Tyne and Wear
Society , Social Reform
The memorial, inaugurated in June 1890, was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and “as a memorial of the beneficent work of the lifeboat as designed and built in South Shields in the year 1790.”
The lifeboat situated nearby demonstrates its revolutionary design.
There is some dispute as to who proposed the design for the lifeboat so the memorial is dedicated to both William Wouldhave and Henry Greathead. Both men had entered a competition proposed by a Committee of local gentlemen to design a lifeboat which could save the lives of the seamen who were the victims of the many shipwrecks off the coast of South Shields.
The design of the boat was innovative in that it was the first self-righting, unsinkable boat which was the same shape at either end to allow it to be steered through stormy waters without the need for it to be turned around.
The lifeboat was soon deployed throughout the world and saved the lives of many sailors.