Events 1870


4 January

Joseph Crisp was a senior member of the Brigade.

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of two new flags from Joseph Crisp, Esq., Victoria Terrace, South Shields.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 4 January 1870

5 January

Captain Goldsmith, of the Produce, from Boulogne, which arrived in the Tyne on the 30th, with damage, after striking on the rubble laid for the foundation of the south pier, states that the bell buoy which marks the same has been washed away.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 5 January 1870

10 January

It has not yet been possible to identify the “hero”.

Gallant Rescue by a South Shields Man.— the 10th of January last, a deed of almost desperate daring was performed in Marseilles harbour by a man belonging to South Shields. It happened thus thus:—A gentleman was sailing about in a small pleasure boat with his lady and children, when the boat was upset by a sadden squall, and all its occupants thrown into the water. There was no one about at the time but one man on the deck of an English vessel. He immediately gave the alarm, jumped upon the quay, rushed to the point nearest the capsized boat, and plunged into the water to the rescue of those in the water, now fast becoming insensible with the cold. Grasping one of the children with his hand, and catching the clothes of the other between his teeth, he turned, and struck out gallantly for the shore. After safely landing the children, be turned, and again swam out to boat. This time, after desperate exertions, he brought in the lady in safety, and, undeterred by the cold and the effects of his long immersion, he again turned seaward, and succeeded in bringing in the gentleman, now almost insensible The people of Marseilles evidently have a full appreciation of the heroic qualities of our townsman, for they have presented to him a gold cross, set with rubies, and suspended by a red ribbon, he having refused all offers of money rewards. The hero of this scene is member of the Volunteer Life Brigade of South Shields.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 10 February 1870

11 and 18 January

The Library was the only amusement allowed on Sundays.

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade thankfully acknowledge the receipt, for the library, of £2 2s from Charles M. Palmer, Esq.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 11 January 1870

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of 5 volumes, of books, from T. G. Mabane, Esq., solicitor

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 18 January 1870


2 February

P.C. M’Queen was the Pier Policeman and a member of the Brigade.

South Shields Life Brigade. — Last night about fifty officers and members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade met in their Watch House, to present P.C. M'Queen with a valuable snuff-box, in acknowledgement of his gallant services in connection with the brigade. The following is the inscription on the box:— “Presented to P.C. M'Queen for his gallant services, S. S. V. L. B., 1870." Afterwards the members sat down to an excellent supper.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 3 February 1870

6 February

A series of gales resulted in the Brigade being on standby.

A South East Gale

The weather yesterday was stormy—the wind blowing strong from the SSE, accompanied by a heavy sea on the bar. Towards night the wind increased to a gale, and there was also a heavy falI of rain. The barque Darles, and some other laden ships put back to the shelter the harbour last night, and the lifeboats’ crews and Life Brigades on both sides of the water were on watch. Yesterday afternoon, the steam tug Defence broke down while out sea and had to be towed in disabled, and the crews of two South Shields pilot boats had narrow escapes from being drowned in the afternoon, through being caught at sea in the gale. They however fortunately succeeded in making the harbour in safety

Source: Shields Daily News 7 February 1870

The Gale on the Coast

During the whole of yesterday, and to an early hour this morning, the gale continued with great violence, at frequent intervals with blinding showers snow and sleet. So violent a storm has not been experienced on this coast for some time past, and it has not, we regret to state, so far even as our own locality is concerned, been unattended with loss, not only of property, but also of valuable lives. The crews of those vessels who were out the gale, suffered greatly from the force of the storm, and their powers of endurance were, in many cases, fully put to the test. This was especially the case with those who were on board the vessels wrecked at the entrance to the Tyne. The conduct of the members the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, well as of the crews of the lifeboats, is beyond all praise. Owing to the gale being from the South East, the whole the causalities on this occasion took place on the North side of the harbour, and consequently the services the Tynemouth Life Brigade were specially called into requisition, and they had the great gratification of proving their usefulness in the saving of life. This was the case not only as regarded the brigantine Susannah, of Seaham, but particularly the schooner Light of the Harem, the crew of which vessel, owing to her lurching, and the dashing over, were placed in imminent danger. Through the exertions of the members of the brigade they were happily rescued, and placed in safety. The crews the lifeboats are also deserving of the highest praise for their services in endeavouring to save life. During the storm the members of the South Shields Life Brigade, were to be found at their post, ready to engage in the work saving life. In consequence, however, of the gale as stated, being from the south exist, the causalities of which took place, occurred at the north side of the harbour. The gale has greatly moderated, but it is blowing fresh, and the sea continues high on the bar and along the coast.

Source: Shields Daily News 9 February 1870

Another Gale

Another gale is blowing on the coast. On Saturday the weather became boisterous, and during the latter part of the day, it blew strong from the ESE, with snow showers. In the course of the night the wind chopped round to the ENE and during the whole of yesterday it blew a strong gale, snow falling at intervals—the cold at the time being intense. The sea broke heavily across the entrance the Tyne, and dashed with force against and over the piers. In the presence of such tempestuous weather the members of the Tynemouth and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigades as well as the lifeboatmen were on duty, in order to render assistance to any vessel which might be overtaken by the gale.

Source: Shields Daily News 14 February 1870

15 February

The Brigade continued to receive support from members of the establishment.

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of one guinea from the Mayor, John Strachan,

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 15 February 1870

25 February

A service was held to mark the anniversary of weekly services held at the Watch House.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

A SPECIAL MEETING of the Members will held in the Watch House on Friday, the 25th inst. at 8.30p.m.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 24 February 1870

27 February


ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House for Divine Service.

