Rare maritime feature to be restored

The Rocket House in Newbiggin.
The Rocket House in Newbiggin.

A rare feature of Northumberland’s maritime heritage is being restored to its former glory.

A campaign had been under way to restore the Rocket House in Newbiggin.

The work is set to begin later this month after receiving additional support from Northumberland County Council.

The Rocket House is built onto the back of the town’s lifeboat station and is a small, but neglected, part of the area’s maritime heritage.

The facilities were built to house a cart which was loaded up with all the equipment necessary to carry out a rescue when a ship ran aground close to shore.

Opened in 1866, Newbiggin’s was one of the oldest Rocket Houses in the country and was last used in around 1970.

It was manned by the Newbiggin Volunteer Life Saving Brigade and over the years hundreds of local people volunteered for the Brigade.

According to Historic England, ‘despite having been built in their hundreds around the coast, Rocket Houses are rare survivals nationally’.

Last September, the Newbiggin Heritage Partnership was awarded a grant of £153,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and open the Rocket House.

Local county councillor and deputy business chairman Liz Simpson has stepped in with £4,000 from her council capital allowance, while The Sir James Knott Trust and Newbiggin Town Council have also contributed funds.

The money will allow the partnership to restore the building, install interpretation boards, develop educational materials, provide training in heritage skills and offer volunteering and work placement opportunities.

Coun Simpson said: “As a Newbiggin resident, I know how important this piece of our heritage is to the local community and it’s fantastic we will be able to restore it to its former glory.

“When complete it will be another asset in our growing number of visitor attractions as we look to bring more people in the town.”

The building is expected to open in July 2017.