Events 1882


2 January 1882

Death of a Lifebrigadesman

We regret to record the death of Mr T. A. Wilson, a prominent member of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. Deceased died on Monday evening, after a week’s indisposition. Mr Wilson had been an untiring member of the brigade from its first establishment, and was much esteemed by the whole of the members. His untiring zeal and devotion to duty, in the self-imposed position of "ships’ husband and steward” to his fellow workers, won for him authority and respect. He was upwards of sixty years of age.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 January 1882

5 January

Shields Volunteer Life Brigade


MEMBERS wishing to attend the FUNERAL of the late Mr T. A. WILSON are respectfully informed that it will take place (FRIDAY), at 1 o'clock p.m. from Albert Terrace.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 January 1882

7 January

Yesterday, the remains of the late Mr T. A. Wilson were interred in Westoe Cemetery. The funeral, although of private character, was attended by several members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, of which the deceased was a well-known and energetic member.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 January 1882

7 January

Frederick Jaggers was presented with a bronze medal for gallant services performed at the rescue of the crew of the Atlantic.

Presentation for Bravery at South Shields

After the usual drill of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, on Saturday afternoon, an interesting ceremony took place in the Watch House on the South Pier. This was the presentation of a bronze medal to Frederick Jaggers, a boatman in the Coastguard service, and stationed at South Shields. The interior of the house was gaily decorated with flags, mottoes, &c, and presented a very cheerful appearance. The presentation was made in the presence of the brigadesmen, the coastguardsmen of South Shields, Tynemouth, and Marsden, and a large gathering of the general public. Amongst those present were Captain Johnson, Inspector of Coastguards for the North-East Coast; J. Latter, Chief Officer Tynemouth station; G. Hart, Chief Officer, South Shields station; Ald. Glover, J.P., Mr T. G. Mabane, Mr S. Malcolm, Mr S. Cottew, Mr R. R. Glover (London), Mr R. Howse (Newcastle), Mr J. Dickson, Collector of Customs; Mr W. S. Weatherburn, Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office; J. Crisp, G. Potts, G. Wilson, and others. The audience included several ladies.—The brigadesmen were drawn in line on the east side of the house, and the Coastguardsmen, fully equipped, faced them.—Captain Johnson called Frederick Jaggers, who fell out of the ranks, and approached his superior officer according to naval discipline. Captain Johnson then read the official order for the presentation of a medal for gallant services performed by Frederick Jaggers upon the occasion of the wreck the Norwegian three-masted schooner Atlantic, the South Pier, on the 14th of October last. When the casualty occurred Jaegers did some heroic service rescuing the crew of the stranded ship, and seriously risked his own life doing so. He was, in fact, washed away by a heavy sea, and, but for the assistance of two life brigadesmen (Messrs Walter Ross and G. R Palmer), might possibly have been drowned. The letter stated that the heroism of Jaggers had called forth expression of the satisfaction of H. R. H. Duke of Edinburgh, the Chief Officer of the Coastguard Service, and that the presentation was to be made in a public and suitable manner. After stating the pleasure it gave him to perform the duty of making the presentation, and remarking upon the duties of the Coastguard service generally, Captain Johnson said, while their training was to qualify them, if necessary, in the destruction of human life in the service of their country, he was perfectly certain that every one of them would feel it was a far more higher and more satisfactory thing to one's own feelings when they could bring those qualifications into exercise in the saving of human life. (Hear, hear.) It was not alone in the times of war that the men could shew the stuff they are made off, and he was sure it would be source of satisfaction to the gentlemen composing the Volunteer Life Brigade, who assisted the coastguard in cases of shipwreck, to know there were such brave men in the service. They had paid high compliment to him (Jaggers) in mustering in such large numbers, and he could not omit to mention the honour done them by the presence of the ladies, (Hear, hear.) The members of that Brigade showed how thoroughly they had at heart the appreciation of what is courageous and good coming in such large numbers to witness the presentation. He instanced Mr Mabane as one of the most heroic members of the Brigade, and said that gentleman had on more than one occasion risked his own life for the sake of others. He then presented the medal to Jaggers, amid applause, remarking that it was not intended to be worn, but that he hoped it would be a source of gratification to Jaggers, and that would be a pleasure to his children to look upon what had been gained by their father The recipient thanked Captain Johnson, the men were dismissed, and the proceedings terminated.—On the obverse side of the medal is embossed the Queen's head, and around this are the words “Awarded by the Board of Trade for gallantry in saving life. V.R.". On the reverse side is the design of a raft at sea, containing five shipwrecked persons, three men, a woman, and a child, the latter closely drawn to the bosom its mother. In the distance is a lifeboat coming to the rescue. Around the outside edge of the medal is engraved "Frederick Jaggers, wreck of the Atlantic, on the 14th of October, 1881."

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 January 1882

11 January

Dr Crease gave a series of lectures on first-aid.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Ambulance Class

Last evening, first lecture of the series was delivered in one of the ante-rooms of the Free Library Hall, by Dr J. R. Crease, the hon. surgeon to the brigade. There was a large attendance of the members of the class, in addition to a number of other visitors. Amongst those present were Capt. W. Cay, Deputy-Captain Coulson, Deputy Captain Watkins, Deputy-Captain J. Wood, and others. The lecturer, at the outset, animadverted on the advantages likely accrue to the members by having a practical knowledge of the way how treat on the spot anyone of a shipwrecked crew who should unfortunately have received any injury through the violence of a storm or from other causes. The St. John's Ambulance Association, he remarked, was founded about the year 1859, but up to within the last three or four years had not been brought prominently before the public. There were now 76 centres formed throughout the country. He had lately seen Major Duncan, who had promised to come and deliver a lecture to the members of the Brigade, provided he did not receive orders to go on foreign service. Dr Crease then proceeded with his lecture, which was on the formation of the body, describing minutely the various muscles and veins of the system. The lecture was attentively listened to by the audience, and at the close several questions were put to the lecturer and answered. It was agreed that in future the class would meet on Thursday, instead of Wednesday evenings.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 January 1882

19 January

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Ambulance Class.—Last night, the second lecture of the course was delivered to members of the above class by Dr J. R. Crease, the hon. surgeon to the Brigade, in the Class Room of the Free Library. There was a good attendance, and in commencing the lectures gave a brief resume of the previous week's lecture. The subject of last night's discourse was the action of the blood, and the formation of the different arteries and veins, which were very clearly pointed out to the class. At the conclusion of the lecture the members were put through a little bandaging exercise for wounds in the arms and head. It is expected that the examination for certificates will take place about the end of March.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 January 1882

30 Jan 1882

Storm on the North-East Coast
The Tyne

The spell of advanced spring like weather enjoyed in this district during the last month or so has at last been broken. Early on Sunday morning the wind suddenly veered round to the eastwards, and blowing first a gentle breeze, gradually worked up during the day to a somewhat heavy gale. The sky was overcast with threatening clouds, and there was no mistaking from whence the wind came, for the air was raw and cold. Towards dusk rain began to fall, the wind at the same time freshening considerably. After darkness had set in a regular gale came away, frequently in heavy squalls and accompanied by a downpour of rain. The exact point from which the gale came was ESE. The sea made rapidly, and late on in the day became very heavy. At high water time -midnight—the storm was very heavy. At the entrance to the Tyne the water was exceedingly rough, and the south pier at intervals was enveloped in white water. The barometer was rather high in the evening, 30 25, and since has risen nearly 2-10ths. The Fitzroy glass however, indicates very bad weather. No vessels ventured to sea at last night's tide, but waited to see whether the prospect brightened with the morning.

