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The forming of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade

One of the watchers when the "Stanley" was wrecked was John Morrison, an officer in the military volunteers based at Tynemouth Castle.

Joseph Spence, Mayor of Tynemouth 1863  and 1869He knew that if the rescuers had been as well trained as his soldiers, many more lives could have been saved. He met with two important local men, John Foster Spence and his brother Joseph who joined him in arranging a public meeting in North Shields Town Hall on 5th December 1864.John  Spence, Mayor of Tynemouth 18891 and 1893

A large crowd turned up and over a hundred men volunteered, there and then, to be trained to help the Coastguard to save lives from shipwrecks. The first callout was in March 1865, but the brig, "Burton" was rolled over by huge waves and only one crew member survived. On 8th February, 1870, the Volunteers were called out three times, They were able to save the crew from two of these vessels and the lifeboat rescued the others. The first successful rescue was from the brigantine "Susannah"


Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade 1870

Back row: Anderson, Wallace, Fry, Joseph Spence, W. Spain, F. Spence, A. Gray, C. Henzell
Middle row: Dunn, W. Lambert, Duncan, Meadows, Stevens, W. Grey, Cary, Hunter
Front row: Clarke, Frew, Fry, Armstrong, Captain Burgess

More than 150 years later, almost every week the Brigade is still called upon to help someone in trouble - check the local newspaper and the TVLB web site

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03-Aug-2007 © North Tyneside Libraries 2007-8