Celebrating 150 years of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.
The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.

A flag was hoisted to mark 150 years of a life-saving group in South Shields.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, had the honour of raising a special 150th anniversary flag for the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse raise the 150th anniversary flag.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse raise the 150th anniversary flag.

The ceremony took place this morning at the brigade’s Watch House on the South Pier at South Shields.

It was the latest in a series of events celebrating the anniversary of the brigade’s formation on January 15, 1866.

The historic meeting, which led to the formation of the group, was recently re-enacted at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, in Ocean Road.

The meeting resulted in a letter being received from the Surveyor General’s Office of the Board of Trade, in Whitehall, on January 30, 1866.

Our present Mayor played a starring role in the recent re-enactment of the formation meeting and it was entirely fitting that he hoisted the 150th Anniversary Flag for the first time in 2016.

Tom Fennelly

The letter formally accepted the services of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and plans were made to hold the first drill in February 1866.

The flag raising ceremony commemorated the exact anniversary of receipt of the letter.

The specially-designed flag displaying the Brigade’s famous Always Ready badge and motto will be hoisted throughout the rest of 2016 during events and activities in and around the Watch House.

Tom Fennelly, honorary secretary of the brigade, said: “The Mayor played an important role in the formation of the brigade and throughout its long history successive Mayors of the borough have continued to support its work and the development of lifesaving services.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.

“Our present Mayor played a starring role in the recent re-enactment of the formation meeting and it was entirely fitting that he hoisted the 150th Anniversary Flag for the first time in 2016.”

The next major event in the programme of anniversary celebrations will be a re-enactment of the first 1866 drill on Saturday, February 13 and there will be a reunion of members past and present on Saturday, March 12.

On Saturday, April 2 there will be a major re-enactment of the first time the breeches buoy was used to save lives from a shipwreck in 1866.

With the co-operation of the North East Maritime Trust, a restored fishing boat will be acting as the wreck of the schooner Tenterden near to the Watch House off the South Pier.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.

The Mayor Coun Richard Porthouse and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse join South Shields Volunteer Lifebrigade members Tom Fennelly and Norman Jenson, to raise the 150th anniversary flag.

A commemorative documentary film has been commissioned and a new brochure is being produced highlighting the achievements of the past and celebrating the search and rescue work of the Volunteer Life Brigade today.

There will also be a major exhibition at South Shields Museum from May 21 to September 17 and a small touring exhibition will support a programme of open days and illustrated talks at the Watch House throughout the year.

In addition there will be visits by local schools and a major new digital educational resource is being created to make the Always Ready story accessible online to schools throughout the country.

For more information, go to www.ssvlb.org.uk