Remembering brigade’s only lost crewman

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As the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade prepares to mark its 150th anniversary, time has been taken to remember the only brigadesman killed on duty.

On December 17, 1872, the 240-tonne Barque Consul tried to leave the Tyne for Genoa with coal and ten crew on board when it struck the piles being used in the construction of the North Tyne pier.

A total of 15 brigadesmen, three captains and several coastguards set up on the pier in an attempt to rescue the crew, but unfortunately several of them had been washed away.

The vessel’s captain was killed when one of the pier piles fell on him while a young Dutchman was fatally injured when the line for the rescue cradle collapsed.

Several of the Brigadesmen believed that they had seen one man washed off the pier during the rescue but it could not be confirmed.

A few hours later a search of the shoreline discovered the body of brigadesman Robert Thirlway Arkley.

Robert had been a customs officer for twenty-one years and left several children and a wife who was expecting a baby. A trust fund was set up by the Brigade to support them.