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Station Officer Eric Campbell



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View of early Coastguard house - 1949/56The photograph here (on left) shows the two Coastguard House's which were rented to the Coastguard families from the Government's Board of Trade.  The house with the flag pole and small building in front (this was a training room originally) belonged to the Station Officer - No. 6 - who was then Joe Harris, and next door (our left) is No. 5 where Eric and Eve lived.  Taken in 1949, the views around the bay were breath-taking, (the house's are still there but now privately owned - and yes the views are still breath-taking!  This bright and lively fishing community was (and still is) a 'close-knit' family with everyone helping each other.  By enlarging the picture (click on the photo), you can see a tractor on the beach with a trailer awaiting for their fishing boat, or 'Coble' to return, also, one of three promenades (far left-hand-side of the photo), and yes - there was a beach!

Eric Campbell arrived in Newbiggin-By-The-Sea with his wife Evelyn after his appointment to (then named) Board of Trade Coastguard Force, on the 2nd May 1949, as a newly qualified member, with the rank of 'Coastguardsman'.   

Newbiggin was a two coastguard station, Eric Campbell's arrival relived Coastguardsman William Browne (who left in 1946).  Eric served with Officer in Charge Joe Harris, until 1951 when Joe transferred, then Alex Kiloh arrived until 1953 when Alex transferred and Coastguardsman Albert Hyde arrived in 1953.  Eric transferred to Cockburnspath in the New Year of January 1955 Coastguardsman John Dobson arrived - reliving Eric on 16th January 1955.

View of the beach - 1949The photo (left) show a view of the bay and beach - probably taken from around Spital Cottage.  Notice the swings on the beach of soft sand which gently sloped  out to sea - sometimes for a 100 yards before reaching your knees!  In the distance, St. Bartholomew's Church.  To the right of the church is the Coastguard's Lookout Tower - certainly a marvellous view to be had from there.  It was also very draughty inside the tower when the wind was blowing.  For a closer view of the Lookout Tower, click here.

In 1851, Newbiggin-By-The-Sea had its first lifeboat station which was provided by the Duke of Northumberland.  This was followed by Newbiggin's first lifeboat, named 'Latimer', again provided by the Duke.  This lifeboat station  is still in use to-day and is now the oldest working station in England.  Their 150th anniversary was on 27th May 2001, to which I personally will attend.    It was here that many, many rescues were launched, in all kind of weather.

Postcard of Lifeboat slipway - 1950  It is certainly true to say that many hundreds, if not thousands of people owe their lives to the courageous and brave actions of the volunteer lifeboat members.  On the right is a postcard showing the Lifeboat slipway etc for launching.  There have been many lives saved thanks to the tireless and tremendous efforts of the locals who man-handled the lifeboat across terrains of tall, rough  grass, sand banks and rock so as to launch the lifeboat for a rescue.  During each year within the local North Eastern regional L.S.A.'s, (Life Saving Apparatus), there is a competition as to who is the most efficient and quickest to 'launch a rescue' on dry land, called "The Chronicle Cup." 

Chronicle Cup Winners - Newbiggin  L.S.A. 1954On average there are between 16 and 20 Brigades taking part (depending who is on duty etc.) - all are judged and marked on their performance, effort and team work.  This competition will introduce certain hazards and problems (which they may encounter in a real life rescue), all of which change each year.  In 1954, Newbiggin L.S.A. actually won the trophy (from Tynemouth) for the first time in their history - as you could imagine, there were many celebrations in 'The Old Ship Inn' where Newbiggin L.S.A. hold their functions and members meet.
(Click on the above picture for their names.)




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