Events 1883


13 January 1883

The Brigade intend to hold a ball on 22 January.

The members the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade will hold a ball in their Watch House at the Pier shortly.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 13 January 1883

15 January 1883

The vessel which had the narrow escape has not been identified.

The Storm
South Shields
Narrow Escape by a Steamer
Serious Damage to Property
The Groyne Light Out Again

The weather on the north-east coast still continues in a very unsettled state, and a very heavy sea has been running off the mouth the Tyne, with the wind light from the ESE. From about six o'clock Saturday evening the wind freshened considerably, and watch was kept by the members of the South Shields Brigade. Keeping watch on a Saturday or Sunday evening, it may be mentioned, is a rather monotonous affair, for as seen as twelve o'clock approaches, all games, &c., are stopped until Monday morning. To while away the time the members generally have make an inroad on the well-stocked library. Often they on such occasions, resort to music, and commence to sing some of Moody and Sankey's well-known melodies, being accompanied on the harmonium by a professional brother, who is always to be found at his post. Nothing of an exciting nature occurred until about four o'clock yesterday morning, when a large screwsteamer was observed to be in proximity to the South Pier; in fact, she was so close in that no difficulty would have been experienced in throwing the heaving-line on board, instead of firing a rocket, had she come to the ground. The members on duty, along with the Coastguard, immediately rushed along the pier to their rocket van, which had been run down some hours before, and which was standing a little to the westward of the ferry bridge, to be in readiness should the vessel unfortunately strike the sand. After running about halfway along the south side of the pier, the master found out his dangerous position, and immediately changed his course. He turned his head to sea again, and then rounded the pier end, eventually getting safely into the harbour, after receiving a severe buffeting on the bar from the heavy seas. No other sail came in sight until about half-past seven, when a schooner and brig entered the harbour in safety, experiencing heavy weather entering the channel to the river. The members remained on duty till daylight. Deputy-Captain Whitelaw was the officer in charge. The Brigade is still gaily decorated with and bunting, and will remain so until after the entertainment to be given to the members and their wives next Monday. The new cooking stove, presented by Ald. Glover, has also been fitted in its position, and is a great Improvement on the old one.

The tides of Saturday and yesterday were very high, and at high water the sea was making a complete breach over the piers, especially on the south side—this structure yesterday being covered with gravel, stones, sand, &c., which had been washed up. Last night, between seven and eight o'clock, at times it was equally heavy, and several persons, especially young females, received a good ducking in venturing too far along, although warned not do so the policeman and some of the brigadesmen.

On Saturday evening, the light shown from the lighthouse, recently erected on the Fish Pier, again collapsed, the gas pipes having, it is said, received some damage, from heavy seas washing up against them. Yesterday a gang of men were engaged repairing the damage, but had not got it completed, as last night it was lit up by the aid of oil, and was not showing the eclipse, but was of a stationary character. This morning the wind backed to SSW, and the sea has since fallen.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 15 January 1883

18 January

Further recognition of Frederick Jaggers exploits is shown by a presentation and a dinner.

Presentation to a Coastguardsman at South Shields

Last night, there was a large gathering of Lifebrigadesmen and gentlemen belonging to South Shields, at the Marine Hotel, Ocean Road, for the purpose of witnessing a presentation to Mr Fred. Jaggers, chief boatman in the Coastguard staff at the South Pier. Mr Jaggers has to his credit many acts of bravery in efforts to save life from shipwreck, and he already holds, amongst other substantial acknowledgments, the Board of Trade bronze medal, and the cherished “Albert Medal" granted by Royal favour. Besides he is a most genial fellow, and has established himself in general favour in the town. Last night he met with a most enthusiastic demonstration of good feeling and admiration. The presentation consisted of a very handsome Meerschaum pipe and case, the gift being quite a work of art. The origination of this present has a rather humorous side, and is an evidence of the good-will felt towards the recipient. It appears that Mr Salmon, Solicitor, South Shields, met Mr Jaggers recently in the street, and the Coastguardsman was smoking the proverbial short clay. The donor asked how it was that so distinguished a "tar" came to be using such a plebeian implement, whereupon replied, with characteristic joviality, that "it was the best he had got." Mr Salmon immediately gave an order for the present referred to. It was decided by other gentlemen, to use the occasion the presentation, to honour Mr Jaggers and his fellow Coastguardsmen to a dinner. At 8 o'clock, about fifty gentlemen sat down to a most excellent repast supplied by Mr and Mrs Armstrong, the host and hostess of the Marine Hotel, the proceedings being presided over by Capt. Bewicke, of the 5th Durham Rifle Volunteers. The company included Mr George Hart, chief officer of the Coastguard South Shields; Mr S. Benjamin (vice-chair), G. R. Palmer, Messrs. W. W. Pleets, J. Stokoe, E. Blair, Phinn, R. Robson, W.  Grey, W. Lowe, W. Stewardson, J. Kohen, C. E. Watkin, Alex. Purvis, K. Shields, Robert Wells, W. Steele, John T. Softley, C. Bullock, R. Thornton, A. Purvis (coxswain the lifeboat Tyne at the wreck the Olaf Kyrre), &c. The room and tables were most tastefully decorated for the occasion. After dinner, and when the customary loyal and patriotic toasts had been disposed of, the Chairman called upon Mr Phinn to make the presentation. Mr Phinn, referring to Mr Jaggers' connection with the Shields coastguard establishment, and many acts of bravery, said they had met that night to perpetuate one of the greatest traditions of old England— to "Honour the Brave." When they looked at the roll of brave man connected with the mouth of the Tyne, any individual must possessed of peculiar and striking characteristics if he distinguished himself from his fellow men. Their friend, Mr Jaggers, had those characteristics, and by his courage, energy, and devotion to the cause of saving life, had already earned the recognition the Board of Trade, and next, that of the Queen. Mr Phinn’s remarks were received throughout with enthusiastic applause, and at the conclusion he handed the present to Mr Jaggers, saying that he hoped he would long be spared to be a follower of Sir Walter Raleigh and enjoy his weed.—Mr Jaggers acknowledged the gift amidst a perfect ovation. Several toasts followed, including the heaths of Mr Salmon, the “Chief Officer of the Coastguard," the ”Coxswain of the lifeboat”, Mr and Mrs Armstrong, all which were enthusiastically honoured. A most enjoyable evening was brought to a termination at one o'clock, the magistrates have granted two hours' extension time for the occasion.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 19 January 1883