The following vessels arrived after eight o'clock last night :—Margaret Ann, from Sfax, with grass; Empress, Runcorn, salt; Maud, Tripoli; Ada, London ; Admiral (s), London King Moor (s), do. Thomas Lea (s), do.; Tanfield (s), do. ; Ida, do.; Kelloe (s), do.; Pansy (s), do.; Fairy, put back ; Catherine, Lowestoft; Emerald, Liverpool; Upton (s), Dunkirk.

A watch was kept by the members of the South Shields Life Brigade throughout the night, but happily no assistance from them was necessary.

Rain ceased to fall shortly before day-break, and the wind likewise- abated in force. The outlook to windward this forenoon was more premising, but there was still considerable sea on.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 January 1882


16 February

Frederick Jaggers was presented with the Albert Medal.


21 March

The Mail came ashore on the north side of the South Pier. The crew were rescued by the Brigade,

22 March

The Brigade remain on duty.

The Storm

The gale of yesterday morning was succeeded by calm in the evening, and the sea also became more settled. The weather, however, still apparently unsettled, and there is a probability of another storm within a very short time. The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade remained on duty till ten o'clock evening, but nothing occurred to call for their assistance after the wreck of the schooner Mail. That vessel was carried by the tide a long way the side of the South Pier, and she now lies upon the beach. Salvage operations were commenced last night, and the wreck was soon dismantled, her rigging, sails, stores, &c., being placed upon the pier. It is probable that these, together with the hull of the vessel, will be sold as they lie. The efforts float the steamer R. W. Boyd were unfortunately not attended with success. Between three and four o'clock yesterday afternoon, it was feared that the ill-fated steamer might break on the rocks, and she had to be abandoned by the master and crew. The wind veered round to the north-east, and this change added to the danger to which the steamer was already exposed, and increased the fears entertained by those who were on the look-out. Heavy seas continued to dash against her and sweep her decks with great force and she was observed frequently to change her position. By four o'clock the effects of the captain and crew had been brought ashore, the men being landed by the lifeboats Noble Institution, Tyne and Tom Perry. The Haven boat also rendering assistance. The last to quit the steamer were Capt. Patterson, the chief mate (Dalyel) and the chief engineer (Wood.) A general feeling of relief was felt and expressed by the thousands of spectators gathered in the vicinity of the stranded vessel when it became known that the crew and their effects had rescued. The crew the R. W. Boyd consisted of 19 hands all told. She was built in 1880.  So far her career has been a most unfortunate one. She ought to have proceeded to sea on Monday last, but was detained in Tyne Dock, the alleged cause of detention being overloading. Part of her cargo coals had to be disloaded. On her last voyage from the Tyne she ran into the pier at Dover, and on a former occasion was reported be aground in the Dardanelles. The R. W. Boyd was built Messrs Readhead, of South Shields, her managing owner being Mr J. Wilson, Street, North Shields. At the time of the occurrence the vessel was in command of Captain Paterson, this being his first voyage in her. Formerly she was commanded by Captain Christie, but that gentleman has been detained pending a Board of Trade inquiry into the circumstances the running down of a craft the Toameo, by which two lives were lost, on Saturday last, as the steamer was her way to the Tyne. She is insured the Northern clubs. It has since been ' ascertained that she has holed herself, and a start made with the unloading of the vessel as it was found that that was the only way in which she could be removed.  The work continued until dusk, and was resumed this morning. At nine o'clock the centrifugal pump was sent down, and at eleven o'clock divers went down to inspect the hold of the vessel and to ascertain what damage had been done. It is expected that she will be got off about the next tide.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 23 March 1882

25 March

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Examination of the Ambulance Class

The members forming the ambulance class in connection with the above Brigade were examined for certificates on Saturday afternoon, by Surgeon-Major Hutton late of Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), in the Watch House, South Pier. The number of candidates was 15 and in addition there were present Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary to the Brigade, and Dr J. R. Crease, hon. surgeon, and teacher of the class. At the house the members (who were in full uniform) were drawn up in line, and saluted the examining officer in making his appearance. Operations were commenced by the names being called over, after which the members were examined in the use of the triangular bandage in bandaging wounded arms, shoulders, chest, &c., all of which were very creditably performed. They were next told off into parties of three for the purpose of stretcher drill, carrying wounded persons, and restoring the apparently drowned. The manner in which this part of the examination was carried out favourably impressed the inspecting officer. This being concluded they were next examined bandaging broken thighs, legs &c and in this part of the inspection great dexterity was also shown by them, the bandages round the various parts the body supposed to be injured being very skilfully adjusted. For “splints" the members made use a miscellaneous collection of articles, such straw, old newspapers, bits of Venetian blinds, &c. This being the whole of the practical part of the programme, the men were taken by twos into an adjoining room, and asked several questions in relation to various parts of the body, the arteries, veins, &c, and the means to be taken in cases of burns or scalds, persons suffocated, bites from rabid animals, and the antidotes to be given in cases of poisoning. On the conclusion of his examination Surgeon- Major Hutton addressed the members, and gave a brief resume of the aims and objects the St. John's Ambulance Association. He instanced several cases which had recently come under his notice, where persons had received speedy help from pupils of the association, notably the case of a lady who had been nearly drowned at Plymouth December last, and who was restored after nearly two hours' exertion. He also laid before the members several statistics of the number of persons killed and injured annually on the railways of the United Kingdom, as also the number killed and injured in mines during the last years. From an analysis which he had made he found that more persons were killed and injured on the railways last year than had been killed and wounded during the Afghan and Cape campaigns. In conclusion he congratulated the members on the satisfactory manner in which the various parts of the programme had been carried out, showing that they had been thoroughly trained by Dr Crease, to whom he thought great credit was due. (Applause) He did not want to flatter them, but he must say that of all the examinations which he had conducted he had never taken part in one where the answers to questions had been given in such straightforward and practical manner, and where the bandaging had been so creditably done. (Hear, hear.) He hoped to be spared to visit them again next year for re-examination, when he trusted to see the class at least doubled in numbers, and that he should also hear of classes being started in every workshop and factory in town. (Applause) The movement, he further observed, was spreading to all parts the world, classes being now held Malta, Australia, and in other countries. (Hear, hear.) On the suggestion Deputy-Captain Watkins, three hearty cheers were given to the examining officer, and the interesting proceedings terminated, having lasted for nearly three hours. We understand that on receipt of the Inspector's report (which is expected in about ten days) application will made to the head-quarters of the St. John's Association for permission for the successful members to wear a badge with a cross on the arm, so as to distinguish them from the other members while on duty. It is intended for the class to meet on the first Wednesday of every month for further instruction.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 March 1882


11 April

Mr Potts rescues the victim of a boating accident.

Fatal Boat Accident at South Shields
Gallant Rescue

A painful boat accident, resulting in the drowning of a young woman, occurred last night near the Fish Pier, at South Shields. It appears that two women, named Mary Ann Spence, living in Alma Street, South Shields, and Ann Wilson, of Tyne Street, North Shields, hired a pleasure boat from Mr Hutchinson at the South Pier, and went out rowing. In returning about 7 o’clock, when near to the end of the Fish pier, owing to the ground swell which prevailed at the time, the boat capsized, throwing both of its occupants into the water. Mr G. R. Potts, who for a number of years was hon. secretary to the South Shields Swimming Club, and is a prominent member the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, fortunately happened to be on the sands at the time, and immediately divesting himself of all superfluous clothing, rushed into the water, with a view of saving the lives of the two women. Mr Potts happily succeeded in bringing ashore Mary Ann Spence, who had been clinging to the bottom of the boat, and who was afterwards was conveyed to the residence of a relative in Edith Street, South ShieIds. The other woman was seen by Mr Potts, but he was unable to reader her any assistance, and 6he was drowned. The body has not yet been recovered, but a jacket, supposed to belong to the deceased, has been picked up. When Mr Potts got the survivor ashore she was quite delirious, and kept crying out about some children. It has been ascertained, however, that the young women were unaccompanied by any children. The accident was witnessed by several pilots on the beacon, and they ran to render assistance. Mr Potts afterwards went to the house of a friend at the Lawe, where he was supplied with dry underclothing and stimulants. He was very much chilled, but soon afterwards recovered, and today is going about his business in his usual robust health. During this morning he has received the congratulations of many friends.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 April 1882

14 April

The Late Boat Accident

I leave to tender my most heartfelt thanks to Mr G. B. POTTS, of the South Shields Life Brigade, in rescuing me from my perilous position on Tuesday evening, and likewise to Mrs POTTS for her kindness, and to all that assisted.


