The recent storms forced this year’s Trafalgar Day commemoration indoors for the traditional toast to Vice Admiral Lord Collingwood. Collingwood was the local hero who played a key role at Trafalgar. This year’s event took shelter in the Tynemouth Watch House home to the Tynemouth Voluntary Life Brigade and to the fabulous Watch House Museum. Tynemouth Watch House is a local gem.
Perhaps less well known – except perhaps in Cullercoats itself – is Cullercoats Watch House. Cullercoats Life Brigade was formed in 1865 to assist the coastguard in saving lives from shipwrecks but that required somewhere to keep watch from, night and day, through storms and rough seas. The Watch House allowed fisherfolk to assemble to observe boats entering and leaving the harbour. It was opened in 1879 and despite changes of use over the years, survived as an important part of Cullercoats’ heritage.
Last summer trustees reopened the building and the local community came together to transform the Watch House into a community and heritage hub. It’s a huge undertaking but has attracted international as well as local interest through links with American artist Winslow Homer who made Cullercoats his home.
I’ve visited the Watch House to meet trustees and I’m backing their campaign for restoration including seeking much needed funds. It is testament once again to how strong our local community spirt is at the Coast often around the fishing industry but now serving a wider, more diverse community. If you’d like to find out more you can visit www.cullercoatswatchhouse.com or better still visit the Watch House itself.