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…

NEWBIGGIN LIFEBOAT STATION SERVICES RENDERED OVER THE LAST 170 YEARS DURING

THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER

1st - 1988 - FISHING VESSEL ‘LADY GWEN’

2nd - 1903 - STEAM TRAWLER ‘GRECIAN PRINCE’ OF SHIELDS / 2002 - COBLES

3rd - 1916 - THIRTEEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1934 - NEWBIGGIN FISHING FLEET /

1984 - COBLE ‘ENTERPRISE’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 2002 – PERSONS IN DANGER

4th -

5th – 2011 – ABANDONED VEHICLE IN SEA

6th - 1902 - S.S.’ GRENWICH’ OF LONDON / 1931 - COBLES

7th -

8th - 1878 - COBLES / 1902 - COBLE ‘ROSE OF ENGLAND’ OF NEWBIGGIN /

1964 - RIVER BARGE ‘CRESCENT BRAND’ /

1986 - COBLE ‘THREE SISTERS’ OF NEWBIGGIN / 1997 –REPORT OF MISSING CHILD

9th - 1910 - COBLES / 1949 - COBLES / 1994 - HORSE IN THE SEA

10th - 1904 - S.S. ‘WILLIE OF AMSTERDAM / 1986 - COBLES / 1996 - COBLE

11th - 1898 - REPORT OF SHIP ASHORE / 1996 - EX SHIP’S LIFEBOAT ‘EMMA’ / 1996 - COBLE

12th - 1901 - KETCH ‘SAMMUEL AND ANN’ OF HULL / 2001 – THREE COBLES

13th - 1921 - SIX NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1922 - S.S. ‘THEOBANOSIBERIDES’ OF PIRAEUS

14th - 1984 - COBLE ‘THREE SISTERS’ OF NEWBIGGIN

15th - 1900 - COBLES / 1971 - THREE NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1983 -TWO NEWBIGGINCOBLES / 2008 – FISHING COBLE ‘CRYSTAL SEA’ / 2010 - FISHING COBLE ‘CRYSTAL SEA

16th - 1955 - FISHING BOAT ON FIRE / 1973 - TWO NEWBIGGIN COBLES

17th - 1864 - TWENTY ONE NEWBIGGIN COBLES

18th - 1893 - SCHOONER ‘POSIDON’ OF SKIEN, NORWAY / 2012 – CAR IN SEA

19th - 1873 - SCHOONER ‘ADELADE RAY’ OF PORTSMOUTH / 1908 - COBLE /

1978 - REPORT OF RED FLARES

20th - 1991 - FISHING VESSEL ‘LADY GWEN’ / 1995 – COBLES / 2003 – COBLE ‘ENDEVOUR’

21st -

22nd - 1887 - THIRTY NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1957 - FISHING BOAT ‘JEAN’ /

1981 - MAN INJURED AT CLIFFS

23rd - 1860 - SCHOONER ‘ROSE’ OF LYNN / 1902 - TRAWLER ‘NILE’ OF HULL /

1928 - NEWBIGGIN FISHING FLEET / 1955 - COBLE ‘OCEAN PRIDE’ OF AMBLE /

1992 - COBLE ‘LILY OF THE VALLEY’

24th - 1920 - ELEVEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES

25th - 1868 - COBLES / 1968 – COBLES / 1999 – DOG ‘BARNEY’

26th - 1880 - SCHOONER ‘BRAES OF MORAY’ / 1907 - COBLE ‘THISTLE’ OF NEWBIGGIN /

1945 - SEVEN NEWBIGGIN COBLES

27th - 1910 - S.S. ‘ELEANOR’ OF SOUTH SHIELDS

28th - 1911 - COBLES / 1923 - FOUR NEWBIGGIN COBLES

29th - 1926 - FIVE NEWBIGGIN COBLES / 1990 - FISHING VESSEL ‘LADY GWEN’

30th - 1911 - FOUR NEWBIGGIN COBLES