Preacher-Rev HERBERT HICKS M.A., Vicar of St Peter’s, North Shields, Chairman of the Committee Borough Volunteer Life Brigade, and Captain of a Division.
Service to commence at 6.30 p.m.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 26 February 1870

Committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to return their grateful thanks to the Revs. H. S. Hicks and R. E. Hooppell, for conducting the Anniversary Service last night.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 26th of February 1870

The Committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of a large Church Service from the Christian Knowledge Society.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 28 February 1870

25 February

A presentation was made to Capt. Wright, who was one of the original members of the Brigade.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.
Presentation to Captain W. Wright

Last night a special meeting of the members the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, was held in the Brigade House, South Pier, the object being to present a testimonial to Captain W. Wright, prior to his leaving South Shields, for Sulina, Constantinople. The testimonial consisted of a beautiful and valuable gold Albert chain, with gold medal attached. On the reverse side of the medal was engraved an excellent view of the Brigade House, and on the obverse side the following inscription:- “Presented to Captain W. Wright of the Fourth Division, South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, as a mark of respect.- February, 1870.” Mr Archibald Stevenson occupied the chair, and there was a numerous attendance of members. Among those present were - Rev H. Moore; Messrs M. Cay. jun., S. Malcolm, T. G. Mabane, W. Wright Captain Scott, Henry Strachan. J. Price, etc.

The Chairman, alluding to the object of their meeting, said he experienced very great regret at the fact that they were about to lose the services and the presence one of their members one who was highly esteemed and respected by every volunteer. He alluded to Captain Wm. Wright, who had been associated with the brigade since its establishment, and who had faithfully done his duty, for whenever his services were required, he was always to be found at his post. Mr Wright was about to leave South Shields for a distant place, and the members had resolved that he should carry away with him some memento of the respect they entertained for him. He had therefore great pleasure in presenting him with the testimonial, with a hope that he might long be spared to wear it, (Applause). He then handed the testimonial to Mr Wright.

Mr Wright in accepting the testimonial, expressed his heartfelt thanks for the kind expressions given utterance to regarding him by the Chairman, as well as for the testimonial to him, which whenever he looked upon it he would remember his good friends in connection with the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. It was quite true as stated by the Chairman that he had been connected with the brigade since its establishment. and during the whole time he had been associated with it, he had endeavoured to do his duty to the best of his ability. He concluded his remarks by again thanking the members for their gift, which he prized not for its intrinsic value, but for their kindness which it represented.

After the presentation of the testimonial, a number of toasts were given, and songs sung, an agreeable evening being spent-the members as they separated tendering their best wishes for the success of Mr Wright in the new sphere which he was about to proceed.

Source: Shields Daily News 26 February 1870

Presentation a Member of the South Shields Life Brigade.—On Friday night, a special meeting of the South Shields Life Brigade was held for the purpose of making a presentation to Mr W. Wright, captain of the 4th division of the Brigade, who is about to leave Shields for Constantinople. The chair was taken by Mr Archibald Stevenson, who said it was with deep regret that they had assembled together that evening. They were going to lose one of their best members and one who was liked by all the Brigade. Mr Wright had been with the Brigade since its formation, and he had worked hard. Whenever his services were required he was at his post, and he had done his duty nobly. He did not think there was a member who would raise a complaint against him. Though sorry to lose such a member they were glad that he was going to better his position. He was glad the Brigade had felt it their duty to give Mr Wright some little remembrance of the many hours he had spent amongst them. When he looked upon the testimonial which would be presented to him, he would think of the watch house on the pier, and wish once more he was amongst them. Mr Stevenson then turned to Mr Wright, and handed him a gold medal and an Albert chain, saying in doing so, that it was with great pleasure indeed that he presented him with that small token of respect from the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.—The medal bore the following inscription:—"Presented to Captain W. Wright, of the 4th division of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade;” and on the other side there was a representation the Brigade House. —Mr Wright acknowledged the testimonial with sincere thanks, and said when he looked at it he would always remember the Brigade and their Watch-house. As the Chairman had said, he had been a member since the commencement, and he could honestly say he had always done his duty to the best of his ability. (Applause.) — The proceedings in connection with the presentation then concluded. Refreshments were afterwards handed round to the members, and the meeting was protracted for sometime

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 28 February 1870



6 March

A complimentary dinner was held for Mr Wright.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Complimentary Supper

Last night, the members this brigade gave a complimentary supper to Mr Wm, Wright (who has been associated with the movement since its establishment), the occasion his being about to leave the town for Sulina, River Danube. The supper was provided in the Brigade House, South Shields, and was placed on the tables in capital style. Mr Alderman Glover occupied the chair and among those present were the guest of the evening, Mr Wm. Wright, Rev. P. H. Moore, Messrs M. Cay. sen, J. W. Lamb, Archibald Stevenson, S, Malcolm, M. Cay, jun., Jos. Crisp, W. Cay, M. Hall, W. Glover, W. H. Price, J. Strachan, jun., Captain Strachan, T. Wilson, &c. After the removal the cloth, and the loyal and patriotic toasts were given and responded to, the Chairman gave the health of Mr W. Wright. That gentleman was about to leave this country, and he was sure he would carry with him the good wishes of a great number of the people connected with the Borough of South Shields. There was also, the Chairman felt assured, not a gentleman connected with the Volunteer Life Brigade who did not wish him prosperity and happiness in his new home. Mr Wright was about to join his father as a partner, and likewise as a surveyor to Lloyds, and in his new capacity they all wished him every health, happiness, and success. The toast was received with applause, Mr Wright responded, and said he bad to thank them must heartily for that second token of their kindness, which they had evinced towards him. He had many kind and good friends in South Shields, and they would ever be present in his mind. (Applause.) Other toasts were given and responded to, and a Reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin" was likewise given by Mr John Strachan. jun. The proceedings concluded with a vote of the Chairman.

Source: Shields Daily News 8 March 1870

22 March

A severe gale resulted in both the Brigade and the Lifeboat Service being active, but their services were not required.

