Home | Meeting | Watch House | SS Stanley | Breeches Buoy | Map | Resources | Acknowledgements | Tyne Lives

The making of the Breeches Buoy

This is the Breech Buoy and it’s called Breeches Buoy because it’s got a pair of trousers sewn in it. As I can lift this up and show you. See? It’s a pair of breeches, and it sewn into a lifebelt, and you just sit in that. Your legs come through the top, just a pair of trousers sewn into a life belt. And if it was too rough for the lifeboat to venture out, they used the Breeches Buoy. And you were hauled over the top of the waves instead of in a boat, if the boat couldn’t ……. An that changed everything. So simple and it saved absolutely thousands and thousands of seamen.

The Breeches Buoy.

Using the Breeches Buoy

The left-hand whip and the right-hand, which is these, and they would haul on this and that would fetch the Breeches Buoy back with one man in it. He was taken out, put in a horse and cart and fetched to this station, which they had a great big open fire in them days. They had radiators running right round it. There was thirty-six bunks in there and there was five great big baths about six foot high full of hot water. And they would plonk them in there to get all the muck off them, and they’d probably get a tot of rum and then they were bedded down for the night. And they used stay here. They were billeted here till such times as they got over their shock of being ship-wrecked and found, sent back to where their home ports were.

 
With gracious thanks to Bill Scott for allowing the use of these fascinating recordings.  
Back