Coastal rescue team set to mark 150th anniversary

A rescue organisation which has help save countless lives along the North Tyneside coast are preparing to mark a special anniversary.

Work has begun on a number of events and activities to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade (TVLB).

The coastal rescue team was formed on December 5, 1864, after a meeting at North Shields Town Hall.

The meeting had been called following an awful shipwreck on November 24, 1864, which saw the loss of 32 lives when the schooner ‘Friendship’ and the passenger steamer ‘Stanley’ had wrecked on the Black Middens Rocks at Tynemouth.

Two crewmembers from the Tynemouth Lifeboat ‘Constance’ also died during the attempted rescue.

Over the last 150 years, the TVLB has developed from a team solely trained in ship-to-shore Breeches Buoy Rescue to a specialist coastal rescue team which deals with an average of 120 incidents per year.

The 20 volunteers who make up the brigade’s rescue team are trained in rope rescue, water rescue, coastal search and rescue, and first aid; and are assisted by a support team of 15 directors and former members.

A free-to-visit museum, located on the Spanish Battery at the mouth of the Tyne, also helps outline the TVLB’s history and is currently the subject of a joint restoration bid, including North Tyneside Council, to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

TVLB officials are now keen to work with the local community to help mark its 150th anniversary.

TVLB captain Peter Lilley said: “The Brigade has been planning how it wishes to mark this important anniversary since 2010 and it was soon agreed by those at the heart of this planning that a key aim was to work with local schools and the local community to raise knowledge of the Brigade and to showcase our Watch House Museum.

“A number of different routes have been planned including holding a number of talks on the history of the Brigade on Thursday evenings in June; visiting local schools to give talks and presentations on the Brigade’s history and how to stay safe at the seaside; a number of painting competitions which will involve local art clubs and also a number of local schools; holding a range of different events at the Watch House and other local venues; and to re-enact a Breeches Buoy rescue to pay tribute to the work of the Brigade’s original members and to showcase just quite what it would have been like to carry out a rescue in the 19th century.”

For more about the events or the TVLB visit