22 January

The Brigade ball took place.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

Never since the formation of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was such a sight witnessed within the walls of the Watch House, on the South Pier, as was seen last night, the occasion being a ball given to the members and their wives. Stretching from the Brigade House to the end of the railings was a large canvas tent, and inside were some large forecastle lamps, Chinese lanterns, &c., the whole being tastefully decorated with flags Along one side of the tent was displayed the new flag just furnished by the Board of Trade, in the centre of which is a large full-rigged ship. To show this to advantage one of the large port lights was placed at the back, the effect being very fine. The Christmas decorations remained in the house, but in addition several Chinese lanterns were hung up and illuminated. There was a large muster of members with their wives and sweethearts. There were also present, Messrs Malcolm, M. Cay, W. Cay, Wood, G. R. Potts, Dr Crease, A. Whitelaw, S. Cottew, T. G. Mabane, T. Coulson, &c. The rocket house for the time being was converted into a refreshment saloon. Previous the proceedings commencing, Mr Malcolm, on behalf of the officers, welcomed the men and their wives. He said that this year they had made an innovation which he hoped would be acceptable to them. They were often told that they were a gallant brigade, and he hoped that the members would shew that evening that they were gallant by choosing their partners for the first dance. The band, a string one, was stationed at the south end of the room, and was conducted by Mr Cooper. After an overture by the band the ball commenced and was opened with the "Keel Row," Captain W. Cay and Mrs M. Cay and Captain M. Cay and Mrs Crease leading off. In the intervals between the dances the company were entertained to songs and recitations given by the members and some friends. Among those who thus contributed were Messrs. Bell and Walton and Deputy Captain Whitelaw. Mr Burrows was also present, and entertained the company with his musical glasses. The greatest treat of the evening was Mr P. T. Marshall (a gold medalist), who gave four recitations in capital style, and also sang a song. Too much praise cannot given to the Coastguard for the manner in which they decorated the place.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 23 January 1883

26 January

A member of the Brigade dies suddenly on his way home from the ball.

Sudden Death of a River Policeman- Yesterday, Sub-inspector Stephen Barnett, of the River Police, died at his residence, Campbell Street, South Shields. Deceased was at the entertainment giving to the Volunteer Life Brigade, of which he was a member, at the watch house, on Monday night, and not feeling well he left to go home about nine o'clock, but while walking up the pier took a fit from which he never recovered consciousness. He was 51 years of age, had been 23 years a policeman under the River Tyne Commissioners. He leaves a widow, who is an invalid, and four children. The deceased was well known in the district, and highly respected.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 January 1883

28 January

Funeral of a River Tyne Police Inspector

Yesterday afternoon, the remains of Sub-Inspector Barnett, of the River Tyne Police staff, at South Shields, whose sudden death was reported on Saturday, were interred in Westoe Cemetery, The funeral was largely attended by friends of the deceased, and besides there was a large concourse of spectators at the cemetery. The cortege left the residence of the deceased, in Campbell Street, preceded, by a good number of the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (of which association Mr Barnett was a member), in command of Captains T. G. Mabane, W. Cay, and Deputy Capt. J. Wood, and immediately following the relatives were the members of the Tyne police, under Inspector Bavidge, of South Shields, and next a large body of Foresters, of order deceased had been a prominent member The funeral service was read by the Rev. Walter Hanson in a most impressive manner. He referred to deceased's connection with the Life Brigade and said that he hoped God would preserve all members from danger while in the discharge their duty to their fellow men. In addition, a service attached to the order of Foresters was also read by Brother Robson.

Deceased's death is regretted by a wide circle of friends, whose esteem he had gained and held by uniform courtesy and good nature to all with whom came in contact. His connection with the Volunteer Life Brigade was of long standing. He was devoted to the cause of saving life; his earlier days having been spent at sea, he, like many other members of the brigade, learned to appreciate the work Inaugurated by Ald. John Foster Spence, and since so well carried on at the Tyne Piers. In 1876 Barnett nearly lost his life whilst on Brigade duty at the shipwrecks which took place near to the South Pier in that year; and shortly after the wreck the screwsteamer Tyne, deceased, accompanied by Capt. Mabane, was endeavouring pick up something to identify the vessel which had been wrecked, and was struck by some wreckage, his leg was broken, and he was being carried away, when he shouted loudly for assistance. Captain Mabane succeeded in getting hold of him, although the sea was very high, and at great risk to himself. He carried Barnett in his arms until further assistance was secured. Deceased was then removed the Ingham Infirmary, where he remained for several weeks, until able resume his duty.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 January 1883

29 January

Thomas Hewett receives a Board of Trade medal for his gallantry during the rescue of the crew of the Flid. Concerns were expressed that Humphrey Ashton had not received similar recognition.

THE BOARD OF TRADE AND THE SOUTH SHIELDS COASTGUARD.—We understand that the Coastguardsman Thomas Hewett, belonging to the South Shields staff, has been awarded a bronze medal by the Board of Trade, for bravery displayed at the rescue the crew of the schooner Flid, wrecked behind the South Pier, during the recent gales. The medal will be formally presented at the next Life Brigade drill.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 January 1883


