Tyne & Wear

South Shields breeches buoy rescue recreated 150 years on

Rescue team Image copyright South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Image caption The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade is celebrating its 150th anniversary

A sea to land rescue is set to take place on the South Tyneside coast.

People will be brought to shore from a "shipwreck" via breeches buoy by members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade in a re-enactment of a rescue on 2 April 1866.

A seine-net fishing boat will play the part of the schooner Tenterden which was wrecked during a heavy storm.

The event, near the watch House off the South Pier, is part of the brigade's 150th anniversary celebrations.

Over the weekend there will also be a special dinner, and a Service of Thanksgiving in St. Hilda's Church on Sunday.

Image copyright Craig Leng
Image caption The captain's wife and baby daughter were among those rescued

A breeches buoy is a lifebuoy with a canvas sling - similar in form to a pair of breeches - attached to a rope and pulley. The rope is fired on to the vessel by a rocket.

At the time of the rescue, the brigade had only been in existence for two months, and although there had been three practice drills it was the first time the equipment had been used in a life-or-death situation.

Despite the bad weather, all those on board the ship - including the captain's wife and their 18-month-old baby, were winched to safety.

The men were taken to a nearby public house, while the woman and child were tended to by local women.

Image copyright South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Image caption The team has been practicing for the event

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade is credited to have saved more than 600 lives from shipwreck since it was founded, and has now branched out into search and rescue operations.

As part of the anniversary celebrations there will be a series of illustrated talks and open days, and later in the year a major exhibition in South Shields Museum.

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