Severe North-East Gale

The cold north-easterly wind which has been blowing since Monday increased last night to a severe gale, and heavy sea broke over Shields bar. Many of the members the North and South Shields Life Brigades, in order to be in readiness should their services be required, kept watch through the night. Towards morning, the wind increased in violence, and at high tide the sea had risen to a considerable height. About half-past seven o'clock this morning, the Alert, of Wick, was entering the harbour in tow of a steam tug named the William, her towline broke, and she drifted into the broken water there was great danger of her going ashore. While the vessel was in this position the guns of the Castor and the Spanish Battery were fired, and a lifeboat was launched at each side of the river and pulled off towards her assistance. But the vessel had slipped her anchor, and several steamtugs were endeavouring to aid her. One named the Pilots was successful in getting hold of the vessel's rope and was trying to tow her off, but the anchor had not been taken up, and the result was that the towline of the tug was broken. The Wm. Scott then went to the vessel and in about fifteen minutes towed her safely into the harbour. The gale has now considerably moderated. As a sloop was entering the harbour about one o'clock, her tow line broke, and she almost drifted on to the pier. Fortunately the tug again succeeded in attaching another rope, and the vessel was towed in.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 23 March 1870

Gale on the Coast
Narrow Escape of a Brigantine

In the course of yesterday the wind blew fresh from the ENE, and the sea began to make. Towards evening the wind increased, and soon it had advanced to a gale. The sea was very strong and broke across the South Pier a considerable distance. This morning about seven o’clock, a brigantine in ballast, and in of tow a steamer, was observed making for the harbour. The bar was crossed in safely, but when off the Herd Buoy the vessel was struck by a heavy sea and about the same time the towline snapped. Upon this occurring the brigantine drifted on shore towards the South Pier, and among the broken water, by which she was tossed to and fro in a violent manner, and at times she presented an appearance of considerable danger. Some members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were in attendance at the Brigade House, and a signal was given for the assembling of the rest of the volunteers, which was at once taken up by the Castor, from whence boomed forth three volleys. Soon there was a large attendance of the Brigade, and at the same time the lifeboats were afloat ready to render assistance to the vessel. At this juncture the Pilots steamtug came up, and succeeded in getting a towline on board the brigantine. This having been secured the boat was set away, bringing with if the brigantine. They had not, however proceeded far, before, through the force of the wind and sea, the towline broke, and the vessel drove back again among the broken water. They had not been there long before the steamboat which had charge of her on the first occasion, came up and getting a towline on board succeeded in bringing the vessel clear of the broken water, and into the Narrows, whence she was towed up the river, and safely moored in one the tiers in the harbour. The name of the brigantine is the Alert, Captain Thorlbeck, of and from Wick.

Source: Shields Daily News 23 March 1870


13 April

The Board of Trade acknowledged the gallant conduct of Mr Foley during the wreck of the Ten Brothers.

South Shields Local Marine Board

The usual monthly meeting of this Board was held yesterday afternoon, at the Board Room, Customs Buildings, South Shields. There was no business before the meeting except the reading of correspondence from the Board of Trade. Mr J Mather was in the chair, and the other members present were Messrs J. White and Fell— Mr Lamb, the secretary read the following letter from the Board of Trade:—Board of Trade Whitehall Gardens, March 30th, 1870.—Rewards —Sir,—l am directed by the Board Trade to transmit to you, for the information the Marine Board of South Shields, the accompanying extract from a letter from Mr Malcolm, honorary secretary the South Shields Volunteer life Brigade, to the inspecting commander of Coastguard, Sunderland, relative to the services rendered by certain persons therein named on the occasion of the wreck of the smack Ten Brothers, of Eyemouth, one of those persons being Mr John George Foley, of Blackwall, but whose present address this board have since been informed is at Mr G. Pollard's, Pier Terrace, South Shields. In consideration of the Services rendered by Mr John George Foley on the occasion in question, this Board have awarded him the accompanying certificate, engrossed on vellum, which I am to request you will move your Board to be so good as to present to him in such way as they may think most fit, and may best express the high sense entertained by this Department of his gallant conduct. l am to request that this Department may be furnished with Mr Foley's receipt for the certificate. l am to add that this Board have awarded and paid pecuniary rewards to Houlsby, Heron and the man whose name is not given in the enclosure in this letter, but which has since been discovered be Benjamin Birch.—l am. Sir, your servant, Thomas Gray.—Extract—The Brigade proceeded at once with the apparatus, and under the superintendence of the Coastguard, a rocket was fixed and communication effected. This was done by the men standing up to their middle in surf. No response being made, it was thought there was no one on board, or if not they were helpless. Thomas Houlsby volunteered to go off with belt and rope attached to him. At the same time the boat would be about 15 yards from the shore, and the sea breaking right over her. After great struggles and much difficulty he succeeded. He also hauled the whip line off, which was made fast by one of the three men on board. The chair in being hauled off fouled among the nets and wreckage. Houlsby, in a most courageous manner, got the man on his back, jumped into the surf and was pulled ashore in a very exhausted condition, having to be carried to the Brigade House for medical assistance. The belt and line were then fastened to another member, who was, however, so exhausted previous exertions that he had to give up. Thereupon, Mr J. G, Foley, of Blackwall, London, volunteered to board. His assistance was gladly accepted, as the members had been up all night and a great part of that time in the water. On getting aboard he found a man sitting at the foot of the mast quite benumbed and so stiff that he was unable to get him into the breeches buoy. He came ashore but went off again and put a clove hitch round the man's body, when he was hauled ashore. In doing this Foley got entangled among the ropes and had a narrow escape of being drowned. Dr Winter, whose untiring exertions are much praised, succeeded in bringing them round. The third man left on board was underneath the sail and broken spars and was supposed to be dead. Foley again volunteered to go on board, and was closely followed by George Heron. They cut the sail, and, to the joy of all, the poor fellow was brought ashore alive. I may state that is only within the last month that Heron was the means of saving the lives of the crew a salmon boat which had got among the broken water, and on former occasions has distinguished himself in a similar manner. It is impossible for me to convey a correct idea the fatigues and exertions of the members of our brigade, many of whom were on duty eight hours, but I think that the Board of Trade ought to in same special way mark their appreciation of Thomas Houlsby, J. G. Foley, and George Heron. remain, &c  (signed) S. Malcolm, honorary secretary, South Shields Life Brigade.—Mr Lamb explained that the wreck referred to occurred the 15th July last. The certificate for Mr Foley had been received the 1st April, but was not in Shields. It had been ascertained that Mr Foley had been in Liverpool, and the certificate had been forwarded wither.—The Board then adjourned.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 14 April 1870

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

CAPTAIN ROBERTSON, R.N., Surveyor-General Board of Trade, will Inspect the members at the South Pier, on Monday night, 25th inst., at seven o'clock. A full attendance is respectfully requested. Belts to be worn.