5 February

Presentation for Bravery at South Shields

An interesting ceremony took place at the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House, at the South Pier, on Saturday afternoon. The members the brigade met for their usual monthly drill, after which the bronze medal of the Board of Trade for gallantry was presented Thomas Hewett, of the Coastguard. The drill was witnessed by Captain D'Arcy Denny, R.N., the newly-appointed Inspecting-Commander of the Coastguard for this district, and was the smartest on record, the time occupied between the word of command being given till the landing of the first man being only 5 minutes 10 seconds, and till the landing the second man 6 minutes 25 seconds. About fifty of the volunteers were present, as well as the coastguardsmen of the South Shields station, under George Hart. The officers of the brigade were Captains M. Cay, S. Cottew, and T. G. Mabane; Deputy Captains A. Whitelaw and Jas. Wood, and Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary. At the conclusion of the drill, the officers and members returned the Watch House, where several ladies were assembled to witness the presentation. Mr Malcolm said he had great pleasure introducing Captain Denny, the new Inspecting Commander of the Coast guard. (Applause) They had had great experience in Inspecting Commanders during the seventeen years of their existence, and hitherto they had been favoured with gentlemen who had paid them every attention, and looked after them most assiduously. From what had heard of Captain Denny, he believed that gentleman also take hearty Interest in their work and pay them frequent visits. (Hear, hear.) Board of Trade bronze medalCaptain Denny was not only there on his first visit, but also to perform an interesting ceremony, namely, the presentation of a medal to Thomas Hewett, of the coastguard, for his gallant conduct at the wreck of the schooner Fiid (Applause.) He was sorry there were not two medals to present that afternoon, for not only did Thomas Hewett distinguish himself on the occasion referred to, but Humphrey Ashton did likewise. (Loud applause) He did not go along the hawser to the wreck, but he did his best to clear the breeches buoy when it was fouled, and was thrown down by a heavy sea and had to swim for his life. He was sorry that, although his brave act was mentioned in the report to the Board of Trade, they had not thought fit to distinguish him in a like manner. He hoped that it was not yet too late, and that these occasions would be an incentive to them all to do what they could, when the emergency arose, to bring to shore the poor fellows cast upon our coast. (Applause) Captain Denny then formally made the presentation, after which he expressed his thanks for the favourable manner in which he had been spoken of by Mr Malcolm, on behalf of the members of the Brigade. With regard to the drill, he must say he never saw one more creditably performed, nor more smartly, and with such perfect silence and good order, which were most necessary these occasions. He hoped should have the pleasure of seeing a great deal of them before he left this district. —Three hearty cheers were then given for Captain Denny.—Captain Cottew, as the senior officer in command at the wreck of the Fiid, bore testimony to the bravery, both of Hewett and Ashton —Capt. Denny said he was new to the division, but having learned the circumstances, he would have great pleasure in recommending to the Board of Trade, as strongly as he could, to make some recognition of Ashton's bravery. (Loud applause)— The proceedings then terminated. —The medal is enclosed in a neat morocco case. On the obverse side is the Queen's head in relief and under it the letters “V.R.”. Around this are the words “Awarded by the Board of Trade for gallantry in saving life. On the reverse side is the design of a raft at sea, containing five ship wrecked persons, three men, a woman, and child, the latter closely drawn to its mother's bosom. In the distance is lifeboat coming to the rescue. On the outer edge of the medal the following inscription is engraved:—''Thomas Hewett, wreck the Flid, on the 7th December 1882”.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 February 1883

February 15 1883

Dear Sir

Referring to your recent inspection of the South Shields Life Brigade and your presentation of a Bronze Medal to Thomas Hewett Coastguard awarded by the Board of Trade for his gallantry at the wreck of the schooner “Flid”.

I wish to state for the information of the Board of Trade that the members of the Brigade feel very much disappointed that no award was made to Humphrey Ashton whose services on the same occasion have already been reported.

I have seen his exertions at several wrecks and if his case can be favourably recommended it will be encouraging to him and pleasing to us.

Yours faithfully

S. Malcolm

Captain Denny R.N.
Inspecting Commander

Source: Minute Book 1

8 February

A rocket fired by the Brigade flies over the Vega and crashes through the glass roof of Tynemouth’s new railway station.  The Vega was pulled into deep water by tugs.

9 February

The Brigade makes contact with the Ann of Guernsey. The crew were rescued by the lifeboat.


7 March

The gale is so strong it moves the Brigade van along the pier and breaches the Fish Pier.

The Storm on the East Coast
Heavy Snowfall and Damage to Shipping
The Gale at Shields

This morning found a considerable abatement in the violence of the gale. The wind had dropped considerably, but the sky was entirely overcast, and snow fell more quickly and regularly, until a thick layer covered the ground. Up till forenoon this state of things remained, when the wind freshened from the NNE, having backed to that quarter from NE. The atmosphere is cold, and there is every appearance of a renewal of the gale.

From noon yesterday, when a small steamer got into the river, not a vestige of sail or vessel of any description has been seen. The sea was terribly wild again at high water (1 30 a.m.), and a repetition of the scene at mid-day yesterday occurred under cover of the darkness. It was stated that it is many years since the water was seen in such a violent state and to rush so far on shore as it did yesterday. Seas frequently broke on the pier and ran along into the Commissioners' Yard, and into the Coast Guardsmen's quarters at the South Pier. The storm of sand from the Herd Sands and Recreation Ground was terrible to pedestrians journeying towards the pier, as also was the awful stench from the filth, which is being carted on to the grounds daily. The storm of grit and pebbles only commenced by the Marine Hotel, but the latter was met with far down Ocean Road. Considerable damage has been done by the sea, and the beach near the pier is strewn with timber from Tynemouth pier. The ticket office from the north-side landing stage has also journeyed over the harbour. The Fish Pier has had a breach washed in it, and the lighthouse is standing on an island. The gas pipes, we hear, are also again broken, and the light last night was furnished by an oil lamp. During the high tide yesterday, the lighthouse was enveloped in water, and the keeper was seen to be making signals to the shore—supposed to be for the gas to be turned off.

The wind forced the rocket van, which runs on the pier railway, nearly the whole of the way along the pier. The van is exceedingly heavy, and the brake was down when it started on its journey. It was taken down the pier again by a number of Brigadesmen, who had a hard task to make headway against the wind. There was a terrible sea breaking ashore along the coast towards Marsden. At Frenchman's Bay, the water ran up the face of the high cliffs, and on reaching the brow, was hurled by the wind across the fields. Despite the onslaught of the storm there was the usual crowd of sightseers huddled together under the lee of the Watch House. This was the only possible standing place, and often the onlookers were in a whirlwind of sand.

South Pier, 6 a.m.

Shortly after midnight, the wind came away in gusts with renewed energy, accompanied by most terrific hail showers. The glass up to 6 a.m. had risen 1-10th, but the sea is still tremendously high. At high water this morning, the piers were in the same state as yesterday, huge volumes of water ever and anon being thrown over them. No lights have been observed during the night. A very large number of the members of the Brigade remained on duty until six o'clock this morning. Shortly after supper was disposed of last night, Deputy-Captain Whitelaw called all the new members of the Brigade together, and by means of the small apparatus which is rigged up in the house, explained to them the mode of fastening the breeches-buoy, &c., on to the hawser, and likewise the way to fasten the line on to the rocket before firing. In this way nearly an hour was spent very profitably.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 March 1883

8 March

The Pier Works Yard was adjacent to the Watch House.

