The United States Coast Guard is Always Ready
THREE South Shields organisations got there FIRST, or did they?
Solar Solve’s Chairman theorises.
Some historical references on United States Coast Guard websites refer to the USCG motto of Always Ready or sometimes the Latin equivalent Semper Paratus. They quite openly declare that no one seems to know exactly how Always Ready was chosen as the USCG motto, or exactly when. I am intrigued because I am a past Honorary Chairman of the Tyne Lifeboat Society (the world’s FIRST proper lifeboat organisation), which began its existence 231 years ago when the Tyne Lifeboat Committee was formed. I live and work in South Shields in North East England, have read the history of the TLS and have my own theory about how the USCG adopted their motto, Always Ready. There are 3 options, all connected with South Shields.
The world’s first purpose designed lifeboat was conceived and built in South Shields, in September 1789 and put on station on the river Tyne. This was as a result of a competition sponsored by the newly formed, South Shields based Tyne Lifeboat Committee. Later to be named ‘Original’, the lifeboat’s first launch when lives were saved, was on 30th January 1790. At some point in its history and before 1850, the TLS had adopted the motto Always Ready and by which time, the committee had been amalgamated with the North Shields Lifeboat Committee and renamed The Tyne Lifeboat Institution.
In 1850, South Shields became a Municipal Borough and adopted the lifeboatmens’ motto Always Ready for its coat of arms. In December 1865, the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was formed and following the towns lifesaving tradition, it too adopted the motto Always Ready.
Coincidently, as an aside to this story, my Alma Mater has a slightly different input. I’m not sure of the exact date but probably between the two world wars, the South Shields Boys’ High School (later to become South Shields Grammar Technical School for boys, before turning to mixed gender comprehensive education) was looking for a motto. It turned the town’s English motto into Latin. It got complicated though and the negative of the negative was chosen … nunquam non was taken as meaning “always” and parati means “prepared”. So it’s supposed that the school’s motto Nunquam Non Parati really reads “not never prepared”, a derivative of Always Ready that is different from the US Coast Guard’s Semper Paratus.
You can read about the USCG side of things on Thursday.
John Lightfoot MBE, Solar Solve Chairman