This is a picture of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, founded January 1866.
The Volunteer Life Brigade is a search and rescue organisation which assists HM Coastguard in the United Kingdom in coastal emergencies. Around 40 VLBs were established in the mid-to-late 19th century; today just three remain on the coast of north-east England.
The first unit, at Tynemouth, was established on 5 December 1864.
The three remaining VLBs are on call to the Coastguard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, each providing a shore-based team of volunteers trained and ready to provide assistance.