Great Fire at Shields

This morning, between five and six o'clock, a fire was discovered in the cutting shed, belonging to the River Tyne Commissioners at South Pier Works, South Shields. The outbreak was discovered by P.C. Purvis, constable in the service of the Commissioners, and Thomas Hewitt, a coastguardsman. At first Purvis endeavoured to put out the flames with buckets of water, but they spread very rapidly, owing to the force of the gale which was blowing at the time. Hewitt at once alarmed the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, who were on watch in consequence of the storm, and they proceeded to the scene with view of rendering assistance. By this the fire had obtained a firm hold, and the hose belonging to the Pier Works was got into operation, but there was a deficiency of water, due probably to the severe frost. Messengers had been despatched to the Central Police Station, and in a short space of time the fire brigade in command of Major Teevan was at the scene of the conflagration. By this time the shed, a wooden structure, was completely enveloped in flame which shot up with a terrible glare. The illumination was seen all over the town, and the news of the outbreak soon drew together a large concourse of spectators. The police brigade soon got their apparatus into action, and a strong force of water was running through the pipes, but as there was no chance of saving the cutting shed, the efforts of the firemen were directed to preventing the flames from attacking the engine shed. While so engaged three of the borough policemen, namely, Menzies, Gibbison, and Ostone, narrowly escaped serious injury by the falling of a missive iron travelling crane. The engine shed was fortunately preserved, but the cutting shed was entirely demolished, as well as the travelling crane. The three cutting machines, though not destroyed, are very much twisted and injured by the action of the fire. The site of the building is a confused mass of ruins, nothing remaining intact except the tall chimney at the south end. The direction of the wind fortunately assisted in the fire from the engine shed otherwise the damage must have been must more extensive. As it is the damage is very considerable, although no estimate of the amount can yet be formed. The building, we understand, is covered by insurance. Mr Messent, the engineer, visited the scene during the morning, the flames were got under about nine o'clock, but for a long time afterwards water was poured upon the burning mass, which was constantly being fanned into flames by the high wind. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it was discovered near the boiler chimney; and gradually worked its way over the whole of the structure, even against the wind. The building was erected in 1866, and the foundations were being renewed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 March 1883

11 March 1884

The Brigade is on duty during another storm.

A Stormy Night
Narrow Escape of a Schooner

South Pier, Monday, 6 a.m.

Since shortly after dinner yesterday, the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade have been on duty. At high water in the afternoon the scene from the South Pier was one of awful grandeur, the North Pier at times being one mass of foam, while on the South side matters were very little better. The tide was the highest recorded for this year, and every now and again the spray was coming in large volumes over the pier, drenching to the skin all unlucky pedestrians who might the moment be walking on the promenade. About five o'clock a tremendously heavy squall of wind, accompanied by hail and sleet, came away, and it was impossible to see more than a dozen yards seawards. Just before this happened a large schooner was observed to be making for the harbour. The members on duty made their way as best they could along the pier, and on arriving opposite the large deposit of stones to the east of the gangway, they discovered that she was driving rapidly on to that place.  Fortunately the weather at this moment cleared up, and by skilful seamanship she was again got into right channel for the harbour, receiving a severe buffeting in crossing the Herd Sand. At this time a large screw-steamer was observed to be leaving the harbour. Her course was anxiously watched, but she got out safely, and proceeded south-eastward. At 7 o'clock the number of members watch was greatly augmented by fresh arrivals, and it was deemed advisable, seeing that the weather was getting worse, to run the rocket van down the pier. The members had scarcely arrived back at the house from this no means easy task, on account the strong wind blowing, when the look-out in the tower reported a light at the end of the North Pier. Immediately the members again turned out, and after proceeding to a spot near the gates, it was found that the light was on the pier itself, and was supposed to have proceeded from a lamp carried by someone examining the large crane, present being erected by the Tyne Commissioners. Nothing further occurred to attract the attention of the members up to ten o'clock. At this time one of the heaviest squalls experienced during this storm came away, and for about twenty minutes it was nearly impossible to face the heavy snowstorm prevailing. At midnight there was no change in the weather, several severe squalls being encountered, the sea also continuing to break very heavily. Between one and two o'clock the wind suddenly shifted to the NW, and after blowing from that quarter for short while veered round to the ENE, from which direction it came in stronger gusts, being accompanied with vivid flashes of lightning. After three o'clock the wind considerably lulled, and the sea in the offing seemed to be heavy. A steam-tug left the harbour at six o'clock this morning, and in crossing the bar shipped some rather heavy seas. The members of the brigade remained on duty till daylight.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 March 1883


The Brigade Ambulance Class forms the basis for the St John Ambulance Association in South Shields.

14 April

St John Ambulance Association

The second examination of a portion of the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade for certificates from the St. John Association, qualifying them to render first aid to the injured or apparently' drowned will take place at the Watch House, South Pier, this afternoon, The examining officer will be the same as last year, viz., Surgeon-Major Hutton, late of the Prince Consort's Own Rifle brigade. To popularize the movement, the members of the class have arranged for Dr Hutton to deliver a lecture on the objects of the Association. This will take place in the Free Library Hall this evening. The Mayor will preside. We understand that the principal employers of labour in this district have signified their entire concurrence with the movement. At the conclusion of the lecture the members of the class will give practical demonstrations in bandaging, stretcher drill, &c., to show how to treat an injured person on the spot until the arrival of medical assistance.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 April 1883

"First Aid to the Injured."
The St. John Ambulance Association and South Shields

A vigorous effort is being put forth to promote the establishment, in South Shields and neighbourhood, of classes, under the auspices of the well - known Ambulance Association of St. John, for the diffusion of knowledge amongst the people, especially working men, respecting the proper handling of injured persons and what should be done in cases of accident. For some time a class has been in existence in connection with Volunteer Life Brigade. This class went through their annual inspection on Saturday, and the presence in Shields of the Society’s Inspector was made the occasion of a public demonstration in favour of the formation of a Centre and branches. Surgeon-Major Hutton, of the St, John Society, lectured to a large audience in the Free Library. His explanation of the work of the Society will be found below.

