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Presentation and Launching Ceremony of the New Whitley Lifeboat

A flash mob of local swimmers crash the grand christening and launch of a new lifeboat for Whitley Bay.

Non-Fiction 1912 6 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


This spectacular procession and launch of a new lifeboat at Whitley Bay, held on 25 May 1912, was filmed by former Durham coal miner and early cinema pioneer George Henderson, and exhibited at the Empire theatre on the town’s Esplanade. The magnificent crowd assembled at the beach are surprised by a flash mob of swimmers in baggy knitted costumes from a local amateur club who dash into the waves to give life-saving demonstrations.

The lifeboat was gifted by Councillor Alfred Nicholls, built by WH Fry from Tynemouth at a cost of £12 and christened ‘Rockcliff’ with a silver tankard of seawater. In an organised spectacle at the event, the Whitstable salvage steamer ‘Triton’, half a mile out to sea and decorated with bunting, blew up an old sailing boat with dummies on board, which the lifeboat crew then rescued. Between 1896 and 1908, George Henderson made and exhibited films in the North East, and lectured on the subject of cinema. He founded Newcastle’s first cinema in 1908, and, soon after, set up Henderson’s North of England Film Bureau (c.1910 – 1942), variously based at Pudding Chare, Irving House and Bath Lane in Newcastle.