Historic Tyne lifeboat gets a new lease of life thanks to volunteers

Restoration work has been completed on the restoration of the historic Tyne lifeboat at South Shields

Members of the North East Maritime Trust, Tim West, left, and Dave Parker with the restored Tyne Lifeboat
Members of the North East Maritime Trust, Tim West, left, and Dave Parker with the restored Tyne Lifeboat

A historic lifeboat which saved more than 1,000 lives in the years she operated on the Tyne has now been restored.

Four months of effort and investment by South Tyneside Council and the North East Maritime Trust. has seen a team of 30 volunteers working to restore The Tyne lifeboat.

The operation, with help from South Tyneside Council’s Riverside Community Area Forum, has been carried out at the trust’s South Shields workshops.

The lifeboat, which was built by J. Oliver from South Shields in 1833, served for more than 50 years and saved 1,028 lives.

The Tyne is now the second oldest lifeboat in existence, after the Zetland which is on show at Redcar.

She was placed on public display at South Shields seafront in 1894.

The Tyne was moved to the workshops at the start of August from her permanent home at Pier Parade in South Shields.


Tim West, trust director, said: “It has been a real pleasure working on this project, as the trust has learned so many interesting facts about the boat’s impressive history.

“The preparation for the practical work involved a great deal of research.

“We managed to find out how and exactly where the lifeboat was damaged during a Second World War bombing raid.

“The trust also managed to locate a few old pictures of the lifeboat, which are being displayed in our workshop.

“It was fantastic the way residents would pop by and tell their stories about The Tyne lifeboat.

“The whole process has captured the imagination of the public, and they will be able to enjoy the results when the vessel is put back on display next year.”

The boat’s cast iron canopy has also been removed for restoration works and once finished the lifeboat will return to its original site at Pier Parade by spring 2014.

Audrey McMillan, vice chairman of the council’s foreshore steering group, said: “The project team were delighted to secure funding from the Riverside Community Area Forum for this fascinating restoration project.

“I’ve watched the project closely and have been captivated by the level of precision and attention to detail that has been given to the boat.

“The Tyne lifeboat is a very symbolic piece of our local heritage that needs to be preserved and passed on to future generations.

“The community investment shows the council’s intentions to showcase our foreshore and riverside assets. Once in place, the vessel will complement other foreshore projects such as the new Haven Point leisure complex.

John Anglin, chairman of the Riverside CAF, said: “Heritage forms an important part of what makes South Tyneside endearing and by restoring The Tyne it should ensure the lifeboat stays an integral tourism attraction for years to come.”

The work involved analysis of paint samples to understand how the appearance of the lifeboat has changed over the years and to determine the original colour scheme.

Up to 20 layers of paint were found in some places.

The trust could then see what which sections of timbers were original and which were later repairs or replacements.

The Tyne lifeboat is part of the river’s tradition, which includes the launch of the first purpose-designed lifeboat at South Shields in 1790, the first ship’s lifeboat in 1827, and the RNLI’s first petrol-engined lifeboat which was based at North Shields in 1905.

In addition, the first volunteer life brigade was set up at Tynemouth in 1864, followed just over a year later by its equivalent in South Shields.


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