The Brigade Class

The members of the Ambulance Class in connection with the Volunteer Life Brigade were inspected in the afternoon. The examining officer was Surgeon-Major Hutton, late of the Prince Consort's Own Rifle Brigade, and he was accompanied by Dr J. R. Crease, hon, surgeon to the Brigade, and teacher of the class, and Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary. Twenty-one candidates presented themselves for examination, being an increase of five the previous year—the number of last year's pupils presenting themselves for re-examination being 15, a falling off of one. The members of the class were drawn up in line in the house, and on the arrival of the examiner received him with the usual salute. No time was lost by the inspecting officer in commencing operations, which he did by putting them through bandaging exercise. This was most creditably performed, the expeditious and neat manner in which the bandages were put on the shoulder, chest, head, &c., being most praiseworthy, the younger members appearing to manipulate the bandages with as much ease as the older pupils of the class. This part of the programme having met with the entire approval of the examining officer, they had next to show the various methods in which to arrest bleeding in the arm, leg, and other parts of the body. This having also met with the approval of Dr Hutton, they were next exercised in the restoration of the apparently drowned. Restoring the apparently drownedThis seemed the crucial test of the examination, the best part of the afternoon being devoted to this feature, but as usual the members showed they had received a thorough knowledge from their instructor. They went through Dr Marshall Hull's and Dr Sylvester's methods, the examining officer severely cross-examining the candidates as to what had to be done in the first place and what had to be done last. Dr Sylvester, we may incidentally remark, has just been awarded a premium of £50 for his valuable researches in connection with the restoration of the apparently drowned. The carrying of injured persons singly and in couples was next gone through in a most satisfactory manner, after which the members were put through the stretcher drill. In this part of the examination patients were laid on the floor, supposed to have had their legs or thighs broken. After placing splints, consisting of straw, paper, old bandboxes, &c., on the wounded parts, they were securely bandaged, and lifted to the stretchers and removed. Having expressed approval with this part of the examination, Dr Hutton next questioned the candidates theoretically, and for this purpose they were taken by threes into one of the adjoining rooms. This finishing the proceedings, the men were again formed up into line, when the examining officer informed them that it would be his pleasing duty to report favourably of the class to the parent society. It was his usual practice at the conclusion of examination to say a few words to the pupils, but as he had to address a meeting that evening he would reserve all he had say until then. The interesting proceedings then terminated with three cheers for Dr Hutton.

Lecture at the Free Library

In the evening, a free public lecture was given in the Free Library Hall by Dr Hutton, on the work of the Society. The lecturer entitled his discourse, “First Aid to the Injured." The Mayor (Councillor J. P. Wardle) presided. There was a good audience, and amongst the company were Ald. Dale, Councillor Oldroyd, Councillor Owen, Dr Crease, Dr Munroe, the Revs C. E. Adamson, Nason, W. Steele, and Boot, Messrs R. Readhead, S. Malcolm, Buckland, A. Allen, Briggs, R. B. Railton, Geo. Robson, Chief Coastguard officer Hart, &c. In addition there were a large number of the Volunteer Life Brigadesmen forming the Brigade Ambulance Class, in full uniform, accompanied by Coastguardsmen H. Ashton and F. Jaggers. The Mayor, lecturer, and Brigadesmen and others were loudly cheered on putting in an appearance.

The Chairman, who said he was very pleased to see a number of ladies present, expressed himself gratified at being called upon to preside at a meeting for such a praiseworthy object. It was a broad platform upon which they were met. It was one entirely free from party feeling or politics, their object being the alleviation of distress and aid to those of their fellow-creatures who had the misfortune to meet with accidents. (Applause.) It was a question which concerned them deeply, as in the many workshops on the banks of the Tyne and in their own town, no matter how well they might be managed, accidents frequently occurred, and when they did happen, if a knowledge of how to give a little timely and necessary aid was widely known, much trouble and pain to the unfortunate might be avoided. (Applause.) He hoped that after Dr Hutton had delivered his address that numbers would come forward and enrol themselves as members, and afterwards take a practical interest in the work, which the proceedings of that evening were intended to promote. (Applause.) It would one of the most worthy acts of their lives; was one of the most Christianlike objects they could interest themselves in. (Applause.)

