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.