Cullercoats Brewery is a corporate partner of the RNLI through a donation of 3p per pint for every beer.The brewery is proud to support the lifesaving work of the RNLI and in particular the heroic work of the Cullercoats Lifeboats.
The brewery draws its inspiration from the rich history of Cullercoats Lifeboats and especially the stormy events of New Year’s Day 1861, when the “Lovely Nelly” ran aground off Whitley Sands. The Cullercoats Lifeboat could not launch because of the rough conditions, and the story goes that Cullercoats Fisherwomen pulled the lifeboat the 2 miles to Whitley Bay where the lifeboat could be launched. The lifeboat saved all lives on the Lovely Nelly, save for the 12 year old cabin boy Thomas Thomson who sadly drowned. The bowman on the Cullercoats Lifeboat was John Chisholm whose nickname was “Jack the Devil”. The story is famously recalled in the painting of ‘The Women’ by John Charlton, which hangs in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne. We have also been in touch with the great grandson of one of the ship’s crew, and you can read about this on our news page. The famous picture and a detailed account of this incredible story is on the East Durham Archive website.
There are information boards (see right) on the prom at Whitley Sands telling the story in full.
“Rocket Brigade IPA” draws on another chapter in the history of saving lives at sea in Cullercoats. Rocket apparatus, manoeuvred on a wooden carriage by the Volunteer Life Brigade (VLB), was used to fire lines to ships in distress, thus facilitating rescue of crew and vessels. The apparatus was stored in what is now Rocket Garage, situated on the corner of John Street, overlooking Cullerocats Bay. The brewery’s IPA pump clip, showing the rocket and a VLB member was designed by local artist Charlotte Powell, who was able to research the story at Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Museum. Charlotte also designed the Jack and Nelly clips.
Polly Donkin was a well known Cullercoats Fishwife who was awarded the RNLI’s Gold Brooch in 1931 when she was 73 years old. The award was “for distinguished services by honorary workers in raising funds” and was in recognition of her huge fundraising efforts for the charity. We believe she was born in 1858. There is a short piece of PATHE newsreel here at the medal ceremony, at 60 seconds in.
The Cullercoats Watch House is an iconic lookout building, overlooking the bay, from where the fisherwomen would keep watch for the boats coming in, awaiting the fishermen’s safe return. It is the basis of our logo with its recognisable clock tower.
If you’ve ever walked along the Tyne from North Shields Fish Quay towards Tynemouth you can’t fail to notice Admiral Lord Collingwood, on his plinth, gazing out to sea since 1845. The monument is surrounded by cannon from his ship, The Royal Sovereign, which fired the first shot at the Battle Of Trafalgar in 1805. Collingwood helped the British Navy to avoid losing a single ship at Trafalgar, a critical battle in our history; if the Navy had lost, Napoleon could have swept across the channel into England.
In recognition of this famous Newcastle born hero, we have brewed an all English barley wine, bearing the name Royal Sovereign ABV 11% – worth laying down for the future!
Many people have fond memories of riding on Shuggy Boats on Cullercoats Beach in the summer. These were popular seaside rides, a row of wooden boats with bell pull type ropes, pulled by the two riders to make them rock to and fro. Sometimes still spotted on Cullercoats beach, and this photograph is our son Ben on Shuggy Boats at Whitley Sands (where Lovely Nelly was wrecked) on a gorgeous summers day in July 2013
Grace Darling Gold is named after the famous English lighthouse keeper’s daughter. She was lauded for her part in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked Forfarshire in 1838, off the Farne Islands in Northumberland. Read all about Grace’s story and the museum celebrating her life in the wonderful village of Bamburgh, on the RNLI website.
Cullercoats Storm Porter was the name suggested by one of our FaceBook friends after a few posts debating the new beer’s name – we’re hoping to brew a stronger Hurricane Storm Porter in the near future!