Discover the 150-year history of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

Saved by JD Watson is one of the pieces on show at the exhibition.
Saved by JD Watson is one of the pieces on show at the exhibition.

An exhibition tracking the 150-year history of a life-saving group will be unveiled this weekend.

Always Ready, an exhibition marking the anniversary of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (SSVLB), goes on display on Saturday at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery, in Ocean Road, where it will remain until September 17.

The brigade was formed in 1866, following a wreck that took 32 lives on the treacherous Black Middens.

The opening day of the exhibition will include opportunities for visitors of all ages to celebrate and appreciate the SSVLB. There will be family craft activities, tales of the creation and history of the distinctive weatherproof woollen sweater, the Gansey, from South Shields community group Materialistics, and sea shanties from The Ancient Mariners.

Also at the grand opening, members of SSVLB will be on hand to talk to visitors about the brigade and the exhibition.

Named after the brigade’s motto Always Ready, the exhibition aims to inspire and impress visitors with the bravery and dedication of the volunteers, who for 150 years have answered calls at any time of day or night to come to the aid of people in peril.

Tom Fennelly, honorary secretary of SSVLB for 44 years, said: “The same spirit that motivated men to put muscle and manila to good purpose in the days of sail and steam continues to inspire today’s team of volunteers.”

The opening day runs from 11am to 3pm. The exhibition can be visited during normal museum opening hours of 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 4pm on Saturdays. Admission is free.

A new educational resource can also be accessed at www.shooflypublishing.co.uk/ssvlb