Dr Hutton then, in response to the Mayor, rose to address the meeting, and was greeted with loud applause. He said that about a year ago he was deputed by the society to which he belonged to visit South Shields and examine an ambulance class which had been formed by a number of their gallant Life Brigadesmen. (Applause.) Again, he had had the pleasant duty of visiting South Shields and re-examining the class that he met last year. A circumstance occurred on the occasion of his first visit which deeply impressed upon him the importance of their Life Brigade. He recollected very well that only four days before that visit that the Brigade had been instrumental in saving four lives from shipwreck. (Applause.) He was told that seven minutes elapsed after the Maid, of Alloa, struck before the first man was landed on the pier, and in twenty minutes all four lives had been saved, (Applause.) That circumstance reminded him that whilst the Life Brigade worked to save life from the sea, the St. John Ambulance Association were doing all in their power to save life on land, and to alleviate the large amount of pain and suffering attending the hourly occurring accidents in our great manufacturing and mining country. (Applause.) He would tell them something about the order of St. John. The order dated very far back indeed—as far back as the time of the Crusaders, who established an hospital in Jerusalem, and dedicated it to St. John, The only passport requisite for that institution was that applicants should be in suffering and pain. (Applause.) The great knights old took a solemn vow to carry the work throughout the world. Dr Hutton then explained how the order was established in London in 1160, how its operations were carried on, and how, after many years, the work lapsed through apathy, but was recommenced about 50 years ago, and had since prospered. The society had been doing good in every shape and form, and its latest effort was a share in that interesting assembly that evening to inaugurate in South Shields an extension of the work. (Applause.) Dr Hutton then, as it would be necessary for him to describe the instruction given by the association to its pupils, detailed the courses of lectures, five in number, which were delivered to classes. Pupils were first told something about the structure of the human body, the bones, muscles, the circulation the blood, and the nervous system, care always being taken to use plain and familiar terms. The second lecture referred to the blood vessels —- arteries, and veins, and how to stop bleeding, which was a most important question. The third lecture dealt with broken bones, simple and compound fractures, and how to treat the injured until the arrival of medical aid. This was a most important part to study, as simple injuries could easily be made into complicated ones through ignorance in handling. The fourth lecture had to with the apparently drowned—a most important question for a maritime population, and for the members of the Life Brigade. In addition to apparent drowning, instruction was given with reference to bad cases of burning, and, considering the dangers of such mishaps, which were so constantly run by those employed in the neighbouring chemical factories, how to render first aid interested them as well as the question of drowning. The fifth lecture was devoted to methods of moving persons to avoid pain and further injury. Such were the subjects upon which instruction was given; and after the lectures, the society examined their pupils. The word examination, at the present day, had an ominous sound, but he would appeal to his gallant friends, the Life Brigadesmen present, to say if the examination of the St. John Association was in any way a formidable affair. (Applause and laughter.) Personally he always tried find out what the pupils knew in preference to discovering what they did not know. (Hear, hear.) He made cardinal points of how bleeding could be stopped; what should be done in cases of burning, and apparent drowning, and how a limb should treated and the patient carried to the hospital? Those were the tests used, and he thought all would agree that he did not ask too much (Applause.) Scientific questions rarely entered into the examinations, but he might add that when at some ladies' classes, he was asked about such matters as the circulation of the blood, and the nervous system, and, so at their examinations, just to gratify their curiosity, he himself put in a few questions of the kind to please them. (Laughter and applause.) Those pupils who passed examinations were granted a certificate, but the diploma only lasted for one year. The Society were extremely anxious for their pupils to keep their knowledge, and to check any tendency to take up the work under momentary enthusiasm, and then forget it. Pupils were re-examined, and if efficient, the Society were recommended to renew the certificates, and he was extremely glad, in this respect, to be able to say that he should have the pleasure of asking the association to confirm the certificates of the Life Brigade class. After the third year the Society rested assured that they could leave their pupils to themselves, but they still had a little hold upon them, for after a further examination they were entitled to wear a badge issued by the association, in bronze, silver, and gold, at the option of the pupil. (Applause.) The lecturer next quoted, at great length, statistics of lives lost in peaceful pursuit —at sea, from boating, railway, street, factory, and mining accidents; also returns, shewing the numbers of persons injured from various causes. He pointed out that deaths and injuries from peaceful occupations exceeded by far the work of wars, and argued that if it was necessary go have in the army schools of instruction with reference to the injured in battle, how much more necessary was it that such schools should be established in connection with civil life, where injuries were continually occurring morning, noon, and night? (Applause.) He advocated, in addition the art of swimming for both boys and girls, that such instruction as was embodied in "first aid to the injured" should be given in all schools. He gave a lengthy explanation of the work already done in establishing ambulance classes throughout the country, especially at the great centres of manufacture, adding that the movement had been taken up on the Continent with a zeal, especially in Germany, which almost exceeded that hitherto known in the United Kingdom. This was a movement which appealed specially to working men, and he hoped that many, with the gallant humanity characteristic with the North of England, would come forward and assist in establishing classes. In conclusion, Dr Hutton remarked that by establishing a system which would ensure the injured receiving proper attention and care from the moment of accidents to the time of securing medical aid, or arrival at the hospital, they would forge the last link of the philanthropic institutions of the country. (Loud applause.)

The members of the Life Brigade class then went through number of ambulance movements, illustrating the process of restoring the apparently drowned, bandaging a broken leg, stretcher drill, &c., all of which elicited loud applause. Dr Hutton remarked, at the close, that the association was deeply indebted to the members of the medical profession throughout the country for the trouble taken in giving instruction to classes, and a name which should not be forgotten was that of Dr Crease, who had instructed the Brigadesmen. (Loud applause.)

At the request of the Mayor, Ald. Dale moved the first resolution. Mr Dale, having expressed himself thoroughly convinced of the utility and necessity of the movement, accordingly moved 'That the work of the St. John Ambulance Association, which had been begun by the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, should be extended throughout the town by means of public and private classes, and classes in the various works and factories of the borough; also that a meeting be called at an early date to form a central committee for carrying out the work. Further, that a small preliminary committee, composed of the Mayor, the Rev. Mr Adamson, Mr Farrer, Mr Nason, and Mr Boot, Drs Crease, Munroe, Fox, and Drummond, Aid. Dale, Councillors Oldroyd, and Messrs Malcolm, R. Readhead, A. Allen, Grubb, Briggs, Cowen, Railton, J. Carr, Pollock, and J. Readhead, with power to add their number, be appointed to-night to meet next week and make arrangements."

The Rev. Mr Nason, who thoroughly favoured the movement, seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.

The Rev. Adamson next proposed a vote of thanks to Dr Hutton for his lecture, which was carried by acclamation.

Dr Hutton, having responded, moved a vote of thanks to the Mayor, which having been carried by acclamation and acknowledged, the proceedings concluded.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 April 1883

22 April

Captain Denney died after a brief period in the post of Inspector of Coastguard.

Death of a Coastguard Inspector

Information was received in South Shields yesterday that Captain Denney, the recently appointed Inspector of the Coastguard for the North-East Coast, had died at Greenwich Hospital. Captain Denny, R.N., six months ago succeeded Captain Johnson, R.N., and on his first visit to South Shields, at a presentation of a medal for bravery to one of the Coastguardsmen, he made himself a general favourite. He was a man of few words, but his geniality of disposition and evident interest in the welfare of the men under his inspection makes his loss felt among the members of the Coastguard and Volunteer Life Brigade in South Shields. The deceased was 50 years of age, and came from Harwich. His illness arose from an attack of jaundice, after which dropsy set in. The flags at the Tynemouth and South Shields Coastguard quarters were hoisted half-mast high yesterday, as was also the one the Life Brigade House.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 23 April 1883




5 July

The Annual Meeting took place.


Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 July 1883

23 July

The Brigade receives a visit from a member of the United States Life Saving Service.

South Shields Volunteer life Brigade

INSPECTION on Wednesday, July 25th, at 7 p.m., by Captain Prowse, R.N., and Captain McLellan, Inspector of United States Life Saving Apparatus. Caps, Guernseys, and Belts to be worn. Full muster requested.

