Historic Royal National Lifeboat Institution North East images brought to life in colour for 200th anniversary

The RNLI has colourised historic images to mark its 200th anniversary.
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As the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) prepares to celebrate its 200th anniversary (4 March), the charity has brought some of its rich history to life with the release of a stunning collection of colourised images of the North East and beyond.

From iconic scenes to candid snapshots, black and white images have been painstakingly cleaned and colourised with folds, scratches and dust removed using digital technology to shine new light on 200 years of saving lives at sea.

The original imageThe original image
The original image
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Featured in the collection is Coxswain William Brown and his wife. This image candidly frames the importance of lifejackets and the development of the lifesaving buoyancy aids throughout the years.

Coxswain William Brown served on Cresswell Lifeboat from 1875 for 50 years. By the age of 70, he had rescued nearly 100 people. Living in a small community, the wives, daughters and younger sons of the crew would act as launchers. On his retirement William was presented with a Certificate of Service while his wife was awarded a Gold Brooch in recognition for her services both as a launcher and fundraiser.

RNLI Heritage and Archive Research Manager Hayley Whiting said: "The carefully coloured images illustrate just a few highlights of the incredible history of lifesaving over the previous two centuries, where over 144,000 lives have been saved to date.

"Each image has been brought to life by our own in-house creative team with hours spent on attention to detail, along with research being undertaken to ensure each one gave a true, lifelike representation."

Cresswell Coxswain William Brown and his wifeCresswell Coxswain William Brown and his wife
Cresswell Coxswain William Brown and his wife
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Also featured is the most decorated RNLI lifesaver, Henry Blogg, who was born on 6 February 1876. Henry served for 53 years on Cromer’s lifeboats before retiring in 1947, having saved 873 lives and been awarded many honours including three Gold and four Silver RNLI Medals for Gallantry.

The image of Henry, which first appeared in the Lifeboat Journal in 1916, he can be seen wearing black oilskins and a sou’wester, which preceded the instantly recognisable yellow waterproofs now associated with the RNLI.