My blog for today was to have been an update on Solar Solve’s Covid-19 plans. Last night (22 February), Boris Johnson laid out his ‘roadmap’ (in my day we called them ‘plans’) for moving out of the UK’s lockdown. He made it clear that, to be successful, such plans depend on all sorts of circumstances coming together continuously and for quite a few months, if there is any chance of them being accurate or realistic.
The great Team at Solar Solve has been doing whatever is needed to serve our brilliant customers ever since Coronavirus appeared and with huge success. We will continue to do so.
The leaders of the world’s nations don’t have crystal balls to tell them what is going to happen and neither do I but whatever happens we will deal with it, one way or another.
My reserve subject is to proudly promote a famous resident of my home town of South Shields, even though he was born on the other side of the River Tyne in North Shields, where Paul Hopkins, Solar Solve’s Sales and Marketing Executive was born and still lives.
Most of my research is copied from the Internet, a wonderful invention.
William Wouldhave was born in Liddle Street, North Shields, in 1751 and was apprenticed as a house painter before moving to become parish clerk in South Shields. Wouldhave married with Hannah Crow on 1 March 1775 at the parish church of St Hilda, South Shields.
In 1789 the South Shields based Tyne Lifeboat Committee was formed and they sponsored a competition to invent the world’s first purpose-designed lifeboat.
William Wouldhave entered the competition and submitted his design for a boat to be built of copper, made buoyant by the use of cork. Self-righting, it was incapable of being capsized.
Although his self-righting lifeboat did not meet with full approval (at that time, though it did some years later), Wouldhave was awarded one guinea for his trouble. Henry Greathead a South Shields boatbuilder, also made a submission, which was deemed to be totally unsatisfactory. Greathead was however employed to build a boat conceived by the committee, drawn up from plans submitted. It was built in South Shields, in September 1789 and put on station on the river Tyne. Later to be named Original, the lifeboat’s first launch when lives were saved, was on 30th January 1790.
The lifeboat Tyne is the world’s second oldest lifeboat in existence and was built in 1833 and is of similar design to the first lifeboat, Original, that was invented at South Shields some 44 years earlier. In 1894 it was sited alongside a monument to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee that also commemorates the invention of the lifeboat at South Shields in 1790, with the names of two men – William Wouldhave and Henry Greathead, the designer and the builder. Tyne was placed on public display under the decorative cast iron canopy, as a permanent reminder of the skill and bravery of the men of the Tyne Lifeboat Institution and it is still there today. See photo.
William Wouldhave died on 18th September 1821, meaning 2021 is the 200th ANNIVERSARY year of his death. The actual lifeboat model that he entered into the competition is still on display in the town’s museum.
Although Wouldhave’s design was placed second in the competition, he is credited by many as the ‘inventor of the lifeboat’ and with Henry Greathead being the builder, there can be no doubt that the lifeboat, now used the world over, was born in South Shields!
John H Lightfoot MBE