Index  (i)  (ii)  (iii)  (iv)  (v)  Preface.  (1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (11)  (12)  (13)  (14)  (15)  (16)  (17)  (18)  (19)  (20)  (21) 


Thomas Babington's Last Days.

In the 1890's the Red House tried to provide more training for "sea service". Sewell had started this in a small way when an ex-Naval instructor had been introduced as early as 1871; a mast had been rigged at the school and a ship's pump obtained. Boys who wanted to enter the navy were interviewed by the officer of the Coast Guards at Cromer and then sent for a "medical". On the strength of the Buxton training many joined the Royal navy and some boys gained free working passages to Canada and Australia; there is the record of one who quickly made good in the Australian gold fields and sent money for his parents to follow. At this time the boys took a great interest in the sea; the Royal Navy was expanding and old boys were encouraged to visit the school when on leave.

The older Buxton boys were well aware of the hazards of the sea for sailing vessels were still being wrecked on the Norfolk beaches each winter. The year 1888 was one that started badly with heavy snow all February and two wrecks near Mundesley. After a very cold spring there were no apples at Buxton that summer. Two old boys who were working at a Cromer hotel, witnessed an exciting event and one took an early opportunity to return to the Red House to give an account. It was a Sunday in August that a paddle-steamer brought holiday makers from Yarmouth to Cromer on a day trip. The passengers were rowed ashore in local boats; the hotels and the boatmen did a very good trade. Later in the day the trippers were taken back to the vessel which then set about for Yarmouth; alas, it ran straight into Church rock which was said to be the remains of the old church, now covered by the sea. The local boats rescued all the passengers. The paddle-steamer was never refloated. The hotels and the boatmen continued to do well from visitors who came to see the stranded vessel; this helped to make up for a bad summer.

Sunday 24th March 1895, bought a severe gale; it damaged the Red House roof and tore up trees. The Dudwick estate lost more than 2,500 trees, mostly from the Marsham plantation; here the wind had cut a path through the wood as if a way had been prepared for a new road. In Buxton village the roof was blown off the Sunday school and many of the cottages in the village were left "quite uncovered". Serious winter storms came again in November 1897; on this occasion the level of the North Sea rose, and the waters came in for some miles on parts of the Norfolk coast. One of the younger Babingtons was at Southend visiting General Booth's Y.M.C.A.Colony. The place was flooded to and the colony's buildings virtually destroyed. This great storm had occurred shortly after old Tom Babington's death. He had been taken ill and died quite suddenly in October, at the age of 75. The funeral was at Marsham church. One of the very many tributes described him as a man of "great human warmth" and it went on to suggest that this was what the boys, who had been sent to the Red House, needed most of all. Perhaps that is why he was remembered with such affection and visited by old boys throughout his life at Buxton.

The eldest son Thomas, had for some time been his father's deputy; now he was appointed to succeed his father with the new title of Governor. In the following year he left to become Governor of the Kent Industrial School at Ashford; his younger brother Alfred then took over at Buxton; this was in 1895.