LATIMER- Newbiggin's First Lifeboat

The Newcastle Journal on October 9th, 1852 carried the following report;
‘On Wednesday this week a trial of the self righting powers of the new Lifeboat for Newbiggin, presented by the Duke of Northumberland, took place in Shields Harbour for the satisfaction of Shields Pilots and others present. The Lifeboat is waiting for placement at Newbiggin once the weather is sufficiently favourable. Captain Washington on board the naval steam tug ‘Lightening’ at the Low Lights tested the new boat. The boat with the aid of tackle and rope was hoisted up a short distance, keel upwards, and in this position was suddenly dropped into the river whereupon she righted in a most incredible short space of time considering the construction of the boat. The experiment was successfully completed five or six times’.

Delivery of the first Newbiggin Lifeboat
A week later on October 16th, 1852 the Newcastle Journal reported on a historic day at Newbiggin;
‘On Monday October 11th, 1852 the splendid new Lifeboat provided by the Duke of Northumberland for Newbiggin was delivered by the naval steam tug ‘Lightening’. Captain Washington, Master of the ‘Lightening’ addressed the gathered fishermen and mariners. They tended their grateful acknowledgement to the Noble Duke for his benevolence and liberality in affording so manifest proof of his care for their lives and welfare. On reaching the shore the boat was immediately hauled up to the house also erected at the expense of His Grace.
The hardy fishermen finished off with several rounds of hearty cheers for their great benefactor, the Noble Duke’.

The new Lifeboat is 30’0” long by 7’9” breadth ‘Peake’ self-righting Lifeboat, powered by ten oars and named ‘LATIMER’ after one of the eight ‘Baronees’ of the House of Percy. The Lifeboat weighed about 37cwt with water ballast in and was built by Forrest of Limehouse. She could carry up to 35 persons including her crew. The boat, seated on a detachable carriage, used to facilitate launching from an open beach, was housed in a building that remains today as Newbiggin’s present Lifeboat house. ‘Big Philip’ Jefferson was appointed the first Coxswain of Newbiggin Lifeboat.
On arriving at the Station the new Lifeboat was found to be leaking but the problem was remedied following repair to the ballast delivery tubes.

LATIMER (the second lifeboat of this name)

The Morpeth Herald carried the following report on September 22nd, 1860;
‘Newbiggin Lifeboat – The National Lifeboat Institution has just replaced the Lifeboat that was formerly at Newbiggin by a splendid boat. She is 34 foot 6 inches long, 8 feet wide, and rows 12 oars. She will like all the Lifeboats of the Society, self right if upset and readily self-eject any seas she may ship. The boat was built by Messrs. Forrestt of Limehouse, and cost £144. There is probably not a more efficient Lifeboat on the whole coast than is now found at Newbiggin. A free conveyance to the boat was readily given by the General Steam Navigation Company on board one of their vessels. The National Lifeboat Institution has at present boats at the following places on the Northumberland coast; Berwick – on – Tweed, North Sunderland, Boulmer, Alnmouth, Hauxley, Newbiggin and Cullercoats. Altogether the Institution has 186 Lifeboats in connection with it. A truly noble fleet outnumbered certainly by the navies of commerce and war, but the largest life saving fleet the world has yet seen. But for the indefatigable exertion of this noble Institution many brave seamen of Shields and our other ports, who now in the full employment of life and strength and able to provide for his family would have since had his last requiem sung by the ruthless wave. Even during the present year the Lifeboat of the Society have been the means under God of saving upwards of 160 of our fellow creatures from a watery grave. As the expense of each Lifeboat Station is about £30 a year, it is evident that a large sum is required.
The second Lifeboat sent to Newbiggin was again provided by the Duke of Northumberland and again called ‘Latimer’. This particular Lifeboat was one of six only built of that particular class and specification’.
(On being replaced at Newbiggin she was taken to New Brighton Lifeboat Station due to their Station ‘tubular’ Lifeboat being repaired. She continued her service there until 1867.)