Alma Street, April, l4th, 1882

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 April 1882

13 April 1882

Dr Crease is presented with a testimonial by the Ambulance class.

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
The Ambulance Class

A meeting of the members of the ambulance class in connection with the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was held last night in the Watch House on the South Pier. Amongst those present were Dr J. R. Crease, hon. surgeon to the brigade, and teacher of the class; Messrs T. Watkins, G. R. Potts, Walter Ross, G. R. Palmer, J. Buckland, G Gray, W. Purvis, W. S Wood, J. Wood, I. D. Marshall, and J. Carmichael.—After the business of the meeting, which consisted the formation of rules, had been transacted, Watkins, on behalf of the members of the class, presented a testimonial to Dr Crease. It consisted of a study table set, burnished brass, The set includes an inkstand with two bottles, on either side, and a compartment between them for holding pens ; a pen tray ; a paper knife, in the form of a dagger ; and two candlesticks. The ink bottles and the pen box are covered with handsome lids. On either side of the stand is a lion's head, from which is suspended a ring, and on each side is the head of lady. Along the front is the following inscription:—" Dr J. R. Crease, from the S.S.V.L. B. Ambulance Class, 1882." The whole set is very elaborately worked, and highly finished.—In making the presentation. Mr Watkin said the members of the class wished take that opportunity of acknowledging Dr Crease's very able services, and they offered the testimonial with their best wishes. They acknowledged at the same time the great ability Dr Crease had shown as lecturer, and the considerate manner in which he had treated the members, many whom had asked him troublesome questions. Dr Crease's efforts the cause of humanity had been such as to deserve the gratitude of every one present. (Applause) Dr Crease said he was entirely taken by surprise. He had no idea of this testimonial, or he did not think he would have there, (laughter.) There were times in one's life when one was at a loss how to express oneself, and beyond saying that the pleasure he had derived from the class himself had been a real enjoyment he could say no more. What he had been teaching them would be easily carried about, and would be useful to them, not only as lifebrigadesmen, but wherever they were, in pleasure excursions, trains, other places, where accidents might occur (Applause.) He again heartily thanked the members of the class for the testimonial.—The proceedings then terminated.—As the weather was stormy, several of the members remained on the lookout, and later on the number was increased by brigadesmen not connected with the class.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 April 1882

13 April

Unsettled weather causes the Brigade to be on duty.

The Weather on the Coast

The weather on the north-east coast still continues unsettled. The wind has fallen to a calm, but the sea is very rough. During; last night a large fleet of steam and sailing vessels made for and entered the Tyne in safety. The tiers in Shields harbour are crowded with vessels, many them waiting for an opportunity of proceeding to sea. Some of the collier steamers have already been detained two days. The Volunteer Life Brigades at Tynemouth and South Shields were on duty during last night and this morning, but happily their services were not required.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 April 1882

15 April

Storm on the North-East Coast

On Saturday the weather off the Tyne was stormy. The wind blew strongly from the north-east, and there was a heavy sea running off Shields Bar. About four o'clock in the afternoon, the alarm guns were fired, intimating that a vessel was in distress. The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were quickly on the alert, and great numbers of persons proceeded to the South Pier. It appears that the large iron barque Glenfinart, Captain Stirrel, of Glasgow, from San Francisco, with wheat, for Newcastle, was being brought round to Shields, in tow of the tug Great Britain, and when between the South Pier and the Trow Rocks, through the force of the wind and sea, the towline broke, and in order to prevent the vessel drifting ashore the anchor was lowered. The steamtugs Selina and Asia, who were outside, at once came up, and fresh towlines were got out and secured. The anchor was then weighed and the Glenfinart taken in tow, but as the tide was ebbing, it was deemed advisable to keep her out at sea until the rise of the tide. The movements of the vessel were watched with great anxiety by crowds of spectators assembled on the Herd Sand until it was seen she was perfectly safe. The Glenfinart was kept outside until one o'clock on Sunday morning, when she was brought safely into the harbour, and taken t<s Tyne Docks. The Glenfinart is a splendid vessel of 1,530 tons burthen and belongs to Ales. Allan, 70, Great Clyde Street, Glasgow.

Newcastle Journal 17 April 1822




21 July

Surgeon-Major Hutton addresses the Ambulance Class.

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade —The other evening, Surgeon-Major Hutton, the examiner Ambulance Classes under the St. John's Ambulance Association, conducted an examination of an Ambulance Corps at St Helens. He afterwards addressed the members and during his remarks referred in flattering terms to the above Brigade and the newly formed ambulance company in connection with it, under the care of Dr Crease. The Major said: —"Some weeks ago he was examining a class composed of members of the Volunteer Life Brigade, on the river Tyne, at South Shields. That brigade consisted of gentlemen who had formed themselves into a corps for the purpose of saving life from shipwreck, and only three or four days before his examination, they had been instrumental in saving five lives from a shipwreck at the mouth of the Tyne. (Cheers.) Within twenty minutes from the time they had received the signal of the vessel being in distress, those lives were saved. What those men were doing to life at sea the St. John's Ambulance Association were endeavouring to do by all means possible on land. They were not only endeavouring to save life, but also to alleviate the large amount of human suffering and pain which necessarily attended the accidents which were so numerous in this country, and he thought that was a duty which had been too long neglected.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 July 1882

21 July

The Annual Meeting took place in the Watch House.

25 July

SSVLB drill 1882

It is possible that this is one of the photographs.

Shields Volunteer, Life Brigade. __Mr Burrows, photographer, Market Place, has taken some excellent views shewing the members of the above brigade at drill. The portraits are very distinct, and several prominent members the brigade are seen in the foreground. Capt. Johnson, R.N., commander of the local coastguard, is among the group. The ridiculous storm caps, however, which are an encumbrance in stormy weather when the men are on active duty, almost obscure several faces in the photograph. The members of the Ambulance Class are distinguished by their badges, which are clearly shown on their left arms.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 25 July 1882


2 August

The Brigade is called out when the L. T. 73, a fishing boat, goes ashore, but their services are not required.

13 August

The Brigade is represented at the funeral of Mr Richard Dalhousie Ramsey.

Funeral of a River Policeman. —The funeral of the late Mr Richard Dalhousie Ramsey, of the River Tyne Police, took place yesterday at Westoe Cemetery. The coffin was carried by eight members of the force, followed by the family of the deceased, the superintendent and other members of the river police, private friends of the deceased, and members of the Volunteer Life Brigade. The Rev. W. Hanson conducted the service.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 August 1882


4 September

The Shields Daily Gazette announces that it will publish on 6 September a special number to celebrate the opening of the Marine Exhibition at Tynemouth. This includes articles on “Our Life Brigades” and “The Invention of the Rocket Apparatus”:

6 September

Our Life Brigades


It is singularly appropriate that the first exhibition of life-saving apparatus ever held in the north should take place a spot where two the most effective agents of rescue were conceived and grew to healthy existence. To the lower Tyne will ever belong the honour of the invention of the lifeboat and the establishment of the first of those humane associations—the Volunteer Life Brigades. Whilst South Shields reveres the name of Wouldhave, her sister borough on the northern shore clings with pride to the fact that amongst her inhabitants are numbered the men of the Tynemouth Life Brigade-the Premier Volunteer Association of the United Kingdom for saving life with the rocket apparatus.

