The sky's the limit for rocket project

24 Jan 2017

A rare feature of Northumberland’s maritime heritage is set to be restored to its former glory following support from Northumberland County Council.

The Rocket House in Newbiggin is built onto the back of the town’s Lifeboat Station and is a small but neglected part of the area’s maritime heritage.

Rocket Houses were built to house a cart which was loaded up with all the equipment necessary to carry out a rescue when a ship ran aground close to shore.

Opened in 1866, Newbiggin’s was one of the oldest Rocket Houses in the country and was last used in around 1970.

It was manned by the Newbiggin Volunteer Life Saving Brigade and over the years hundreds of local people volunteered for the Brigade.

According to Historic England, “despite having been built in their hundreds around the coast, Rocket Houses are rare survivals nationally”.

In September 2016 the Newbiggin Heritage Partnership was awarded a grant of £153,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and open the Rocket House.  

Local County Councillor and Deputy Business Chair Liz Simpson stepped in with £4,000 from her council capital allowance, while The Sir James Knott Trust and Newbiggin Town Council have also contributed funds.

The money will allow the partnership to restore the building, install interpretation boards, develop educational materials, provide training in heritage skills and offer volunteering and work placement opportunities.

Cllr Simpson said: “As a Newbiggin resident I know how important this piece of our heritage is to the local community and it’s fantastic we will be able to restore it to its former glory.

“When complete it will be another asset in our growing number of visitor attractions as we look to bring more people in the town to help grow the local economy.”

Work should get underway later this month and open the building in July 2017.