S. Malcolm,
Honorary Secretary.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 23rd of April 1870

25 April.

The Brigade was inspected by Captain Robertson of the Board of Trade.

Annual Inspection of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

The annual inspection of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, by Captain Robertson, R.N. Surveyor-General to the Board of Trade, took place last night, in the Recreation Ground, Ocean Road. There was a good muster of members. Amongst the gentlemen, there were J. F. Spence, Esq., North Shields; J. F. Lamb, South Shields; Mr Henzell, North Shields; Capt. Pocock, Mr Superintendent Stephens, &c. A number of the Wellesley boys were present, and assisted in the experiments. A trial was first made of the double-sheave block, invented by Mr Bell, of South Shields, after which the block sent by the Board of Trade was tried. The experiments with both blocks were considered highly satisfactory. A rocket was next fired with a whip-line attached, which it carried 180 yards. At the conclusion of the inspection, the members proceeded to the Brigade House, outside which they were addressed by Captain Robertson. He said he was gratified to find such a good attendance of members, and that they went through their exercises so well. He did not think they had had any experience in saving life since he was last amongst them; but he remembered how well they behaved when the ships were wrecked behind the pier, and was sure they would do so again. He congratulated them, on having made one improvement, that was in being orderly and quiet in the exercises. Captain Robertson proceeded to state that if he was a sailor and was to be shipwrecked, the Tyne was just the place where would like to be wrecked for he would sure of being saved, no matter whether were at Cullercoats, Tynemouth, or South Shields. Not only would he sure of being saved, but there was a comfortable house where he would be carried to. With regard the trials, he could not help thinking that the invention of Mr Bell was a great improvement, and he would report accordingly to the Board of Trade, as he would also do of the satisfactory way in which they had gone through their exercises. He concluded by thanking them for their attention. Three cheers were then given for Captain Robertson, and cheers having also been given for Mr J. F. Spence and Mr Malcolm the proceedings terminated.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 26th of April 1870

Annual Inspection of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

The members of this brigade underwent their annual inspection last night, before Captain Robertson, R.N., Surveyor General the Board of Trade. The inspection was fixed to take place at eleven o’clock, at which time there was an excellent muster of the brigade, who were assembled in the Brigade House at the South Pier. There was likewise in attendance a detachment of 26 boys from the Wellesley, in charge of Mr W. H. Pye. In addition to the Inspecting Officer there were present. Captain Elliott, R.N.. Inspecting Officer of the Coastguard, Captain Pocock, R.N. of the training ship Wellesley, Rev P. H. Moore, Rev R. N. Roberts, Dr Crease, Messrs .J. F. Spence (honorary secretary to the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade), S. Malcolm (honorary secretary to the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade), T. Scott, M. Cay, jun, W. Cay, J. W. Lamb. T. G. Mabane. W. D. Quick (chief officer the Coastguard), J, Stephens (superintendent of the River Tyne Police), R. M. Herdman &c. The brigade having been drawn up in line on the pier, the order was given for the commencement of practice, whereupon the apparatus was taken from the store house and conveyed to the east end the Recreation Ground, after which a detachment was told off, and proceeded to the mast erected near the pier, and which was intended to represent a shipwrecked vessel. The stand having been fixed, the rocket was fired, and a communication effected. After the hawser had been secured, some members of the brigade were conveyed in the breeches buoy, as also were two of the boys belonging to the Wellesley. In the practice was used the double -sheave block, invented by Mr R. Bell (Woodbine Street), one of the members of the brigade, and which worked very easy. The ordinary Board of Trade single sheave block fitted with rollers adapted to it by Mr Bell was likewise used. In addition to this practice, a rocket, with whip-line and tail block attached, was fired, and was carried fully 180 yards. This was done to show that assistance could be sent to fishing or other low decked vessels, which might lie stranded on the coast. At the conclusion the practice the members returned to the Brigade House and after the roll was called, they were drawn up in line on the pier, and addressed by Captain Robertson, who, after remarking how glad he was to meet them in such numbers, said it was very gratifying to him to witness the very excellent practice they had made. Since their establishment they had had some experience in saving life, although he did not think that they had had any occasion to put forth their efforts in that direction since the occasion of his last visit. He, however, remembered how gallantly they conducted themselves and how successful they were in saving life when some ships were driven on shore near the pier; and no doubt they would bemean themselves in a like-manner should their services again called into requisition. In their practice that evening he was pleased to observe how quietly and orderly they proceeded with their work—there being no noise or talking—showing how greatly they had improved in this direction since their formation. With regard to the firing of the rocket that evening, he must say it was well directed, and showed that the man who had charge of it could aim well. He congratulated the brigade on the efficiency they had attained, and could only say that if were sailor, and had to be ship-wrecked, that was just the locality where he should like such an occurrence take place, for, if so, he would be perfectly sure that he would be saved either by the members of the Tynemouth, South Shields, Cullercoats, or Newbiggin brigade, who were always on the look out when their services were required. Not only, indeed, would he be saved, but be well cared for and attended in the comfortable houses they had erected in connection with the brigades. Altogether he had been much pleased with what he had seen of them and could not but compliment them on the manner in which they had gone through their drill, and he would take care to report accordingly to the Board Trade. Captain Robertson referred the double sheave block, invented by Mr Bell, one of the members the brigade. He had seen it tried at Tynemouth, Cullercoats and South Shields, and was of opinion that it was very great improvement on the old ones. This he would likewise take care to report the Board of Trade. After a few other remarks, the gallant captain concluded his address. Three hearty cheers were then given for him, a similar compliment being paid Mr J. F. Spence and family, and Mr S. Malcolm. The proceedings connected with the inspection then concluded, and Captain Robertson. previous to leaving, took the opportunity of inspecting the Brigade House, with which he expressed himself much gratifie.,