With the melancholy disaster at the mouth the Tyne eighteen years ago—of which the life brigades was the outcome—every Tynesideman must be familiar. The story of the wreck of the Stanley need not be retold. We prefer to pass over its horrible details, and commence at once with the initiatory movement for the formation the Brigade.

The Stanley catastrophe taught a lesson which was not unheeded. From that lesson has sprung one of the noblest institutions of modern times. The people of Tynemouth did not stand and witness in vain their fellow creatures washed one by one from the stranded steamer and perish owing to the neglect of an excellent engine of salvation and want of organised help in emergency. The getting together and training of a body of men in the use of the rocket apparatus was felt by a few men at least to be imperative. The cause was noble, and how could such a band of men be got together better than by "volunteering?' Thus the idea of the Volunteer Life Brigade came to life and flourished. Records shew that hardly had the victims of the Stanley disaster been put to their last resting place, and the wants of the distressed ones who had the good fortune to escape with their lives boon cared for, when the worthy people Tynemouth were in a public meeting assembled to give form to their great idea by establishing a brigade. On the 5th December, 1864 a large meeting of the inhabitants took place in the Town Hall, North Shields under the presidency of Alderman Jobling, J.P., Mayor. The report shews amongst those present were many men of standing the borough—clergymen, tradesmen, shipowners, professional gentlemen, and others, all evincing a readiness to aid in the good cause. The moving spirit at that meeting, as he is still, was Mr John Foster Spence. He proposed "That with view to assist in saving the lives of those who may be shipwrecked on our shores in future, a corps be formed to be called the Tynemouth Life Volunteer Brigade, the members of which shall be regularly trained in the use of the rocket apparatus; thus having a body of trained men, always able, ready, and willing to assist the coastguard when their services may be required." The resolution was enthusiastically adopted, and a provisional committee formed. Shortly after the public meeting, the committee then appointed met again to put matters into shape. Captain Robertson, R.N., Sunderland, Inspector the Coastguard and Rocket Apparatus, from the first evinced a great admiration for the scheme. Constant intercourse ensued between him and Ald. Spence, from which a friendship grew, resulting advantageously for the movement. The committee very wisely decided to alter the name of the Brigade from “Tynemouth Life Volunteer Brigade "to the more euphonious one of “Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade." At that committee meeting Ald. Spence was made secretary to the Brigade, whilst his brother, Mr Jos. Spence, was made treasurer, positions they have held ever since. The enthusiasm with which the movement was taken up by the people of the borough was shewn by Jno Morrison, who announced that up to that time “one hundred and twenty-five gentlemen had tendered their services." A resolution was also passed that the Brigade should consist of two or three companies of 50 men each.

Eventually, the Committee formulated a list of rules, an important one being No, 10, which provided that when the corps was assembled for drill on active service each member should yield implicit obedience to his superior officer, and discharge the duty assigned to him quietly as possible, But the most important one, perhaps, was No. 11, which placed the men under the command of the chief officer of the coast guard. The rules were forthwith, upon the recommendation of Capt. Robertson, submitted to the Board of Trade in London. A reply from the Lords Committee of Privy Council for Trade soon came to hand, “who willingly accepted the services of the Volunteer Life Brigade as a valuable means of assistance to the Coastguard." They approved of the rule, but suggested that having reference to the 441st section of the Merchant Shipping Act, 184, a clause should be added to the proposed rules, making it perfectly clear that the brigade should act under directions of the coastguard, or other Government officer when present a shipwreck. They further recommended that regulations should be framed as to periodical drill, and for avoiding crowding or confusion when working the apparatus. An excellent rule was also adopted, and has been adhered to since; it was found very advantageous either at drill or when the members were on duty at a wreck. A number of men are told off to keep the ground clear for those who are busy with the apparatus.

In the ensuing spring, a ballot was taken for the election of twelve committee-men to act for the ensuing twelve months, when the following gentlemen headed the poll:—James Gilbert, 33; James Blackburn, 42; Edward Fry, 41; Thomas Fry, 41; John Morrison, James Hindmarsh, 40; Jacob Menzies, Horatio A. Adamson, Rev. H. S. Hicks, 39; Stanley Kewney, 36; Michael Detchen, 35; and Thomas G. Taylor, 34. The Rev. H. S. Hicks was appointed chairman of the committee.

With a view of distinguishing the members of the brigade when duty from ordinary individuals, it was decided that each should wear a belt. These belts, the same being worn till to-day, are made of girthing web, and in the centre is worked in blue the initials of the brigade, and the number of the member. Later on the dress of the brigade men was greatly improved by the introduction of blue guernsey and sou’-wester, both of which bear the initials of the brigade. Every member making himself efficient was presented with this outfit. The work of making the belts was delegated to ladies, who volunteered their services.

The Brigadesmen were originally called to duty by filing a mortar three times in succession, and then a red rocket thrown towards the town. As time went on, successive demands upon the Ordnance Department brought about the three signal guns now existing at the battery, together with permission to erect a platform for mounting them on. Quite a transformation had been wrought at the battery by the first annual meeting, which took place on the 14th Sept., 1865. Another great improvement was brought about before the end of 1865 by the erection of a “house of shelter for the men when on duty." The War Office granted permission to use the site of the old powder magazine for this purpose, and in course of time a wooden building, 30 feet long by 15 feet broad, was provided, towards the cost of which the Board of Trade contributed. In December, 1862(sic), the volunteers underwent their first inspection, and earned such a flattering report from the inspecting officer that the Board of Trade forwarded a donation of £25 towards the building fund of the brigade.

The brigade, however, had not an opportunity of displaying their usefulness until March 19th, 1865, when during a severe gale, the Burton, of Wivenhoe, struck on the rubble at the North Pier end. There was an excellent muster, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to effect a rescue. The vessel went to pieces before a communication could be effected. On three subsequent occasions, the Tynemouth men rendered prompt and praiseworthy service; but the honour of landing the men, as if ruled by destiny, was not to be theirs. Some considerable time elapsed before they landed their “first man." Drilling, however, continued, the men mustering largely. Between June, 1865, and June, 1866, on sixteen occasions the men met for practice, with an average attendance at each drill of fifty-seven men.

On the night of the 17th December, 1872, a terrible storm raged at the mouth of the Tyne. The barque Consul, of South Shields, drove into the pier end during the night, and became a wreck. The volunteers worked assiduously, almost within reach of the waves, endeavouring to save the crew. After their work was over and the victory won, a pang of sorrow passed through their numbers. A member named Arkley was missing; he had been washed off by a treacherous wave, and perished. His family were generously cared for by the multitudes of admirers of the conduct of their brave breadwinner. A liberal sum was raised, not only on their behalf, but to establish a fund in case of similar accidents. A befitting monument marks Arkley's resting-place at the Old Cemetery, North Shields.

After being in existence nearly ten years, the men found themselves in possession of a new watch-house—the same commodious and useful building now stands on the Battery Rock. Few brigades have better head-quarters. The main room of the building is 45 feet by 23 feet, and the committee room attached to it 23 feet by 17 feet. The cost of erecting and fitting up exceeded £250. Very stringent rules have been laid down as to the conduct of the place. Gambling is strictly forbidden, so also are intoxicating drinks. The strongest beverage permitted within the walls is coffee, supplied by the funds. The house is a most entertaining spot, and attracts numbers of visitors, for whom is provided a donation box, so that they may show the size of their appreciation and sympathy in the coin the realm. Around the walls of the large room are fixed up the nameboards from the various vessels which, have gone ashore and received assistance. Perhaps the most thoughtful provision established is that for the reception of rescued mariners. There are baths of hot and cold water, berths to lie in, and a medicine chest ready at hand for any emergency.