S. MALCOLM, Honorary Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 23 July 1883

24 July

Saving Life from Shipwreck
Special Rocket Drill at Tynemouth

Last night, a special rocket drill was given by the members and officers the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, at Tynemouth, on the occasion of the visit Captain Prowse R.N., Inspector of Life-Saving Apparatus for the United Kingdom, and Captain McClellan, Inspector of Life-Saving Apparatus for the United States, to that place. There was exceedingly large muster of the members and officers of the brigades, including the attendance of the honorary surgeons, their philanthropic secretary, Mr John F. Spence, who is always at his post of duty, Mr J. Fox, acting chief coastguardsman. In the presence of a very large concourse of spectators, the entire apparatus was produced on the green, and the drill gone through in a manner that could not fail to have given every satisfaction. The members, in full dress, were assembled at the north part the green, the usual spot from which they conduct their practice, and from the time the word “action " was given to the time the first man was landed from the opposite shore in the breeches buoy, only 121/2 minutes elapsed, remarkably quick time. The rocket was despatched by Mr John Anderson, who effected a capital shot. Not only was the drill expeditiously gone through, but from first to last, there was not the slightest excitement shown, and individually there was an accuracy exhibited which undoubtedly occasioned the completion of the drill so quick and so satisfactory. The ambulance class was also put to work. The first man landed by the breeches buoy was treated as having a broken leg, and it was very gratifying to note the rapidity and exactness with which the members of this noble class had the bondages applied to the individual. A second man was landed as one apparently drowned. In this case also, the manoeuvres of the men gave entire satisfaction. The company then adjourned to the brigade house, where the distinguished visitors expressed themselves highly gratified with the quiet and cool manner the drill was gone through, and remarked that it was one of the best drills they had witnessed during their long experience. The various parts of the building were visited, and the brigadesmen were highly complimented on the excellent order it was in and for its clean and tidy condition. A very large company of gentlemen and members of the brigade, together with Captains Prowse and McClellan, then assembled on board the Tyne General Ferryboat Charles Atwood for the purpose of witnessing, the working of an apparatus for the speedy lowering of a boat from the davits, patented by James Fry Linklater, of Tynemouth. The apparatus was shown to work accurately regardless of the position of the boat, and the company expressed themselves fully satisfied with the patent. This terminated the proceedings of the evening, and the spectators and others then dispersed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 25 July 1883

25 July

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Special Rocket and Ambulance Drill

A very interesting rocket and ambulance drill took place last night, on the Recreation Ground, by the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. The members were somewhat hastily summoned, but when the roll was called 56 men answered to their names. This drill was a special one, and was witnessed by Capt. Prowse, R.N., Inspector of life saving apparatus in England; Capt. McLellan, inspector of life saving apparatus in the United States; Capt. Carter, inspector of the National Society's lifeboats; Ald. J. F. Spence, hon. secretary of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade; Mr G. Lyall, secretary to the Lifeboat Trustees, and others. The officers of the brigade present were Captains Cottew, M. Cay, and G. Mabane ; deputy-captains Thos. Coulson, G. R. Potts, A. Whitelaw, and James Wood; S. Malcolm, hon. secretary; and Dr Crease, hon. surgeon and instructor of the ambulance class. A very large number of persons assembled to witness the drill. The usual signal for commencing drill was given by firing a rocket punctually at seven o'clock, and then the cart containing the apparatus was brought out of the rocket house by the coastguardsmen, in charge of Chief Officer Hart, assisted by the volunteers, and taken to the Recreation Ground. Prior to this Captain McLellan had inspected the lifeboats Tyne and Tom Perry, belonging to the Tyne Lifeboat Trustees, but he landed in time to witness the rocket and ambulance practice. When all was ready for a start Chief Officer Hart gave the word "action." The rocket was fired across the yard on the drilling mast, and a splendid and accurate shot was effected. The ropes were manipulated in almost perfect silence, and seven minutes from the word "action" being given the first man was landed, and the second survivor from the assumed wreck was safely ashore two minutes later. The ambulance party treated one of the men as though his thigh had been fractured, and set the limb with splinters and bandages. They also "restored" one who was apparently drowned. Both of these operations were speedily and dexterously performed, under the supervision of Surgeon Crease, who had just reason to be proud of his pupils. After the drill an adjournment was made to the Brigade Watch House on the South Pier, where several complimentary addresses were delivered,—Capt. Prowse said this was not the first time he had had the pleasure of meeting many, perhaps not all, of them at exercise. He had the satisfaction on one occasion of being present at a wreck at an early hour of a morning in December, two or three years ago. They were very well known to the Board Trade and the Government generally, in fact, be supposed to the whole of the United Kingdom, being always ready, not only to turn out a short notice and on special occasions like that, but also on stormy nights in winter, and there was always sufficient of them to shew great attention to the men rescued from the different ships. On this occasion they were asked for a special drill to shew the working of the apparatus to Capt. McLellan, one of the inspectors of lifesaving apparatus in the United States, who takes not only the rocket apparatus but also the lifeboats on the exposed parts of the coast of the United States and many of the inland lakes. With regard to the drill that evening, he had never seen one better carried out. They had done it with perfect discipline, and everything was carried on very quietly and without any singing out. The orders were carried out by signal, and the rocket firing was certainly, if not the best, one of the best shots he had ever seen. (Applause) He then introduced Capt. McLellan, who was received with applause. He expressed his pleasure and thanks to the brigadesmen for their drill, which he considered very nice Indeed. If ever he had the misfortune to be shipwrecked, he would like it to be in the vicinity of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. (Applause)—Capt. Prowse next introduced Capt. Carter, one of the inspectors between the Tyne and the Shetland Islands of the lifeboats belonging to the National Lifeboat Institution, who expressed his pleasure at having witnessed the practice of the Brigade. —Ald. Spence, in reply to loud calls, also addressed a few words to the brigadesmen, and was greeted with enthusiastic cheering. He said it was a most interesting thing to see men perfecting themselves in the kind of work they had witnessed that evening. The ambulance work he considered equally as useful as the rocket apparatus, men were often brought ashore in an almost lifeless condition, and to be able to restore them was one of the finest things they could possibly learn. Their ambulance drill that evening was most admirable, and he was exceedingly pleased to see it.—Mr S. Malcolm, on behalf of the members of the brigade, thanked the previous speakers for their kind expressions. Capt. Prowse was for three years inspecting commander of Coastguard for that district, and during that time he endeared himself several of the older members the brigade, and the acquaintance which was then formed had continued to the present time. They were glad to have the honour of visit from Capt., McLellan, and pleased that he was satisfied with their drill. They were likewise glad to see Capt. Carter, and the ladies present. The Tyne Lifeboat Trustees had kindly placed their boats at the disposal of Capt. McLellan, and he had had opportunity inspecting thoroughly the lifeboat Tyne, which had been the means of saving 1,020 lives, and, although 52 years old, she seemed from present appearances quite able to save another 1,000 lives, if required. He had also examined the Tom Perry, which was a more modern craft, and with which he was also delighted. (Applause)— Three cheers having been given for the visitors, the brigadesmen were dismissed, the proceedings terminated.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 July 1883



26 September

There is a public dispute over Thomas Gentles application for membership of the Brigade. There is no record of him becoming a member.


