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The management of the lifeboat was at first undertaken by a local committee and later by the Tees Bay Lifeboat Society, which financed lifeboats on both sides of the river from tolls levied on ships using the Tees. It was the heyday of the sailing vessel and many hundreds were employed in carrying coal from north east ports to London and the south. They were entirely at the mercy of the weather and scores were driven ashore by the frequent onshore gales, for which the North Sea is notorious.

On August 13th, 1829, the coal laden brig Aurora, was wrecked on the North Gare by a fierce north easterly storm. The Seaton Carew lifeboat was launched, but the rough seas proved to be too much for the crew, and after three hours toiling at the oars they were obliged to return to shore in an exhausted condition. In the meantime the Zetland had been brought from Redcar and was launched with a crew of twenty-six, under the command of Lt. Richard Elsworthy Pym of the coastguard. Even with the extra men at the oars it was a while before the Zetland  managed to reach the Aurora and bring the crew of eight and the captain and his wife to safety. For his part in the rescue Lt. Pym was awarded the gold medal of the RNLI.

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A sailing ship wrecked on the beach at Redcar in the 1800's