During the past eighteen years of its existence the Brigade has continued to fulfil its humane mission. Not a stormy night has gone by that the passage of weather-beaten mariners into the sheltering harbour of the Tyne has not been eagerly watched, and when misfortune bas occurred, assistance has been most efficiently given.

South Shields

Although a comparatively young institution the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade has a noble history, and during the sixteen year and half that have elapsed since its formation it has been the means rescuing the lives of 163 persons, who would otherwise inevitably have found watery grave, many of them within sight of their homes. The Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade has the honourable distinction of being the first institution of its kind established in the United Kingdom, but the South Shields Brigade has the still more enviable reputation of being the first institution of its kind to save life from shipwreck. Stimulated to a good work by their neighbours on the north bank of the Tyne, the inhabitants of South Shields resolved, on the 15th of January, 1866, in public meeting assembled, that they would not be behind in the noble work of assisting to save the life of the shipwrecked sailor. In the previous month a few gentlemen had discussed the matter, and formed themselves into a provisional committee with the object establishing a Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields. The public meeting was held in the Town Hall, and was presided over by the Mayor (the late Ald. Moffatt). At that meeting, the brigade successfully launched and the late Mr Archibald Stevenson and Mr Sam. Malcolm were appointed joint secretaries. The latter continued in office as secretary from that day to this. A good start was made in the number of members enrolled, and when the first drill took place a month after the establishment of the Brigade the membership was nearly 140. This drill was under the superintendence of Mr Byrne, chief officer of Coastguard, then stationed at Tynemouth, assisted by Mr Malcolm, and was witnessed by a large concourse of spectators. One the large travelling cranes attached to the Pier works was assumed to be a stranded vessel, and five men were sent to the top of it to represent the shipwrecked crew. The rocket line was thrown across, and having been secured, one of the men was brought off in the cradle, amid the hearty cheers of the assemblage. The first service rendered by the Brigade was on the night of April 2nd, 1866, when the schooner Tenterden, of Sunderland (whose name-board to this day occupies a prominent position in the Watch House) drove ashore behind the South Pier during a heavy gale. Forty-five members were speedily on the spot, and, under the direction of the Coastguard, succeeded in rescuing the crew, five in number, and a woman and her infant, from the stranded vessel. During the succeeding fifteen months the Brigade attended nine wrecks and saved 30 lives. The crews of these nine vessels numbered 57. The remaining 27, except two boys, were saved, either by the Tyne lifeboats, or by being able to reach the shore themselves. The boys were drowned during a heavy gale on Sunday, January 6th, 1867—one by getting into a boat, which was swamped, and the other by being washed off his vessel by a sea which broke on board. During the first winter of its existence the members the Brigade were very much exposed to the weather while pursuing their arduous and perilous vocation, and it became apparent that something must done to provide for their comfort while duty. An appeal was therefore made the public for funds to erect a Watch House. There was hearty and liberal response, and the result was the erection of the present structure on the South Pier (since greatly enlarged and improved). The plans were gratuitously prepared by Mr P. J. Messent, Engineer to the River Tyne Commissioners, who also rendered valuable assistance during the erection of the house. During the following winter an important addition was made in the shape of an apartment for the accommodation of shipwrecked crews. This room was fitted with a hot water bath, sleeping berths, surgery, &c,, and proved a valuable acquisition to the equipment of the Watch House. The records of the Brigade from this time forward contain a long list gallant deeds on the part the members, many of whom have faced great dangers and risked their own lives for the safety others. No matter at what hour, the severity the storm, the Brigadesmen, adopting the grand motto of the borough, of which all Shieldsmen are justly proud, are "Always Ready" to lend their aid to the shipwrecked mariner, of whatever colour or nationality. When a storm comes on, and danger is apprehended to vessels on the coast, the members muster for duty of their own free will, and frequently remain "watching" in their comfortable and commodious headquarter night after night till the weather moderates. When nothing occurs to call for their services the dreary hours of the night are made pleasant by the narration of yarns suggestive of "life on the ocean wave," by playing of games, &c. In the watch tower regular look-out is kept, and no sooner is a light seen approaching than all play is suspended, and preparations made for facing the elements if necessary. The rocket apparatus is in constant readiness, and when a casualty does unfortunately occur the brigade men thus prepared are frequently on their way to the rescue before the alarm guns have announced the fact to the slumbering citizens of the harbour town. Without going into the details of the services rendered by the brigade since its formation, we may state that during the year ended June 30th, 1882, the members attended four wrecks, and were the means of saving 37 lives. These were the Norwegian three-masted schooner Atlantic, on the 14th of October, 1881 the brig George Clarke, of South Shields, and the ketch Ida, of Ipswich, on the 23th of November, 1881; and the schooner Mail, of Alloa, on the 22nd of March, 1882. The lives saved were—Atlantic, 8 George Clarke, 8; salvage men from the George Clarke, 13; Ida, 4, Mail, 4; total, 37. On the 15th April last the signal guns summoned the members about 3 p.m. to the large full-rigged iron ship Glenfinart, of Liverpool, bound from San Francisco the Tyne, with a cargo of wheat. She had got too close in shore, and very narrowly escaped drifting to the south end of the Herd Sands, but her anchors were let go, and she was eventually towed out of danger. During the past year two interesting ceremonies took place in connection the brigade. Frederick Jaggers, of the Coastguard, for his efforts to clear the lines which had got fouled while landing the crew of the Atlantic, and for his heroic conduct at the wreck of the Ida, was presented with a bronze medal by the Board of Trade, and an Albert medal of the second class. The Albert medal was presented to Jaggers, in the name of Her Majesty, on board H.M.S. Castor, at North Shields. During the past year also an ambulance class was formed in connection with the Brigade, and a course of instructive lectures was given by Dr J. R. Crease, the honorary surgeon. At the close of the course of lectures an examination was held, under auspices of the St. John's Ambulance Association, Surgeon-Major Hutton. Fourteen members the brigade took part and passed this and were awarded certificates of qualification to act as ambulance men, and to wear as such on the left arm the distinctive badge of the Association. In this brief review the history of the brigade we should net omit to mention that it has been honoured by the presence of Royalty, the Duke of Edinburgh having inspected the Watch House and seen a practice by the members in November, 1880. During the year 1878-9 an interesting addition was made to the adornment of the Watch House, Mr R. Watson, artist, having presented his original sketch of the Stanley, made the morning after that now historic wreck, an event which will always be associated with the rise and progress of Volunteer Life Brigades. The foregoing are only a few of the most important events in the history of the Brigade. Equally brave, and equally ready to do and dare, are the lifeboatmen, A healthy spirit of rivalry exists between these two institutions, and it gratifying that this is the case, for each should, if possible, endeavour to excel the other when circumstances call for their united assistance. South Shields is justly proud of these humane societies. It was the birthplace of the reputed inventor of the lifeboat, and its Volunteer Life Brigade was the second institution of its kind established in this country. Although not the oldest brigade, its members have the satisfaction of knowing that they have succeeded in rescuing from shipwreck a greater number of persons than any other Brigade or Life Saving Company in existence.

The Rocket Apparatus

Next to the lifeboat the rocket apparatus is the most valuable means by which shipwrecked mariners are rescued when in peril. It frequently happens that owing to the violence of the gale a ship cannot be reached by the lifeboat, and many cases seamen would lost if it was not for the rocket apparatus. We have frequent instances of this the north-east coast. The number of lives saved by means of this apparatus last year amounted to 657 which is the largest number saved in one year since the apparatus was placed under the control and management of the Board Trade. There are now about 290 rocket stations on the coast.

