Friday, October 2, 2009


The eagerly awaited book titled "Man the Lifeboat! Feats of heroism and endurance. Newcastle Lifeboat Service 1838-1946 & Rocket Brigade 1866-1974" by Pamela Harrison will be launched on:
Thursday 12th November 2009 at 10.30am at the Lovett Gallery  in the Newcastle Regional Library, Laman Street Newcastle.
If you would like to pre-order a copy for $35.00 or have it posted, then contact Pam on her email:
The book traces the history of the Services and includes background information from the descendants, which was collected by the VLDF Group (Victoria Lifeboats' Descendants & Friends).

"Newcastle (NSW) developed a world-wide reputation as a dangerous port from the time of the first recorded wreck in 1800.
Hundreds of ships and lives were lost in its vicinity before the existing breakwaters were completed in 1915. From 1808 convicts-manned boats were sent out to try and save ships and their crews- sometimes with success and sometimes at the cost of their lives.
This book records some of the early efforts, before tracing the history of the lifeboat service from its beginning in 1838, with unsuitable lifeboats and lack of Government support, to the efficient service it was to become before its termination in 1946. 

The history of the Lifeboat Service is one of heroism and despair, sacrifice and success, as the lifeboat crews battled mountainous seas in their desperate efforts to save those on ships in peril in the dangerous waters off Newcastle. Some lifeboat men drowned, others were injured or suffered illness as a result of their service. The lifeboat crewmen showed skill, strength, determination and courage as they faced death on their missions of mercy.

The Rocket Brigade supplemented the role of the Lifeboat Service and was responsible for saving many lives, especially off Stockton Beach, when the lifeboat was unable to approach through the breakers to offer help. The men required strength and endurance as they carried their heavy equipment, sometimes for up to 30 kilometres, along the beach to be ready to assist at shipwrecks.
Newcastle has lost much of its maritime past, and the Lifeboat Service and Rocket Brigade are largely forgotten. It is the author’s hope that this book will rekindle interest and respect for those men who risked their own lives to save others."  Pam Harrison

The book includes the famous Victoria Lifeboat which can be seen at the Maritime Centre, Lee Wharf in Newcastle.