WORK is under way on a £700,000 new RNLI station in Blyth.
The two-storey building with modern facilities will replace the old station.
It is expected the facility will be completed by April 2013.
It will include a crew training and meeting room, changing facilities, an office, workshop, an RNLI shop and space for the station’s inshore lifeboat Alan and Amy.
Contractors are now working on the building’s sub-structure, with construction due to start in the summer to replace the small single-storey building, dating back to the 1920s.
The lifeboat is currently housed in a garage and needs to be moved to its launch site by a quad bike.
The new building is directly opposite the davit used to launch the vessel.
RNLI divisional inspector Andy Clift said: “We have a crew of very dedicated RNLI volunteers in Blyth and in return for their commitment to saving lives at sea, our charity has a duty to provide them with appropriate facilities to ensure they can carry out their role as effectively as possible.
“The new lifeboat station will bring everything they need under one roof, with better training, changing and other operational facilities, improved housing for the lifeboat and a purpose-built RNLI shop.”
The station will be a steel-framed construction with masonry block external walls at ground level and European larch cladding on three sides of the first floor.
It has been designed by Northumberland architects David and Jane Darcy.
Blyth RNLI lifeboat operations manager John Scott said: “The work is going to take some time but there should be minimum disruption as we will stay in our current building until the new station is finished.
“The RNLI has been operating in Blyth for almost 150 years and this station will provide us with a home for many more years to come.
“We were fortunate to receive a new inshore lifeboat earlier this year and hope to have a joint ceremony to name the lifeboat and officially open our new station some time next year.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with the RNLI in Blyth, either as a crew member or as a fundraiser, should e-mail email@example.com for more information.