Holbrook Coastguard joins in 200th birthday with line throwing on the Shotley peninsula

By Derek Davis

16th Jan 2022 | Local News

Peninsula based crew members from Holbrook Coastguard today took part in a symbolic line throwing ceremony to mark the national organisation's 200th birthday.

Led by station officer David Tallin members of the Holbrook team, based at the Woolverstone, were at Shotley marina at 11am to heave the throw-lines into the sea as part of the national celebration.

Throw-ins are part of the coastguard crews equipment and Holbrook were among more than 200 teams taking part in the celebration around the UK's coastline.

The ceremony was somewhat tame compared to the crews' normal shouts, which includes mud rescues, search and rescue and assisting emergency services to incidents along the Strand.

"We do a lot of search and extraction, water rescue and mud rescue," said SO Tallin. "Nationally there are also specialist rope teams for clip rescue.

"Around the peninsula we also find vehicles and even boats that get stuck on the foreshore as well as people.

"More and more we tend work on jobs supporting multi-agency assets, supporting the fire service, ambulance and police.

"We also work with the RNLI, and we are very lucky here that Shotley marina allow us to bring casualty vessels in through the lock so they have a safe environment to ensure the crew and the vessels are okay.

Holbrook Coastguard and fire and rescue team was formed nearly 16 years ago at the Royal Hospital School and now has home at Woolverstone marina.

The crew of 10 are all volunteers and while SO Tallin is a retired structural engineer his team includes a ship's pilot, paramedic, plumber, and pub landlord.

"It is good number because we know not everyone can come out to every call but this makes sure we have the numbers." said SO Tallin, who also wanted to thank the public for all their support.

He added: "Please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if you think we are needed. We would rather come out and find everything s fine, than not be called."

HM Coastguard was formally formed January 15, 1822, by combining >>> and volunteers have been searching, rescuing and saving lives, from around the UK's coastline ever since

From its humble beginnings with coastal lookouts to today's hi-tech national network of coordination centres, from small localised beginnings to international players the Coastguard

Over the past two centuries, HM Coastguard has gone from strength to strength. In 2022, coastguard operations centres coordinate responses to emergency situations at the coast calling on 310 Coastguard Rescue Teams – made up of 3,500 dedicated volunteers – and using 10 search and rescue helicopter bases.

Last month (December) HM Coastguard began to implement its new updated search and rescue radio network which uses fibre technology. More than £175million has been invested to upgrade the Coastguard's national radio network across all 165 sites over the next two years.

This will improve and future proof its communication infrastructure and ensure that it remains able to communicate and exchange data quickly and reliably in order to co-ordinate rescues and save lives.

The service continues to adapt to changes – in the last few years providing mutual aid and support during events and incidents to other emergency partners.

During the pandemic, coastguards supported the NHS, attended the G7 and COP26 in 2021 and are called in to support during national emergencies including flooding or supplying water to stranded drivers.

HM Coastguard provides training to search and rescue authorities around the world and also shares knowledge on a mutual basis with others. A key player with the International Maritime Organization, HM Coastguard's input and insight around the obligations of SOLAS (The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) is sought and valued.

The service is currently working hard to reduce its carbon footprint and is aiming to make its UK-wide fleet of vehicles electric wherever possible over the next five years.

Following trials, six electric vehicles have already been purchased, with 19 more currently being procured for use across the UK. Opportunities to electrify the fleet where operationally possible continue to be identified, with the trialling and integrating of electric models as they arrive on the market.

And with technology ever evolving, the service will continue to strive to be at the forefront of innovation to carry out its life-saving work.

Maritime Minister, Robert Courts said: "Congratulations HM Coastguard on their 200-year anniversary. I am immensely proud and humbled by the continued dedication and professionalism from the staff and volunteers which ensures everyone's safety on our shores and around our coast.

"HM Coastguard is the backbone of our maritime sector and the nation is indebted to its incredible workforce which continues to deliver an exceptional service.

Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard said: "When you look at how we started and where we are now, it's easy to celebrate the innovation and development that can be seen throughout the service. And yet, we are far more proud of the people, the volunteers and the staff who throughout two centuries have continued to strive to keep people safe at the coast and out at sea.

"We always have and always will respond to those in distress.

"While this milestone is an opportunity for us to look back with pride on what we've achieved, we have always looked to the future, and I'm proud that we continue to look for ways in which to improve and save lives.

"I'm proud of the commitment, the dedication and selfless sacrifice and I'm proud of how the service has developed and continues to do so.

A short history of HM Coastguard

Coastguard magic lantern 1890

Coastguard magic lantern 1890

17th/18th century

As soon as medieval taxes were charged on imports and exports, people begin smuggling. By 1743 the estimate is that half the tea drunk in Britain was illegally imported. Smuggling is highly profitable, making local people live in fear, with violent reprisals on informers and the murder of revenue officers, while corruption enables smugglers to evade harsh penalties. 1790s

Henry Greathead designs the first original lifeboat in South Shields. Twenty other locations place orders.


A Captain Manby experiments with firing mortars to carry lines offshore to stricken ships. The "Elizabeth", 150 yards out at sea sees the first life save due to this method. Cots hung below safety lines soon follow. 1809

The Board of Customs forms the Preventative Water Guard to fight smugglers and this small force uses boats to patrol every bay and cove.


The guard is placed under the Treasury. At each station the chief officer and chief boatman are experienced naval seamen or fishermen. In bad weather they form a shore patrol. Although created to end smuggling, the Preventative Water Guard quickly acquires extra duties and are instructed to take responsibility of shipwrecks to safeguard cargoes and vessels from looters. They are also trained with lifesaving equipment. 1821

The Preventative Water Guard is recognised as a major force against smuggling and it is recommended that it is again controlled by the Board of Customs. In a minute dated 15 January 1822, the Treasury accept the proposal noting the new force will be called 'Coast Guard' which is, in effect, the birth certificate of HM Coastguard.

15th Jan 1822

The Coastguard was formed in 1822 by the amalgamation of three services set up to prevent smuggling: the Revenue Cruisers

the iding Officers

the Preventive Water Guard


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