As it may be found interesting, we give a short sketch of the way in which the apparatus is worked. The principal parts are the rocket, the rocket line, the whip, the hawser, and the sling lifebuoy. As soon as a vessel is perceived to be danger, the rocket, having a light line attached to it, is fired over the wreck. By means of this line the wrecked crew haul out the whip, to which the light line is attached, and which is a double or endless line, rove through a block with a tail attached to it. The tail block upon being detached from the rocket is fastened to the mast or any other object well out of the water. Then the rescuers, by means of the whip, haul off the hawser, to which is attached the sling buoy. When one end of the hawser has been made fast, about a foot-and a-half above the whip, and the other end secured on shore, the life-buoy is run out to the ship, and the crew getting in one by one are hauled ashore. In cases of emergency the life-buoy is worked by means of the whip alone, without the hawser. In order to facilitate the work, a tally-board, with instructions to wrecked crews, printed in English and French, is sent off with the whip, as ignorance in regard to the mode of working the apparatus been the cause of much loss of life.

The of the rocket apparatus is founded on the invention Captain G. W. Manby, F.R.S., who, in 1807, invented a mortar apparatus from the experiments of Sergeant Ball, of the Royal Artillery, a Frenchman, named La Fere. About this time mortar stations began to spring up all over the coast, and in 1814, when the stations numbered 45, Captain Manby received £2,000, in addition to previous grants, in acknowledgment of the good services rendered by his invention Later on Mr John Dennet, of Newport, introduced a rocket which in a short time was extensively used. In 1826 four stations in the Isle of Wight were supplied with Mr Dennet's rocket, but it was not until 1855, when the Government took the apparatus under their own control, that the rocket now in use was adopted. This was the invention of Col. .Boxer. Its peculiar characteristics is that the two rockets are combined in one being a continuation of the other, to that, after the first compartment has carried the machine to its full elevation, the second gives it an additional impetus, whereby a greater range is obtained. The rocket has entirely superseded the mortar in this country.

In America, the mortar is preferred to the rocket for projecting a line over a wrecked vessel. In addition to the travelling lifebuoy they use a metallic car, or small covered boat, which is capable of holding three or four persons who, entering it by a small by manhole, are shut in and drawn ashore, safely protected from injury, even though overturned in the surf. By means of this clever contrivance thousands, of persons, especially invalids, children, and aged persons have been saved. There are altogether 179 stations on the United States coast, which is (lakes and sea) over 10,000 miles in extent, this vast coast being divided into twelve districts. The report of the United States Life Saving Service of 1880 showed that on board of the vessels endangered were 1,989 persons, all of whom were saved with the exception of nine. The total number of lives saved since the introduction of the present system in 1871, to the close the fiscal year in June, 1881, was 11,864, and the total value of property saved as roughly estimated at fifteen million dollars.

The French Society for Saving Life from Shipwreck is modelled on the basis of the English system, and is a vigorous and healthy offshoot. The society was founded in 1865, and since then has continued to render great service in saving life and property. It continues extending its operations along the coast of France, besides introducing the life-saving apparatus into the colonies. There are altogether about 400 mortar and other projectile stations along the coast, and each year great numbers of wrecked mariners are saved by this institution. From its commencement in 1865 to June last year this society has been the instrument of saving 2,129 lives. The boats chiefly used by the life brigade are built upon the model of our own, but connection with the lifesaving apparatus the gun is preferred to the rocket.

In Germany there are 70 lifeboat stations, 50 of which are supplied with mortar or rocket apparatus. The society for the rescue of life from shipwreck provides the whole extent of the German coast with life-saving and since the foundation of the society in 1865 up to Jane, 1881, the total number of lives saved by this means is put down at 1,184. The society is supported by subscription, and from May, 1880, to May, 1881, the amount subscribed by its members, was £57,000. The stations are visited annually by an inspector, and the whole system is well regulated and thoroughly efficient.

In addition to the above, the rocket apparatus and lifeboat institutions are to be found in Russia, Italy, and Spain.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 September 1882

19 September

Stormy weather results in the Brigade being on duty.

The Weather—The weather on the northeast coast during the twenty four hours has been very stormy. A stiff breeze, accompanied by rain and sleet, was blowing from the NNE all last night, and there was a strong sea running. The outlook was so threatening last evening, that a number of the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade decided to hold a watch; and they remained on duty until the tide turned at four o'clock this morning. Only one steamer entered the Tyne during the night. Rain ceased falling during this forenoon, but the sea is reported to be making strongly. There are several vessels weather-bound in the harbour.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 19 September 1882

21 September 1882

The Brigade does a drill at the Marine Exhibition.


THE Members are requested to MEET in the Watch House 2 30 p.m. To-Morrow (Saturday) and will afterwards go to Tynemouth for ROCKET EXERCISE.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 22 September 1882

25 September 1882

The Life Brigade Drill

An unusual amount of interest was centred in the drill by the members of the South Shields Life Brigade. The drill was fixed for four o'clock. At this time the crowd of people was a sight to see. They were in thousands. To the visitors within the exhibition the fact of the drill having to take place appeared to be pretty widely known, and at this hour the terraces and every available corner from which a view of the sands could be had were secured. The sands, the road from the Aquarium right along to beyond the Grand Hotel, and the two gun battery and the intervening grass slopes, were alive with people. Owing to some cause, there was a huge crowd at the head of the main road leading on to the sands. Presently another black mass was seen turning the corner beyond the Grand, and as it joined that already there, the white storm caps of Brigadesmen, looking like regimental helmets, could be distinguished; when the procession got nearer it could be seen that certain individuals riding on the rocket van were improving the occasion by displaying two red signal flags. The party moved steadily down the incline on to the sands, closely hemmed in by the throng, and when finally on the sands and ready to commence, the energies of Inspectors Jessop and Pelton, of the River Police and the Borough Constables were taxed to the utmost to secure clear ground for operations. Eventually the drill commenced, but hardly so ere a most excruciating sound came from the direction of the Aquarium. The agent for certain Siren Fog Horn had taken the situation a glance, and had decided to treat the brigadesmen as he did Lord Ravensworth on the opening day. This salute was followed by terrific roars of laughter from crowd. The unearthly noise was continued, each note being echoed from the seabanks and houses in most singular fashion. It was impossible for the brigadesman to hear their officers’ orders, and in vain they signalled for the thing to be stopped, but the opportunity for a good advertisement was too good to lose, and the gesticulations from the sands were unheeded. To the crowd the performance was a mystery, many evidently thinking that it was some portion of the brigade drill. Eventually, however, a series of war-whoops which would have scared any Indian tribe straight to the "happy hunting ground" brought the siren’s solo to a close, and business proceeded. Owing to the absence of the necessary lighter off the shore, the drill was had along the sands, the temporary mast erected being used by the wreck party. A fairly good shot was made with the rocket by Brigadesman George Gray; but the whip, after striking the yard arm, fell to the ground, and had to be handed up. The length of hawser out was about twenty yards less than that adopted by the Sunderland Brigade, when they drilled earlier in the week. The work of the South Shields men, however, was really clever. They brought off the first man six and three-quarter minutes from the time the word “action" was called, and landed four men in ten minutes, the whole of the men travelling in the breeches buoy without touching the ground. Just as the last man had been landed, the missing keel, in tow of a tug, was seen rounding the corner of the bay. The Secretary of the Tynemouth Brigade (Ald. Spence), who has been instrumental in providing these drills for the edification of the visitors, proffered the use of the keel for another shot, but the offer was declined as the Board of had only sanctioned the use of one rocket for each drill. It was a great disappointment that the keel was not brought round in time. Ample instructions were given to the men in charge, and the delay should have been satisfactorily explained. The apparatus having been stowed away in the van, a return movement to the Board of Trade station at the Spanish Battery as at once made. There were seventy-five members present. The officers charge were:-1st division, Captain William Cay; 2nd Captain Cottew and Deputy T. Watkins; 3rd, Captain Matthew Cay, and Deputy A. Whitelaw; 4th, Captain T. Mabane and Deputy J. Wood.

