Born Great Yarmouth, July 1917 died Great Yarmouth Hospital, November 2005
Stephen was the second child and first son of George and Rebecca (née Brewster) Daniels. George Daniels came from Ipswich and opened a branch shop of the family business, Smith and Daniels Ltd, Cutlers and Tool Merchants, situated in the Market Place Great Yarmouth, where a Woolworths store later stood. Rebecca was the thirteenth child of George and Adeline Brewster. Her father was a builder and the family lived in Alma Street, Great Yarmouth. George Brewster was a staunch churchman, who served at St. George's Chapel for many years in one capacity or another.
Stephen, his sister, Barbara, and younger brother, Dennis, grew up at 100 Beccles Road (now 171) in Gorleston close to the Gorleston bypass. The house was on the edge of farmland in those days. He attended Carlton House School, Edward Worlledge Junior School and Duncan House School in Great Yarmouth. When he left school at fifteen, Stephen was apprenticed to a local boat builder at Lowestoft and then worked at Herbert Woods at Potter Heigham. He had a lifelong passion for boats. From a teenager, he sailed his own dinghy out of Great Yarmouth harbour and was, for some years, honorary secretary and crew member of the Elizabeth Simpson, the Gorleston Volunteer Lifeboat.
In 1939, Stephen set up a new boat building yard in Limehouse, which produced over 20 small naval craft and made masts and spars for RAF stations and merchant ships. Boat building was a reserved occupation and vital to the war effort. In 1942, he designed and brought into production a 26-foot ship's lifeboat; also working with Lloyds on the design of reversible life-rafts for merchant ships, supervising the building of prototypes, and working out mass production methods. During the blitz, he served with the Home Guard on anti-looting patrols at London Docks.
In 1942, Stephen married Winsome Wright, also from Gorleston, and their first child, Valerie, was born in 1943. Two more daughters, Diane and Andrea, were born in 1944 and 1946. Towards the end of the war, Stephen returned to Herbert Woods to work on air-borne lifeboats. Unfortunately, he succumbed to severe dermatitis brought on by working with wood, and his career in boat building was brought to an abrupt end. He then worked for the family business, Smith and Daniels Ltd, eventually moving to Ipswich where his young family grew up and his son, Richard, was born in 1952. In their mid fifties, Stephen and Winsome moved to the Orkney Islands to assist their daughter, Diane, and her husband in a farming venture. They remained there for more than a decade, finally returning to the Great Yarmouth area where Stephen took up maritime research and writing.
He served as Chairman of the Friends of the Maritime Museum and was instrumental in helping to set up the Time and Tide Museum. He was an Honorary Freeman of Great Yarmouth and was keen to see the town put firmly on the map. Stephen was also actively involved with the Friends of the Elizabeth Simpson, the Maritime Festival, the Model Boat Exhibition and the Museum of the Broads.
Books by S.B. Daniels:
Rescue from the Skies: The Story of the Airborne Lifeboats (HMSO, 1994)
The Gorleston Volunteer Lifeboat: Elizabeth Simpson (North Walsham, 1989)
Mincarlo LT412: the story of a Lowestoft sidewinder (Hoveton, 1999).
Some particulars of Yarmouth fishing vessels: YH 1-YH 2459, listed in order of YH port registration numbers (Great Yarmouth, 1999).