Seven 'rescued' as brigade marks 150th anniversary

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Seven people were 'rescued' from the Tyne as the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (SSVLB) marked its 150th anniversary.

Members re-enacted the first ever breeches buoy rescue mission just off South Pier this morning.

The first person 'rescued' by the breeches buoy today.

The first person 'rescued' by the breeches buoy today.

Crowds gathered to watch SSVLV, along with crews from Tynemouth and Sunderland, 'save' members of the Rachel Douglas fishing boat.

The breeches buoy - which involves a rocket firing a rescue line and a pulley system - was first used on April 2 1866 when schooner Tenterden of Sunderland was wrecked on South Pier which was being constructed at the time.

Seven people including a woman and child were rescued from the stricken vessel. This epic rescue inspired this famous picture “Saved” by T. Watson.

Life Brigade honorary secretary Tom Fennelly was delighted his team was able to carry out the historical re-enactment.

The breeches buoy rocket about to be fired.

The breeches buoy rocket about to be fired.

He said: "This is the first time many will have ever seen the breeches buoy in action, and it will probably be the last time they will.

"We wouldn't have been able to do this today, without the help of many other organisations including the council, North East Maritime Trust, Port of Tyne and the Herritage Lottery fund.

"It;s also been wonderful that we have been able to work with the brigades at Tynemouth and Sunderland to be able to pull this off."

The weekend also sees a special 150th anniversary dinner in the Littlehaven Hotel tonight.

Visit www.ssvlb.org.uk for more information.