Source: Shields Daily News 26 April 1870

The Tyne Volunteer Life Brigades

It now fully five years since the Tyne Volunteer Life Brigades were established, and in the course of that time they have been the means of accomplishing a great amount of good, in the way of saving the lives of shipwrecked mariners, many of whom, had it not been for the presence and efforts of this noble band of men, might have perished, for in many cases the circumstances in which they were placed rendered it almost impossible for them to be rescued any other means. The honour of initiating the Volunteer Life Brigade movement is due to the Borough of Tynemouth, for on the occurrence the sad loss of life which attended the wreck of the steamship Stanley—which took place on Nov. 24th, 1864 —several those who witnessed that unfortunate and painful casualty were impressed with the great value which would attend the organization of a well-trained band of Volunteers to assist and act in conjunction with the Coast Guard in working the apparatus, and bringing in safety on shore the crews of wrecked vessels. Such an organization was the more needful seeing the limited number of the coastguard at the several stations along the coast. It was true that there were always to be found at our seaports bands of willing workers, but it was seen that their effectiveness was attended with considerable drawbacks owing to their not being properly instructed and trained in the working of the apparatus. Hence it was desirable that there should be an association formed, by means of which those engaging in it would be duly instructed in the particular work to which they purposed to devote themselves, and thereby enabled to become a great power for good. The movement was no sooner initiated in the Borough of Tynemouth than it was heartily responded to, and numbers of all classes joined its ranks, the majority of whom are still connected with the corps, and as zealous as ever in the cause in which they placed their services. It was not to expected that South Shields —the birth-place of the lifeboat—would form an exception in regard to the establishment of a Volunteer Life Brigade, and no sooner was the voice of the sister borough heard in the matter, than a similar corps was formed on the south side of the Tyne, where a numerous and efficient band of volunteers were enrolled, and whose standard, being unfurled, displayed the motto the Borough, “Always Ready,” the truth of which they have fully verified. In addition to Tynemouth and South Shields, Volunteer Life Brigades have likewise been formed at Cullercoats and Newbiggin containing on their respective rolls a goodly number of members. On Saturday evening, Captain Robertson, R.N., Surveyor-General to the Board of Trade, officially inspected the members of the Tynemouth Brigade, which duty he has fulfilled since their organisation, and, therefore, was well able to speak to the efficiency they had attained. Captain Robertson had the satisfaction of complimenting them upon their successful efforts in saving life during the past year—they having been instrumental saving the crews—ten in number of two wrecked vessels. One case, that of a schooner which was driven on the rocks to the north of the North Pier, will be fresh in the recollection of our readers. It occurred during the prevalence a violent gale early in the month of February in the present year, and those who were present and saw the dangerous position of the vessel, will bear witness to the truth of the statement that had it not been for the heroic efforts of the brigade, every person on board the schooner must have perished. The position which the vessel occupied was such that no lifeboat could have reached it. The vessel was driven to and fro by the united forces of the wind and sea, and the crew, in order to avoid the dashings of the heavy breakers, had to huddle themselves together in the forepart of the vessel. Every moment it was expected the ship would go to pieces, and the excitement of those who witnessed the beating and rocking of the craft, and the despairing look of the hapless crew, was of the most intense character. In the meantime the members of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, headed by the Mayor of Tynemouth (Mr Joseph Spence), and his brother (Mr J. F. Spence), were actively engaged in getting a communication effected with the vessel and the pier, and with no little difficulty they at length succeeded, and amid the cheers of the assembled throng they accomplished the work of saving every one of the crew. This was achieved just in time, for but a few moments elapsed ere the last man was landed before the schooner succumbed to the storm, fell over on its broadside, and soon became a total wreck. The crew of that vessel were indeed thankful that such an organization as that of the Volunteer Life Brigade had been established, and of which they were not slow to express themselves, and the part the members of the corps took in their rescue will ever redound to their honour. Yesterday evening Captain Robertson officially inspected the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and well did they merit the commendation he bestowed upon them, for since they have been established they have proved themselves truly efficient and successful in the work of saving life. Like the brigade at Tynemouth, their members are composed of all classes of society, who have banded themselves for one common object—an object noble and God-like—the saving of the lives of their fellow creatures, and that under circumstances of no little difficulty and danger. The members of the South Shields Brigade, with their respected Secretary, Mr Malcolm, have been exceedingly zealous in the movement, and in order to better to carry out their operations they have erected on the South Pier an excellent and commodious Brigade House, which besides affording accommodation to themselves while on duty in stormy weather, has connected with it every requisite appliance necessary for the restoration of persons rescued from shipwreck, and the benefits attendant upon it have often been experienced and attested. The importance and necessity of such an organization at South Shields that of the Life Brigade, has on several occasions been proved, and not a few instances have occurred since their formation, wherein they have been the means of saving the lives of seamen, and that under circumstances in which it could not otherwise have been accomplished. We must not overlook, however, the services of the gallant lifeboatmen who have often gone on errands mercy, and whose skilful daring cannot be surpassed, but it is known vessels often become wrecked where no lifeboat can reach them, hence it is that the value of the Volunteer Life Brigade is felt and acknowledged. On the other hand, of course, there are instances where the situation of the vessels in distress are such that the crews can alone be rescued means of the lifeboats. Both agencies are invaluable and indispensable, and we are glad to find that they cordially and cheerfully unite in working out the common object they have in view, and for which they were established—the saving of human life. Many instances have occurred wherein the members of the Brigade have rendered signal service to persons whose safety has been jeopardized, and there will be many who will recollect the violent storm with which this coast was visited in June of last year, when the crews of several fishing boats ran for the Tyne, and some of which were saved under circumstances of great daring. So highly did the Board of Trade appreciate the efforts put forth on that occasion, that on their being acquainted with the circumstances, some of the members received a special recognition of their services at the hands of that department, also did a seaman, who, acting in conjunction with the Brigade, courageously risked his own life saving the lives of the fishermen. The Tyne ought, indeed, to feel proud of its Volunteer Life Brigades, and give them every possible encouragement in carrying their noble and humane work, for truly they are deserving of our best sympathies and kindliest feelings.

