THE Port of Newcastle used to be viewed by seafarers as one of the most dangerous in the world.
Hundreds of ships perished along the coastline, costing crews and passengers their lives in treacherous waters.
Yet many were also saved thanks to the bravery and commitment of rescuers working day and night either side of Newcastle’s harbour.
Tomorrow members of the Lifeboat Rescue Service and the Rocket Brigades will be remembered for their sacrifice in the opening of a memorial at Nobbys Head.
Bill Hillier, convener of the Victoria Lifeboats Descendants and Friends group, described the rescuers as the ‘‘guardians of the harbour’’.
‘‘They were the beginnings of the current service we have today,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a deserving tribute to those who risked their lives for 136 years.’’
Artist Jamie Sargeant and craftsman John Morton have created the memorial, which consists of two halves of a lifeboat and a replica rocket launcher – used by rescuers to fire ropes onto stranded ships.
Emblazoned on the lifeboat is the rescuers’ motto, ‘‘Whenever duty calls’’.
‘‘We’re really pleased with it and it’s in a lovely setting,’’ Mr Sargeant said.
‘‘You can sit inside the sculpture and have a chat while looking out over the ocean.’’
Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Port Corporation and Victoria Lifeboats Descendants and Friends commissioned the project, which lord mayor Jeff McCloy will open at 11am tomorrow. A prayer service will follow at Christ Church Cathedral at 2pm to honour the fallen.