Plans in pipeline to celebrate service

Newbiggin's Rocket House.
Newbiggin's Rocket House.

Residents are being invited to find out more about plans to preserve a rare Newbiggin relic from a long-gone arm of Britain’s maritime history.

The Newbiggin Maritime Partnership (NHP) is planning to renovate and open to the public the village’s Rocket House next year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of it first coming into service.

Built on to the back of Newbiggin lifeboat house, the Rocket House was one of the first opened around Britain’s coastline to provide a back-up service to lifeboats.

Stored in the building were a cart and equipment used to fire a line from shore to ships that had run aground on rocks but could not be reached by lifeboats.

The Newbiggin Rocket House is a rare survivor of the service because it was one of a very few physically attached to a lifeboat station.

Next year NHP volunteers plan to re-open the building in its anniversary year, to demonstrate how the Rocket House became a vital part of Newbiggin’s maritime history and life saving services.

Recently they were given a major boost when the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £26,300 to progress their plans to the stage where they can apply for a full grant towards the cost of repairing and conserving the building.

A consultation day is being held on Thursday, September 10, at the Newbiggin Maritime Centre from 2pm to 4pm and from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

NHP Project Manager Barry Mead hopes local people will attend to learn more about their plans and also perhaps contribute family stories or memorabilia that could be incorporated into the display.

“The Rocket House was still open and in use as late as 1970 so many local people will remember it or can relate stories of friends and family members who were part of the service,” he said.

“It would be great to meet and talk with them at our consultation day. Rocket Houses were very much a part of Britain’s maritime rescue services but relatively little is known of them by many people.

“We plan to change all that at Newbiggin and pay due respect to the service and the very many local people who operated it often in dangerous and treacherous conditions.”

Anyone unable to attend the consultation day can still comment on the plans or contribute stories by emailing or writing to Newbiggin Maritime Centre, Church Point, Newbiggin, NE64 6DB.