Source: Shields Daily News 26 April 1870



Mr Bell receives recognition for his invention of the double sheaved block.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
The Improved Double Sheaved Block

It will be remembered that Mr Robert Bell, of Woodbine Street, South Shields, member of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade recently invented an improved Double Sheaved  Block with side rollers attached, to be used in connection with the Life Brigade Apparatus, and which was tried at the recent annual inspections at South Shields. Tynemouth and Cullercoats, and found to answer admirably the purpose for which it was intended. By means of this improved double sheaved block, with side rollers, a greater facility is acquired in hauling in and out the breeches buoy in connection with wrecked vessels. On the occasions on which it was tried it received the approbation of Captain Robertson R.N., Surveyor-General to the Board of Trade. The invention was brought under the notice of this department, who after minutely examining it, have approved and adopted it, and in recognition of the ability displayed by the inventor, a communication has just been received by Mr S. Malcolm, the Secretary to the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, enclosing the sum of twenty pounds to be paid to Mr Bell. This sum Mr Malcolm yesterday handed to that gentleman. The invention is not only highly creditable to Mr Bell, but honourable to the corps and town to which he belongs.

Source: Shields Daily News 2 June 1870

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.— The Board of Trade have awarded Mr R, Bell, one of the members of the above brigade, the sum of £20 in consideration of an improvement suggested by him in the travelling block used in connection with the rocket apparatus for saving life from shipwreck.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 2 June 1870

22 June

Marsden Company of Volunteers for Saving Life held their first drill.

A Company of Volunteers for Saving Life been formed in the neighbourhood of Marsden and the members had their first drill last night. There were present on the occasion some members of the South Shields Volunteer Life-Brigade.

Source: Shields Daily News 23 June 1870


7 July

The Annual Meeting took place.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

THE ANNUAL MEETING of Members will be held in the Watch House, South Pier, Thursday Next July 7, 1870, at 7.30 p.m.

S Malcolm. Hon. Secretary

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 6 July 1870


The Swimming Club Annual Regatta included a race for members of the Brigade and pilots.

Prizes to re Competed for Members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and Pilots of South Shields.—Distance 200 Yards. 1st Prize, Silver Tea Pot—2nd Prize, Silver Cruet Stand—3rd Prize, Opera Glass, given by Gentlemen of Newcastle, per M. N. Richardson.

Competitors—H. Clark, J. A. Ramsay, James Ross, Joseph Moffitt.

Joseph Mofitt


J. A. Ramsey


H. Clark


The excitement in this race was principally centred in Mofitt, the youngest of the competitors, who took the lead at the first, and maintained it to the end amid the loud applause of the spectators; he won by ten yards.
The race between Ramsay and Clark for the second place was at one time uncertain; but the former succeeded in retaining his lead, and came in second by about seven yards. The race between Ramsay and Clark for the second place was at one time uncertain; but the former succeeded in retaining his lead, and came in second by about seven yards.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 11 August 1870

15 August

Benjamin Heron was a member of the Brigade.

Fatal Boat Accident at South Shields
Three Fishermen Drowned and a Narrow Escape of Three Others

This morning, between eight and nine o clock, a boat accident occurred at South Shields by which three fishermen were drowned and three others placed in imminent peril of the same fate. The names of the drowned men are Thomas McKelvie, who was about 40 years of age, and lived in West Holborn; Andrew Cunningham, who lived in Thrift Street; and William Barney, who resided in Academy Hill. All three men were married and had families. It appears that the men had gone out to sea about six o'clock this morning for the purpose fishing for salmon. All went well with them up to about half-past eight o'clock, when it is supposed that their nets had got too far in shore and amongst the broken water of a heavy sea that was running. The men endeavoured to haul the nets in, and in the attempt their boat drifted amongst the waves and was immediately capsized, throwing them all into the water. Cunningham and Barney seized hold of the sides the boat to save themselves, while McKelvie grasped one of the oars, but the sea was so strong that they were thrown into the water again. By this time their cries for assistance had attracted the attention of another fishing boat at some distance from the spot, which contained John Baines, Edward Baines, and Edward Napier, all three salmon fishermen. These rowed towards the drowning men, but before they could reach them, their own boat, from the violence the sea, filled with water and was upon the point of sinking, when Edward Baines and Edward Napier sprang out. Fortunately both were able to swim and they struck out seawards, having observed another boat a short distance off. They were soon afterwards picked up by the occupants of the latter boat in a very exhausted state. During all this time McKelvie had been in the water hanging on to the boat as well as he could, but his strength was failing him, and he would inevitably drowned, had not a young man named Benjamin Herring, who had furnished himself with a life  preserving jacket, bravely gone amongst the waves and dragged him out. McKelvie, Cunningham, and Barney were not at this time to be seen, having sank, notwithstanding their desperate struggles to cling to their coble. About fifteen minutes, subsequently, the body of Thomas McKelvie was recovered by a young woman named Mary Stewart, who saw it lying a few yards into the water, were it had washed up. The bodies of Barney and Cunningham could be seen nowhere, and up to eleven o'clock neither of them had been recovered. At the time the accidents happened, the pier workmen were at breakfast, and there were consequently very few persons upon the spot; but the sea was running so high that it is doubted whether the most strenuous efforts could have saved the men. It is said that their boat was a very small one, and that to this is to be attributed the occurrence that has terminated in their death. Last summer a similar accident happened at the same time and at the same place, when two lives were lost. McKelvie's body was removed to the workhouse, and inquest will probably held to-morrow.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 15 August 1870

