Events 1878

tug towing sailing vessel



11 February

The Mabel came ashore 200 yards to the south of the South Pier. The crew came ashore in their own boat and were taken to the Watch House.



14 April

The Dunrobin Castle was a collier.

Yesterday morning, while several members the South Shields Swimming Club were bathing at the South Pier, they picked the name-board of a vessel. It is about seven feet long, and has on it, in yellow letters on black ground, the words "Dunrobin Castle." The board was takes to the Volunteer Life Brigade House, where it at present remains. It is quite new, and has several new brass screws.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 15  April 1878




13 July

This is probably in connection with the addition of a Drying Room.


TENDERS are required, not later than the 22nd inst., for ALTERATIONS to the Life Brigade Watch House, South Pier. Plans and Specification may be seen there and after the 15th inst. The lowest Tender not necessarily accepted.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 13 July 1878

18 July

The Annual Meeting took place in the Watch House.


21 August

The Brigade appeared at the Durham County Agricultural Show.

Prior to the close of the show last evening the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade exhibited their full practice on the show ground, and greatly interested the visitors from the country.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 22 August 1878

24 August

The Gateshead went ashore at the end of the Fish Pier. The Brigade’s services were not required.


11 and 12 September

Thomas Houlsby was one of the earliest members of the Brigade and had played a prominent part in several rescues.

South Shields Pilots in Thursday’s Gale

With reference to the gale on the Yorkshire Coast, it appears that during the night of Wednesday and Thursday about twenty pilot cobles left the Tyne for the South in quest of vessels for Shields harbour. Amongst the number were the Martha, belonging to Thomas Houlsby, South Shields, who was the sole occupant of the boat; the Henry, belonging to Thomas Bone, Shields, in which were the owner and other two pilots named respectively Edward Purvis Thomas Purvis; the Lovely Nellie, belonging to John Marshall, South Shields, containing the owner and John Bone. There was also the: Mary Edith, belonging to Thomas Wells, South Shields. Fortunately, the Mary Edith succeeded in running into Sunderland. The Henry is also reported by the pilots, who have come to the Tyne, to have reached Whitby safety. The Lovely Nellie ran ashore on the south side the entrance the river Tees, but her occupants were happily got ashore in safety. As nothing has been heard of the Martha, grave doubts are entertained for her safety. Her owner lives at the Coble Landing, South Shields, and has a wife and several children. The captain of a foreign schooner, since arrived, reports that during the gale, and when twelve miles off the land, the Martha was alongside and Houlsby asked to taken in tow. He threw a rope to the schooner and another rope was thrown to him by the crew of the vessel, but both were missed. The coble then drifted away, and since that time neither the boat nor its occupant have been seen, and it is feared that he has been drowned. The pilots report the gale, which burst suddenly upon them, as being of a most severe character. When they left the Tyne the night was calm, and there was no indication of a storm,

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 14 September 1878

The Missing South Shields Pilot

Last night, a meeting was held in the Watch House of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade for the purpose of opening a subscription for the benefit the widow and family of the late Thomas Houlsby, a South Shields pilot, who is supposed to have been drowned during the gale on the Yorkshire coast last week. Mr A Cottew presided, and there was a good attendance. Mr R. Hobson was appointed hon. sec., and G. B. Potts, treasurer. It was resolved that the committee of the Life Brigade, together with the officers, and those present, form themselves into a committee to solicit subscriptions, and it was further decided that subscription lists be placed in the banks of the town. £20 were subscribed at the meeting, and other promises have since been received.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 21 September 1878

THE Members the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and any Gentlemen wishing to assist in raising subscriptions on behalf of the WIDOW and Six CHILDREN of the late THOMAS HOULSBY are requested to meet at the Watch House, This Evening at 7 30.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 20th of September 1878

FRIENDS desirous of Contributing FUND being raised for the support of the Widow and Orphans of the late THOMAS HOULSBY, will oblige by leaving their Donations at any of the Banks in this town, or giving the same to any of the Committee of the Volunteer Life Brigade, it has been decided to close the same on Friday next, October 5th.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 28th of September 1878



17 November

Although the coastguard thought they saw a vessel in distress, nothing was found.



To-day, the weather is more settled. The wind is quite calm, and the sea has fallen considerably. During yesterday there were frequent heavy squalls of wind and rain, and the sea was very rough. Thousands of persons, many of them from a distance, visited the piers at Tynemouth and South Shields yesterday. Several steamers left the Tyne yesterday morning, and there were a few arrivals during the day. Fortunately, no casualty occurred in this district, except the damage to the pier at Tynemouth, already reported. Careful examination of the beach between Shields and Whitburn has been made, in order that the supposed loss of a vessel early on Saturday morning in the neighbourhood of Marsden might be confirmed, or otherwise. The wreckage, reported in our Saturday's issue having washed ashore at Frenchman's Bay, appears, on a closer examination, to have been in the sea for some time, and it is now supposed to belong to the new screw steamer Diligent, of Sunderland, which was run into and sunk off the Tyne by the screw-steamer Filey of Newcastle, on the morning of the 30th August. As there are no other indications of a wreck having occurred recently, the general opinion prevalent in Shields is that the coastguardsman who reported the signals of distress has been mistaken; although on the  other hand, it must be stated that he is very positive he did not make a mistake.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 18 November 1878

27 November

The Brigade was inspected.

Yesterday, Captain Prowse, R.N, Inspector General of Coastguard, paid official visit, accompanied by Captain Johnson, R.N., to the South Shields Coastguard Station, and also inspected the rocket apparatus, and the Volunteer Brigade Watch House. Capt. Prowse was much pleased with the additions and alterations which have recently been affected the Watch House.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 28 November 1878

28 November

The crew of the Jacob Rothenburg were rescued by the Brigade.


14 December

The Rev. Culliss gave a series of evangelical services during this week.


REV. W. B. CULLISS will Address the above in the Brigade House, on Saturday Evening at Seven o'Clock.

Admission by Ticket only, for which apply as follows: —Life Brigade, to the Captains of their Divisions; Pilots, Andrew Harrison, Lifeboat House.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 7th of December 1878


THE Brigade will PARADE for DRILL at SIX o'clock on Saturday Evening, instead of Half-past Three afternoon.

S.  MALCOLM. Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 7th of December 1878

9 December

The Brigade was on look out during a period of severe weather.



During the past few days the weather upon the north-east coast has been very wintry, and on Saturday evening snowstorm set in, the showers being both frequent and heavy. The same state of affairs continued throughout yesterday, and last night the weather seemed as unsettled as ever. Although the fall snow has not been so heavy as was in the storm of the 12th ult., yet the depth yesterday was between seven and eight inches. The wind was variable from northeast to east, but been only light there was no sea worthy mention on the bar. As the showers of snow and hail were, however, perfectly blinding at times, the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade remained on duty until three o'clock yesterday morning, lest any vessels in entering the harbour should get out of their course. The members were again on duty last night. The screw-steamer Stagshaw remains ashore on the Black Middens, although efforts were made on Saturday to get her off.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 9th of December 1878

12 December

The alterations were the addition of a Drying Room.

Yesterday, Mr J. G. Swanston, Assistant Secretary, Board of Trade, visited the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House, on the South Pier, accompanied by Mr S. Malcolm, the secretary of the brigade. Mr Swanston expressed himself gratified with the alterations and additions which have recently been effected in connection with the Watch House, and complimented the committee on the success of the institution.

Source: Shields Gazette and Daily Telegraph 13th of December 1878