Newbiggin Lifeboat Station is the oldest operational boathouse in the British Isles and Ireland. The catalyst for the establishment of a lifeboat station for Newbiggin began in March 1851 as a result of a fishing disaster when ten fishermen lost their lives. However the fishermen, John Dent, Henry Brown, Philip Jefferson, William and Robert Armstrong, were subsequently each awarded the RNLI silver medal.

Additionally the Duke of Northumberland supported the lifeboat service on the Northumberland coast and provided the first Newbiggin lifeboat and boathouse, and so our lifesaving began. Philip Jefferson, the first Newbiggin Lifeboat Coxswain was awarded a clasp to his silver medal for an attempted service to the brig 'Embla' in 1854.

A larger replacement lifeboat arrived at the station in 1860 retaining the name 'Latimer' and she in turn was succeeded by the self-righting lifeboat 'William Hopkinson' of Brighouse. Over the years the lifeboat launched many times to local fishing boats in difficulty, as well as ships aground or wrecked. One such rescue in 1881 to the 'SS Northumberland' in north east hurricane conditions led to Coxswain John Brown receiving a silver medal. He received a clasp in 1885 after completing his 35 years of service with many gallant rescues.

The fourth Newbiggin lifeboat the 37ft 'Robert and Susan' arrived in 1885 and was to carry out life saving until 1906 being replaced by another 37ft lifeboat 'Ada Lewis'. During one remarkable service the 'Ada Lewis' was hauled 2 miles over land on February 22nd 1914. A three masted sailing ship 'Arctic Stream' went aground in Lyne Bay, the lifeboat rescued the 19 crew and passengers transferring 6 to the Cresswell lifeboat which had also launched.

These efforts were recognised with the issue of 'Thanks on Vellum' both to the Newbiggin Coxswain Watson T Brown aged 72 and to his brother, the Cresswell Coxswain William Brown.

The period of the First World War provided some different types of casualties for the lifeboat including stranded naval patrol boats, a submarine, as well as a grounded sea plane.

Another medal service came in 1926 when Coxswain William Robinson carried out a difficult service in rescuing 9 men from the trawler 'George R Purdy'. The lifeboat 'Arthur R Dawes' arrived at the station in 1931. One interesting service occurred on Christmas Eve 1933. The 'SS Glenrose' ran aground on Outer Carrs carrying a cargo of dynamite. The lifeboat went alongside and the Captain advised "if she bumps we shall all go West!" Fortunately the ship refloated and continued on her journey. The 'Augustus & Laura' lifeboat arrived in 1938, the first motor lifeboat at Newbiggin.

No account of Newbiggin's lifeboat service could be complete without special reference to our women. Before the advent of the lifeboat tractor, launching and recovery would be assisted by the women shorehelpers. Their exemplary record was officially recognised on the Institution's 'Thanks on Vellum' in 1927 and again in 1940.

In 1927 the Lifeboat required the help of 25 women in a service to the fishing fleet. Most of the regular crew were out in the fishing boats, so a scratch crew was put together consisting of miners who had just come off their shift.
But for the help of the women it would not have been possible to get the lifeboat afloat in the heavy seas. In order to keep the boat straight many waded waist deep into the surf.

 

On this day - April- Rescues over the last 166 years

(underlined rescues received a notable award)

  

1st - 1856 - COBLES / 1918 - SEAPLANE / 1946 - COBLE ‘FISHER LASS’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 2012 - COBLE

2nd - 1880 - FOURTEEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1977 - REPORT OF RED FLARE / 2011 - CANOE

3rd - 1930 - COBLES ‘OUR GIRLS’ AND ‘PROVIDER’ OF NEWBIGGIN

4th - 1906 - EIGHT NEWBIGGIN COBLES

5th - 1943 - COBLE ‘HUMILITY’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 1984 - CABIN CRUISER ‘JAVA’

2003 – CABIN BOAT ‘FINDUS’ / 2009 – MEDICAL EVACUATION FROM BEACH

6th – 2010 – YOUTH ON ROCKS – STOOD BY

7th - 1857 - BRIG ‘CATHERINE’ OF HARWICH / 1936 - COBLES / 1978 - REPORT OF RED FLARES

8th -

9th -

10th - 1962 - COBLE ‘MOTHER’S JOY’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 2007 - CANOE

11th - 1907 - COBLE ‘LOUISA’ OF NEWBIGGIN

12th - 1963 - SAILING COBLE ‘EGRET’ OF AMBLE /

1969 - COBLE ‘MARY ROBINSON’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 2007 COBLE ‘THREE SISTERS’

13th - 1874 - TWO NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1897 - COBLE ‘TRY AGAIN’ OF NEWBIGGIN /

1920 - SEVEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1958 - FISHING BOAT ‘TWO SISTERS’ /

1963 - CONVERTED SHIP’S LIFEBOAT ‘PIPER’ OF BLYTH

14th - 1953 - FIVE NEWBIGGIN COBLES

15th - 1905 - FIVE NEWBIGGIN COBLES

16th – 2000 – COBLE‘ENDEAVOUR’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 2007 – PERSON IN SEA

17th -

18th - 1967 - TEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1984 - COBLE ‘MOONBEAM’

19th - 1944 - AEROPLANE / 1979 - FISHING BOAT ‘EMMA’ / 2011 - CARPET

20th -

21st – 2011 – MISSING ANGLERS

22nd - 1984 - BATHER

23rd - 1981 - CAPSIZED BOAT

24th -

25th - 1858 - BRIG ‘QUEST’ OF STOCKHOLM / 1859 - BRIG ‘DUEST’ OF STOCKHOLM

26th - 1919 - COBLE / 1965 - FOUR NEWBIGGIN COBLES

27th - 1892 - STOOD BY IN BOATHOUSE DUE TO GALE / 1898 - SIX NEWBIGGIN COBLES /

1903 - S.S. ‘ATIKI’ OF ANDROS,GREECE / 1992 - COBLES

28th - 1903 - S.S. ‘ATIKI’ OF ANDROS, GREECE /

1926 - STEAM TRAWLER ‘GEORGE R. PURDY’ OF NORTH SHIELDS

29th – 1999 – FISHING COBLE ‘MARGARET LISLE’;

30th - 1928 - STEAM TRAWLER ‘SARAH’ OF NORTH SHIELDS / 2007 – RECOVERED CANOE