16  August

The Fatal Boat Accident at South Shields. —Yesterday afternoon, an inquest was held at the Guernsey Arms, West Holborn, before Mr J. M. Favell, coroner, on the body of Thomas McKelvie, who, with two other men, named Andrew Cunningham and William Barney, was drowned on Monday morning by the upsetting of a boat while fishing for salmon behind the south pier.— The first witness called was Mary Stewart, living at the Bents, who deposed to seeing the body of deceased floating in the water about half an hour after the accident. She pulled it out immediately and called for assistance; and the body was removed to the Workhouse. —John Baines, fisherman, living in Brewery Lane, Mill Dam, said that on Monday morning he and other two men were fishing behind the south pier. The deceased and other two men were also in a boat fishing. He saw the deceased shoot his nets too far inshore and then try to recover them. At that time a heavy sea came, which capsized his boat and threw all of them into the water. Witness and his companions rowed up to the spot, but before they could reach the drowning men their own boat was filled with water by another sea, and they were obliged to desist. Witness's companions then jumped out of the boat and swam out to sea, being picked up by a coble. Witness himself swam to shore, and was assisted by a young man named Heron. He saw the deceased Thomas McKelvie lying upon two oars, with his head resting in the water, apparently dead.—The jury returned a verdict of accidental drowning, and expressed their admiration of the conduct of Baines and his two companions.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 17 August 1870

28 August

The Brigade was on standby.

During Sunday the weather continued very tempestuous —with heavy rain and a strong sea. The members of the Tynemouth and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigades were on duty, and the Lifeboat men on the look out, in case their services should be required in rendering assistance.

Source: Shields Daily News 29 August 1870



1 October

The Brigade continues to be involved in the local theatre. A previous performance on 3 September had been under the patronage of Commander Pocock of the Wellesley Training Ship.

Open at 7.15; commencing 7.45.
Admission—6d 1s, 2s and 3s.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 1 October 1870

4 October

Another significant donation to the library.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade House. —R. Thompson, Esq., Royal Arcade, Newcastle, has presented 50 volumes to the committee of the South Shields Life Brigade, for the use of the members of that body at the Brigade House upon the Pier. This gift of Mr Thompson's is the fulfilment of a promise which that gentleman made at the annual meeting of the members of the brigade, held some months ago. On that occasion, allusions having been made to the smallness of the library, and hopes expressed that it would be increased by those who were interested in the welfare of the brigade, Mr Thompson stated that he would give 50 volumes to begin with. No doubt Mr Thompson's example will be soon followed other friends of the brigade.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 4 October 1870


5 November

Mr A. J. Phasey was a musician who played the euphonium.

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of seven books from A. J. Phasey, Esq., M.R.S., M.G.B.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 5 November 1870

12 November

This award was in respect of the boating accident which took place in August.

After the drill of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, to-morrow, the medal that has been awarded to Mr Benjamin Heron, by the Humane Society, for gallant conduct in saving life, will be publicly presented to him by the Mayor of the Borough.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 11 November 1870

12 November

Presentation for Bravery at South Shields

At the conclusion of the monthly drill of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, on Saturday afternoon, the members assembled in the Brigade House to witness the presentation of a bronze medal which the Royal Humane Society had awarded to Benjamin Heron, a young man, for his courage and humanity in having saved the life of John Baines, a fisherman, from drowning on the occasion of boat accident off South Shields, on the 15th of August, 1870. Royal Humane Society Bronze medalThere were present—The Mayor (Mr J. M. Moore), Mr J. C. Stevenson, M.P., Mr A. Stevenson, Mr T. G. Mabane, Mr J. White, Mr J, Nicholson, &c. — The Mayor having taken the chair, rose to make the presentation, and said he need not assure them how readily and with what pleasure he had yielded to the invitation of Mr Stevenson to perform that noble and honourable duty. (Applause). A good deed lived long in the memories of men, but still he thought he might on that occasion, advert to the circumstances which enabled Benjamin Heron to perform the noble service which they had met to recognise. His Worship then recounted the circumstances in connection with the fishing boat accident which occurred off South Shields on the 15th of August, when Heron, arming himself with a life-preserving jacket, rushed into the water and rescued John Baines, the other two men who were in the boat with him having been drowned. He thought they would all agree with him when he said that the action of Benjamin Heron was worthy of all praise and commendation, and showed he had a noble and brave heart. (Loud applause.) It was a proud and gratifying circumstance to him to live amongst such noble men as those by whom he was surrounded; and he was sure they would sympathise with the honour which the Royal Humane Society had conferred upon Benjamin Heron presenting him with the medal (Applause.) His Worship then presented the medal to Heron, and said hoped he would live long to wear it (Loud applause.) He concluded by returning thanks for the honour which had been conferred upon him in being allowed to make the presentation. He was sure that nothing during his year of office would give him more delight than the first act which he had to perform.—Mr Stevenson, M. P., then rose, and having expressed the pleasure he felt at witnessing the interesting ceremony, said he intended to propose that cordial vote thanks be awarded to the Mayor. He believed he was correct in saying this was the first public occasion on which he had come forward in his official capacity, and he did not think he could have made a better beginning than in coming to the Brigade House and seeing the work which the members had to do, and the kind of weather they had to do it in. Mr Stevenson, having spoken in high terms of the services rendered by the Brigade in times of danger, said he always felt proud of the Brigade House. He thought it was an establishment which all South Shields might well proud of, and more so from the fact that the members had rescued 70 or 80 lives from possible destruction.  He then proposed a vote thanks to the Mayor.—Mr R. Ward seconded the motion, which was carried with acclamation. His Worship acknowledged the compliment, and the proceedings terminated.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 14 November 1870

13 November

Mr Byrne was a Chief Officer of Coastguard and played a significant part in the establishment of the local life brigades.

