About Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade

    For over 130 years Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade has provided a service to people who use the city’s port, harbour and beaches. It was founded in 1877 to assist HM Coastguard in saving life from shipwreck. The Brigade has evolved to offer a range of services to meet modern day requirements.Sunderland VLB is based in Roker at the Watch House on Pier View.
    The Watch House has been the headquarters of the SVLB for over 100 years, opening in 1906.It provides a training base for Brigade members as well as a lookout for the Coastwatch team and a Museum to house items that celebrate the Brigades rich maritime history.As the name suggests the members of the Brigade are all volunteers.Sunderland VLB is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.

    There are four main areas to the Brigade’s work each requiring different abilities, skills, knowledge and training:

    Search and Rescue Team
    When modern lifeboats and helicopters were developed, the SVLB’s role of shore based rescues with rocket apparatus became obsolete. Many VLBs closed down but Sunderland Brigade, along with those at Tynemouth and South Shields, continued by broadening their role and providing other services. The Search and Rescue Team are trained to carry out organised searches and cliff rescues. They use the latest equipment and techniques and have regular practices to ensure that their skills are kept up to date. A fully equipped Ford Ranger, which is a designated ambulance, is used to transport the team to an incident. Safety and training are the key areas for this team.
    Visit our Search and Rescue Team Page

    The Coastwatch Team provide a visual watch on the sea, coastline, piers and harbour. Using their ‘eyes and ears’ to monitor the local area, the Watch Keepers maintain a log of all craft movements, provide weather reports and observe activities such as water sports. They are able to spot and report incidents as they happen. This improves response times from the emergency services and also improves safety for all who use the area. The Coastwatch is currently in operation four days a week and there are plans to extend to seven as more people are trained. Sunderland Coastwatch is affiliated to the National Coastwatch Institute.
    The Look Out is equipped with radar, radios, Navtex, charts, telescope and binoculars.
    Visit the Coastwatch Page

    Watch House Museum
    The Roker Watch House is not only the headquarters of the Brigade as it also holds a wealth of information on its work and the rescues it has carried out over the past 130 years.  As well as the many photographs on display, there are artefacts from some of the ships wrecked off the coast and a variety of examples of rescue equipment used by the Brigade. At present the Watch House is open to the public every Sunday afternoon from 12 noon to 4pm as well as Bank Holiday Mondays. Entrance is free and light refreshments can be purchased for a small charge. It is a very interesting visit for anyone interested in local or maritime history.
    Visit our Museum Page

    Fundraising Team
    This team includes members from the other three teams as well as people who concentrate solely on fundraising. As the Brigade is fully self supporting it relies on collections, donations and grants to raise the funds necessary to provide all of the rescue and safety equipment, Coastwatch equipment, the emergency vehicle and maintain the Watch House. Without the dedication of this team the work of the Brigade could not continue, it is vital to every aspect of what can be achieved.
    Visit our Volunteers Page




    Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade:::The Watch House, Pier View, Roker, Sunderland. SR6 0PR

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