Project will restore South Shields historic life saving watch house

South Shields pier Watch House, a key part of a town’s maritime heritage, is to be restored in new project

Watch House at South Shields - In front are South Tyneside Homes general maintenance apprentices Jack Lamb, Kieron Raine and James Riley with the Head of Property Services Gary Kirsop. At the back are Tom Fennelly (SSVLB Honarary secretary, The Mayor, Councillor Ernest Gibson, Jason Crews (STH Property services manager) and Norman Jensen (SSVLB Assistant secretary)
Watch House at South Shields - In front are South Tyneside Homes general maintenance apprentices Jack Lamb, Kieron Raine and James Riley with the Head of Property Services Gary Kirsop. At the back are Tom Fennelly (SSVLB Honarary secretary, The Mayor, Councillor Ernest Gibson, Jason Crews (STH Property services manager) and Norman Jensen (SSVLB Assistant secretary)

A key part of a town’s maritime heritage is to be restored.

The project at the historic Watch House on the South Pier in South Shields is being undertaken by South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes and Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle.

The listed structure is one of the oldest all-wooden Victorian buildings in Britain.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Ernest Gibson, is a keen supporter of the work of the Volunteer Life Brigade which occupies the Watch House and was instrumental in bringing about the partnership.

The aim is to complete the job in time for the celebration in 2016 of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.

Coun Gibson said: “ It will be wonderful to see this historic building fully restored to commemorate 150 years’ continuous lifesaving service.

“It is a very special building and forms an integral part of the story of South Tyneside’s maritime heritage.

“I hope other local businesses and organisations will also support this project through fundraising efforts.”

The building is home to a collection of figureheads, name boards and other artefacts from shipwrecks as well as displays of rescue equipment, including the breeches buoy, and a photographic archive.

Tom Fennelly, brigade honorary secretary, said: ”We are delighted that the Mayor has so enthusiastically supported the setting up of the partnership with South Tyneside Homes who are providing the labour using supervised third-year apprentices to carry out a phased restoration of the exterior of the Watch House.

“The restoration will make a great contribution to the preparations for the 150th anniversary and we are very grateful to South Tyneside Homes for their decision to undertake the work as a community project.

“We are also being supported by a number of other local organisations and businesses as well as having our usual fundraising events.”

The brigade relies totally on voluntary donations, support from various trust funds and contributions in kind from local firms and businesses.

The Brigade also stages a variety of major annual fundraising events and smaller individual collections.

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