At Grey Street, North Shields, on Sunday, the 13th of November, Mr Lawrence Byrne, aged 50 years.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 14 November 1870

The Late Mr Lawrence Byrne

In our obituary of yesterday there was recorded the death (at the comparatively early age of 50 years, when most men are in their prime), of Mr Lawrence Byrne, late chief officer of coastguard at the Tynemouth Station, which office he filled for many years most creditably. He was best known in connection with the rocket apparatus for saving life from shipwreck, Tynemouth, South Shields, Cullercoats, and Marsden stations being all under his charge. Few of those who knew the man have any idea of the kind of responsibility which this charge entailed, or the amount of physical exertion which at times was required on his part faithfully to carry out the work committed his care. On stormy nights in winter, in the very worst of weather, to have to start from Tynemouth at nine or ten o'clock at night, to visit the out stations as far as Marsden, was a duty which only those can appreciate who have rambled along the coast in the blinding snow storms with which this district is visited during the winter months, and we happen to know that frequently during, the latter part of his service it was one, two, or three o'clock in the morning before he returned to his home, and then very often he was so much exhausted as hardly to be able to crawl to his bed. On the night of the 24th November, 1864, a night well remembered in this locality as that on which the steamship Stanley was wrecked, Mr Byrne was exposed to the full force of the dreadful storm which then raged, and received such bodily damage that he was laid up for weeks, and was for some time so ill that it was doubtful whether he would ever be able to return to duty, and though he was ultimately able to do so, he was never the same man again. From that time his health began gradually to decline, and in a few months symptoms of paralysis of the lower part of the body showed themselves, brought on, his medical man said, entirely by the exposure to which he had been subjected. He struggled hard to do his duty, and was very unwilling to give up. The officials both at the Admiralty and Board of Trade kindly interested themselves in his case, and every allowance that could be was made to keep him at his post. Finally, on the 30th of June, 1869, they came to the conclusion that be was no longer fit for duty, and he was superannuated, the Board of Trade, at the same time, presenting him with handsome gratuity on account of his long and faithful services. It was during Mr Byrne's term of office that the Tynemouth Life Brigade was formed and shortly afterwards the brigades at Cullercoats and South Shields. The members of these brigades owe much to Mr Byrne for his increasing exertions, and the kindly manner in which he in every way in his power endeavoured to make them efficient in the use of the apparatus, which he spent much of his leisure time in trying to improve, and the day may yet come when a modification of his ideas may be adopted. We understand the funeral will take place on Wednesday next, about three o'clock. We think it would be a proper mark of respect to his memory for as many members of the brigades in this district as can do so, to attend the interment, wearing their belts.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 14 November 1870

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

MEMBERS who can attend are invited to the FUNERAL of the late MR BYRNE Chief Officer of Coastguard TO-MORROW from the Catholic Chapel. Belford Street North Shields, at 3 o’Clock. Belts to be worn.

S. Malcolm, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 15 November 1870

Funeral of the Late Mr Byrne

Yesterday afternoon, the remains of the late Mr Byrne, chief of the Coastguards at Tynemouth, were interred yesterday in the Old Cemetery, North Shields. The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade and detachments from the South Shields and Cullercoats brigades, and a number of coastguardsmen formed part of the funeral cortege. There also followed Mr J. F. Spence, Mr Ald J. Spence, the Rev. H. Hicks, Mr Burgess, Mr Archibald Stevenson, Mr Robinson, of Cullercoats, Mr Wilson, Mr John Morrison, Mr Horatio Adamson, and others. The coffin, which was covered by the union jack, and surmounted by deceased's cap and sword, was carried on a gun carriage to the Roman Catholic Church, where the service was conducted by the Rev. Mr Gillow. A procession was then formed to the Old Cemetery, where the interment took place.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 17 November 1870


9 December

The Eagle is wrecked. Although the Brigade successfully communicated with the vessel, the crew did not understand how to use the apparatus and were rescued by the lifeboat.. The Samuel Bernard sank before a rocket could be fired..

10 December

The Gale on the North-East Coast

The weather still continues rather unsettled. On Saturday, the morning broke fine, the wind and the sea having greatly subsided, and a number of vessels arrived during the day. The storm signal, however, continued to be displayed, and it was expected that evening would bring return of the bad weather. But during the night the wind shifted to the north-west, and the weather yesterday was fine, a slight breeze blowing, and the sea quite calm. At night, however, the wind freshened considerably, and continued to blow during the night, but this morning it has again gone down. The Norwegian schooner Amalie, which ran ashore on Friday night, will be stripped and unloaded to-day. It is expected that she will be got off, though it is feared her bottom is much damaged. The barque City of Bristol, which went ashore two or three hours before the Amalie, is a total wreck. The vessel was driven well up, and it was confidently expected that if the sea went down she would float at the return of the tide. The screw-steamer Eagle is very much damaged, and it is feared that only her engines will be saved. The captain of a vessel, which arrived in the Tyne yesterday, states that the Samuel Bernard left Hull on Friday morning, and that the captain's two sons were with him. It is also feared that his wife and two younger children were also with him, the half of a child's foot having been picked up near the South Pier. It was currently rumoured on Saturday, that the John Bowes (s) had been run down off the coast, but that vessel arrived yesterday all well. Large numbers visited the scene of the gale yesterday.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 12 December 1870

12 December

Another addition to the stores.

The committee of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of a cask of beef from Capt. Jas. E. Randle.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 12 December 1870

20 December

The bad weather continues to cause difficulties and the Union is driven on shore. The crew were rescued by the Brigade.

Another Gale- Shields

Last night, a severe gale came away from the south-east about five o'clock. The storm had been expected, and every precaution was taken. The sea during the day was very high, although there was only light wind from the north-east. It broke over the piers with great violence, dashing into the Haven and onto the rocks at the Spanish Battery, and carrying away about 100 feet from the Pomfret and Goole Lifeboat Way. In the afternoon, several laden vessels put to sea; but in crossing the bar several of their towlines broke, placing the ships in imminent danger. In this way, two Dutch vessels were flung athwart the bar, and but for prompt assistance, would probably have suffered. Unfortunately two the seamen were injured and the vessels being put back into the harbour they had be conveyed to Newcastle Infirmary. The calmness continued during the whole day up to dusk, when the wind chopped to the opposite quarter, SE, and suddenly blew a heavy gale, causing the sea to break with increased fury over the bar. A careful watch was kept on both sides of the river, the Cullercoats, Tynemouth, and South Shields Brigades, and the different lifeboat crews being on duty, ready for any emergency.

Source: Shields Gazette & Daily Telegraph 21 December 1870