The return procession was followed by a great throng, right as far as the fountain at the end Front Street, but when it proceeded down the hill towards the battery, the crowd fell back. The van was drawn by two horses belonging to the Tyne Commissioners' Pier Works, but the hauling ropes were out either side, and the Brigadesmen walked in two lines, holding them. The red flags were again displayed by Bob Weils, who rode on the front the van, evidently as proud as Barnum himself.

Generous Conduct of the Tynemouth Life Brigade

On the occasion of the visit of the Sunderland Brigade last week, the Tynemouth men kindly invited them to the watch-house, and gave them a substantial tea, which, as we then reported, was greatly appreciated. On Saturday the same generous hospitality was extended to the South Shields Brigade. After depositing the apparatus at headquarters, the men and officers were invited into the watch-house by Ald. Spence, and they then found tea ready and awaiting their arrival. The repast was of a most substantial kind, and was very welcome after the afternoon's work. Miss Fayle, Miss Spence, Mrs Morrison, Mrs Arrowsmith, and Miss Arrowsmith, who had prepared the tea, now waited upon the men, assisted by Ald. Spence, Mr John Morrison, and Mr Litter, chief officer of the Coastguard.

After tea, Capt. William Cay addressed the company, and said as their old and valued friend, Ald. Spence had entertained them that afternoon in a kind and princely manner - (loud applause)-they could not leave the room without tendering him most hearty thanks for his kindness and courtesy. (Loud applause) He could only add that he hoped the time was not far distant when they, the South Shields men, would have the pleasure of entertaining Mr Spence and the members of the Tynemouth Life Brigade at South Shields. (Applause) He hoped that Mr Spence might, be spared to spend many happy days. (Loud applause, followed by three ringing cheers, followed by another for the “wife and bairns.")

Ald. Spence returned thanks and explained, as Captain Cay had been pleased to associate his name with the entertainment, he begged to remind them that the tea was given by the Tynemouth Life Brigade, and that a good many members, besides himself, had interested themselves in making their visitors as  comfortable as possible. (Applause) The worthy alderman having explained what had been done to secure the lighter, and the object of the drills, said he believed the Tynemouth Life Brigadesmen had great pleasure in seeing them there that day, and fully reciprocated their kindly feeling. (Loud applause).

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 25 September 1882


13 October

A period of unsettled weather requires the Brigade to be on duty.

The Weather on the North-east Coast

During the past few days the weather on the north-east coast been very unsettled, and ship captains arriving in the Tyne report having encountered heavy gales with high seas crossing the German Ocean. Yesterday afternoon the wind was strong from the coast, accompanied by a continuous downpour of small drizzling rain, which continued until a late hour. As darkness set in there appeared every prospect of the wind increasing to a gale, and the sea broke heavily along the coast. Several members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were duty in their Watch House, but fortunately nothing occurred to call for their services. The wind fell about midnight, and to-day there is an immense improvement in the weather.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 October 1882

16 October

The Weather on the North-east Coast
Narrow Escape of a Vessel at South Shields

Since the improvement of Saturday the weather has again been of a stormy description. The wind has continued from the eastward, freshening at intervals almost to the force of gale, accompanied by blinding showers of rain. The sea has been in a perturbed condition for over a week past, and several vessels which had put to sea, have been obliged to run back to the Tyne for shelter. The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were again duty last night, and shortly after darkness set in, the men on the look out saw a sailing vessel in a dangerous position behind the South Pier. So close did she appear to the chore, that the brigadesmen, with the assistance of several spectators, ran the van containing the rocket apparatus along the South Pier to be in readiness in case of the vessel coming to grief. She, however, managed to weather the end of the South Pier, through skilful handling, and came into the harbour in safety. Inside the harbour the range is so strong that this morning the ferry boats and steamtugs rolled and tossed, as if in a troubled sea. Last night, the aspect of matters was so bad that none of the steam trawlers, or steam lineboats ventured out, the consequence being that there were no fish at the North Shields Market this morning. Only a few vessels sailed to-day, and they were of the larger build. Two sailing vessels put into the Tyne this morning, wind bound. The barque Ampthill, commanded by Capt. Cobb, from Stockton to Blyth, in ballast; and the brig United, Capt. Chiney, from Maldon to Sunderland, in ballast.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 October 1882


15 November

The Brigade is on duty during stormy weather.

The Life Brigades

Watches were kept throughout the night at both piers. There was a splendid muster at the Brigade House, Tynemouth, from six o'clock, and the South Shields men were likewise ready for any emergency.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 November 1882


5 December

The Brigade attends the wreck of the Olaf Kyrre. Later that day a schooner has a narrow escape.

Gallant Entrance of a Schooner
Exciting Scenes

South Pier, 3 p.m.

About half-past one o'clock, the men on the lock-out at the Brigade House reported a sail in sight off the harbour, but at a considerable distance. Owing to a huge cloudbank at the time she was lost sight of, and although numerous glasses were directed to the place where she was reported to be, she was hidden for a considerable time. Eventually the cloud appeared to divide, and against the dull blue horizon, two masts, with a scant display of canvas, were detected by the aid of the glass. The vessel was reported to be heading south-south-west and travelling very fast. In a little while she could be made out with the naked eye, and on this report reaching the crowd outside the Watch House, much excitement prevailed. This was intensified, however, when the watchers reported that she had altered her course and was heading for the Tyne. An instantaneous movement took place along the pier. The sea had not lost a bit of its fury, and the prospect of any vessel entering the harbour without mishap was an extremely gloomy one. The sea on the bar was exceptionally furious. Coastguardsman Fred. Jaggers and the Brigadesmen on duty, prudently decided to get everything in the utmost state of readiness, and accordingly they proceeded down the pier, taking the rocket van as far as it was possible to go. A dense crowd of spectators followed close at their heels, and finding the gates at the pier end shut against them, remained in a packed mass, despite the heavy showers of spray, which every moment rose over their heads. By this time the schooner had made rapid progress towards the bar, and when she was hidden behind the staging, a portion of the crowd mounted the parapet of the pier, to their great personal risk, to get a better view. The excitement had now become intense.

No finer seamanship was ever witnessed than the handling of the schooner as she entered the harbour. As she approached the entrance every vestige of her was often lost to sight, except her upper yards and a portion of the sails stretched upon them. It seemed impossible for anything to live through the tremendous sea, which was one mass of fury from pier to pier, and specially dangerous near the south side. Far away the horizon gloomed down on a great waste of rolling waves. Nearer, the bar was one unbroken line of breakers composed of vast masses of water too heavy to be lashed into foam. The schooner was very near the South Pier, and, at the point where she entered, the waves seemed at their highest. The approach of a vessel in such a se drew down great crowds of people to see her enter. It was thought barely possible that such a thing could be attempted without disaster, by such a craft. The schooner came straight on carrying light sail, but fiercely impelled by the strong wind, dashed forward violently at times on the crest of the advancing waves, or labouring through seas which seemed at every moment on the point of swallowing her up. It was evident that the hand in charge of her knew how to guide her to best advantage. So severe was the struggle, and so skilful the handling that the excitement of spectators could with difficulty be kept down. It was thought she must be dashed against the South Pier even after she had got through the worst of the breakers. Two hands were seen at the helm, beside them the captain who now and then raised his arm to give directions to his men. Just in time he headed his vessel to the northward. She answered gallantly, and, labouring heavily still, but through the worst of the seas, took her course into the channel. Here a number of tugs were waiting her. The South Shields lifeboat, which had been launched to be ready in case of casualty, also showed outside the Fish Pier, and met the schooner as she disappeared up the harbour.

