between 2002 and 2018 he worked in the security industry until retirement.

Jones family used in the charity appeal

He lives with partner Nicola and son Christopher in Sittingbourne but has always considered Broadstairs as his home town and has a close affinity with the town.

He specialises in Thanet history and the Battle of Maiwand and has published a number of books.

These include this year’s The History of the North Foreland Lighthouse and Oh Dear. Oh Lor. She’s Going Over! Which is the tale of the Margate Surfboat.

The Daily Graphic Sketches depicting scenes following the tragedy

He is also a regular contributor to Medal News magazine. Next year Richard has two more books scheduled for publication, The History of the Broadstairs Lifeboat Station and The History of the Kingsgate Lifeboat Station.

The Friend to All Nations at the re-naming ceremony on 23 September 1922 following the installation of her new engine

Research contributions come from Thanet’s Alf Beeching, who has also penned a number of local history articles and books, and images from Chris Sandwell.

Horse drawn brake outside the lighthouse

To buy copies of the books copies email at [email protected] and Richard will  supply details of the cover price, postage and packing availability.


  1. I’m sure the authors will have the correct information in the new book but the “Friend to All Nations” shown in the 1922 ‘renaming’ ceremony, was not the boat that disaster struck in 1897.

    Although that boat was salvaged she never returned to service.

  2. Not sure that ”celebrate” is a good term to use to mark the centenary of an event where 9 lives were lost…

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