Previously, when the schooner had all but conquered her difficulties, she was met by a hearty cheer from the pier, which the captain gracefully acknowledged by touching his hat, keeping his weather eye meanwhile on his craft, and on the seas yet to be gone through.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 December 1882.

7 December

The Brigade rescues most of the crew of the Flid.

9 December

A public fund is opened to provide a reward for the pilots who rescued the crew of the Olaf Kyrre.

The Gallant Rescue by Pilots

We publish to-day certain communications from gentlemen who have interested themselves in giving effect to the general desire that there should be some public recognition of the services of the 16 brave pilots who rescued the crew of the Olaf Kyrre. The vessel stranded on the sands at the back of the South Pier on the evening of Tuesday, when the storm was at its height. The night was dark, and fierce showers of hail, driving on the east wind, made it difficult even to look seaward. The South Shields Life Brigade had fired six rockets. More than one had gone right to the ship, but the men, who had taken to the rigging and were exhausted the by long struggle with the storm were unable to reach or use the lines. Then the cry arose for the lifeboat. No recognised coxswain was on the spot, and it was a regulation that the keeper of the keys should not give them up except to one of these. Meanwhile the cries of the men on the doomed ship came through the storm to the excited and anxious crowd shore. There were two alternatives. Either the crew of the doomed craft must perish within a few yards of rescue or the lifeboat must be got out. The Life Brigade could do no more. There was no certainty that even the lifeboat could battle successfully with the waves which rose black out there in the darkness, and broke in white masses against the dull sky. But it was determined to make the attempt. The doors of the lifeboat house were torn open by force. Round the boat were speedily clustered a crowd of willing workers, some of them the same men who had been working in the Brigade. They did not leave their trying task of launching the boat till they had themselves been drenched by the incoming waves, some had become severely distressed reason of their efforts. The boat disappeared in the darkness, manned by her crew of 16, and in charge of coxswains Purvis and Chambers. For about hour nothing was heard or seen of her, and the anxiety for the crew of the ship became merged with anxiety for the crew of the lifeboat. At last a glimpse of her was seen through the darkness, but she speedily disappeared again seawards. It was only after the men had been saved that the story of the struggle to save them could be told. After long pulling against the wind and sea, and buffetings which had threatened every moment their destruction, the short space between land and the brig was covered and the grappling irons thrown on board. It had not been long fixed when the hold gave way, and the lifeboat and her crew were carried once more with great violence towards the shore. They rowed back, and again fixed their grappling irons to the wreck. They had got one man on board when the hold again gave way, and the boat and crew were drifted once more towards the sand. They made a third gallant effort, a third time fastened their boat to the brig, the crew were taken on board, and safely landed in an hour and three-quarters after the boat first went out into the storm. Some of the lifeboatmen were nearly as much exhausted as the men they had saved. This is the act of heroism which has touched the hearts of this community, and which it is proposed to signalise by some public reward. Mr Malcolm, hon. secretary the South Shields Life Brigade, has consented to become treasurer. We need not say we shall be glad to receive and acknowledge sums of money that may be offered to behalf of the fund, and hand them over to Mr Malcolm, who also will receive subscriptions.

The following subscriptions have been left at our office to-day:-


£. s. d.

Alexander Green

10 0 0

Thomas Gates

0 10 0

J. Noble

0 5 0

T. F. Wilson

0 5 0

R. F. Rutherford

0 5 0

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 December 1882

11 December

A rescued member of the public is taken to the Watch House.

Unhappy Tailor at South Shields

About half-past three o'clock yesterday afternoon, two young sailors were proceeding along the South Shields pier, they heard the cries of some person evidently in distress, and upon looking round they saw a man hanging onto the piles of the new landing stage. The men immediately ran for a lifebuoy, succeeded in hauling him up into safety. He was then taken to the Coastguard Rocket House, which was at time in charge of Coastguardsman Humphrey Ashton, and who getting the key of the Life Brigade House, closely adjoining, the man had a warm bath and restoratives, and dry clothing were also given to him. He was afterwards conveyed to the Police Station, at the instance of Deputy- Capt. G. R. Potts, where he gave his name as Michael McCourt, tailor, residing in Union Street, Newcastle. He also says that he has a wife and four children.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 December 1882

14 December

Ald. Glover invites the Brigade to Supper.

In recognition of their recent hard work, South Shields Life Brigade are to entertained to supper by Ald. Glover, J.P, next week. The worthy Alderman has, we understand, given several much-needed utensils for the Watch House at the Pier.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 December 1882

Tea at the South Shields Brigade House

The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and few friends, including Mr J.C. Stevenson, M.P., the Town Clerk (Mr J. M. Moore), Mr J. L. Hall, J.P., Captain Johnson, R.N., Mr Latter, RN., the Rev J. McKenzie, Mr S. Oliver, Mr J. Robinson. the coastguards of Tynemouth and South Shields, the officers of the Wellesley, the pilots who distinguished themselves at the last storm, &c., were entertained to tea in the Brigade House, South Pier, last night, by Ald. Terrot Glover, he himself presiding. After the cloth was removed, the secretary of the Brigade (Mr Malcolm) read letters of apology from the Mayor (Mr J. P. Wardle), who enclosed a £5 note for the funds of the Brigade; Canon Chester. Mr Robt. Glover, of London; Mr J. F. Spence, of North Shields; and Dr J Crease. —Ald. Glover said he had great pleasure in, being surrounded by the members of the Life Brigade and the gallant young men who were so brave in the late storm. (Hear, hear.) He witnessed from the window of his house the gallantry which had become known throughout the whole of the land, and he was proud both the Life Brigade and the pilots. He was sure there was no South Shields man that was not proud of the pilot lads. (Cheers.) The brigadesmen were self-denying body and deserved great praise, for at times (they would be four or five nights out of bed during storm, and at no time shirked their duty. (Applause.) They were also anxious to relieve the sufferings of those who were brought on shore, and for that purpose had started ambulance class, of which no less than 15 had passed successfully their examination. (Hear, hear.) He must also say a word in favour of the coastguard, who were always ready and at their post, and willing at all times to do anything calculated to save the lives of those in distress. (Applause). As far as the mistake in not giving up the key of the lifeboat house was concerned, he might say that a similar thing would not happen, as fresh arrangements had been made. He begged to propose the health of his friend Captain Johnson, who had retired from the command of the station. (Cheers) Captain Johnson, R.N., returned thanks, and said that when he received an appointment he would endeavour to get amongst them again. (Applause.) Mr Hart, R.N., said he thought they would be all glad have Captain Johnson again for their commander. (Cheers.) As for the coastguard, it was quite as honourable to be on shore as to be on the sea, blowing away the walls of Alexandria or killing the enemy (Cheers.) Mr Hart. R. N., made a short speech and spoke of the bravery the pilots in saving the crew of the Olaff Kyrre at so much risk to themselves. Mr J. M. Moore said the Life Brigade, the Coastguard, and the crew of the lifeboat seemed to work together well, and only tried to outrival each other in doing good. (Cheers.) A little circumstance had been mentioned to him, and it was that one of the men who was in the lifeboat had just a day or two before left a vessel which he thought was unseaworthy, and people had said it was want of pluck in him, out he had proved otherwise, or he would not have been one of the lifeboat crew, and further, he had only acted the part of a sensible man in leaving the vessel, which, unfortunately, had proved his fears correct.—The Rev J. McKenzie, Mr J. C. Stevenson, and others made speeches, between which several songs were sang, one (“Ne good luck aboot the house") being by the Chairman, Ald. Glover.

Source: Shields Daily News 22 December 1882