(To the Editor of the Shields Daily Gazette)

Sir, —Having on many occasions been asked why I did not become a member of the institution, I made application on the 25th of October, last year, to Mr Malcolm, the hon. secretary, to be enrolled. I did not receive any acknowledgment of this letter, and in course of conversation with some members, was informed my application required to be signed by two of the committee. I obtained the signatures of Messrs Mabane and Whitelaw, and renewed my application on the 8th November. This also was treated with silence.

On the 21st inst. again addressed the hon. secretary and requested to know how my application stood in point of rotation, and when I might expect enrolment.

To-day l am favoured with the following reply :— “Dear Sir,—ln reply to your inquiry I have to state that your application to become a member of the Life Brigade was considered by the Committee, along with several others who were then applying. It was thought advisable to select those who had advantage of being young and active.—Yours faithfully,

S. Malcolm,

It would be instructive to myself and the public generally, no doubt if, Mr Malcolm would select a member of the Brigade who possesses the advantage of being more active than myself. My age is 42, and my activity is generally acknowledged.

Perhaps Mr Malcolm may justify his committee's assertion as to my physical capabilities. —I remain, yours respectfully,

Thomas Gentles,

P.S. —I have replied to Mr Malcolm's letter, and have informed him that the reason he gives for my rejection is ridiculous.

4 Market Place, South Shields,
25th September, 1883.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 September 1883


(To the editor of the Shields Gazette)

Sir, —I think that most people who know the facts will agree that your correspondent, Captain Gentles, has had some reason to complain of the action the committee of the above Brigade in rejecting his proposed membership. The letter of the secretary, Mr Malcolm, besides being decidedly abrupt, cannot fail have injurious effect upon the Brigade itself. If Captain Gentles is unfit to be a member, more than half the present members are unqualified for their work for the same reason, and ought, therefore, be dismissed from the Brigade.

Captain Gentles is at an age when, according to the best authorities, men are at their prime, both mentally and physically. He is a trained and experienced seaman. Familiarity with the rocket apparatus is one of the specialities of seaman, and Captain Gentles holds the certificate of the Board of Trade for competency in that respect. His social status as a master mariner in the eye of the law is that of a gentleman. As a seaman, Captain Gentles will no doubt have his share in that strong feeling of brotherhood which belongs peculiarly to the seafaring profession, and it is for seaman in their direst extremity that the Brigade exists; and those who know the gentleman in question will bear me out in saying that he is quite as well fitted discharge the duties of a Brigadesman as the majority of those who are its members, not excepting Mr Malcolm himself, and he is quite as well fitted as the best of them. By the decision of the committee, the Brigade, therefore, loses the services of a valuable member.

The reason assigned for his rejection on the face of it is so utterly intolerable as raise the presumption that it is only a makeshift, intended to duty for a less tenable reason. Whether that is, that the committee, conscious of their shortcomings, dread being over-shadowed the professional skill of one who knows the ropes, or whether there is some personal bias in the way, can of course only conjecture. One thing is clear, that their decision is one which is radically wrong. It is not a mere personal question, nor is it the first occasion, to the writer's knowledge, upon which an applicant, who was both young and active, and a seaman, has been snubbed, but the effect of Mr Malcolm's letter will be to deter many able and valuable men who will not hazard a snubbing from becoming members of the Brigade, and thus lower the efficiency of a noble institution.

It appears to me the constitution of the Brigade wants reforming in a radical direction, and the election of members placed upon a basis broader and less liable to abuse. The powers of this committee are evidently too large to be trusted to their discretion. Committees have a tendency to degenerate into cliques, and cliques are odious, for obvious reasons. This is not private club, but a public institution, which receives support from the outside public, and the public have, therefore, a voice in the matter. As one of the public I would therefore suggest that the power of electing members should be taken out of the hands of the committee, and vested in the general body of the members. At the same time it is an open question whether the Brigade should not open to all comers who pay their subscription and conform to the rules of the Brigade. There is no valid reason why it should not.—l am, yours truly,


29th September, 1883

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 October 1883



5 November

Thomas Hewett and Humphrey Ashton’s gallantry are mentioned again.

Our Coastguard and Life Salvage

The Board of Trade recently issued pamphlet giving statistics "relating to life salvage on the coasts of the United Kingdom" during the year ended June 30th last, which enumerates the different life saving apparatus stations, with particulars of services rendered by the rocket apparatus, and the number of lives saved. Although the particulars given are after all but a recapitulation of information already known, they serve to remind of good work done; and such records should always be interesting, especially to communities closely intimate with shipping and its perils. It should always be with feelings of pride when we call to mind how the fringe of our seagirt isle is dotted with depots, almost within sight of each other, where there is in readiness the best known means of succour for the imperilled seamen. From point to point along our shores—at harbour mouths, at rocky heads, and sheltered bays—the coastguardsman's weather beaten face and watchful eye is ever turned seawards, and ready to help him we find lifeboats' crews, brigadesmen, or life companies. For the purpose of saving life, all these must be included in the one term "Coastguard," and a noble service they make indeed. It is shown in the pamphlet that in addition to the lifeboats of the national and local institutions, the number of lifesaving apparatus stations, including six cliff ladder depots of the Board of Trade, was increased during the year from 293 to 298, and that 450 lives were saved during the twelve months by the rocket lines, being 190 more than the number saved by the same means in the previous year. As is well known the Board of Trade grant medals and pecuniary rewards for bravery and distinguished conduct in connection with their rocket system. Thirty-four instances are quoted where either medals or money have been granted in this respect during the year. The list gives the names of the recipients, the place, and full particulars of the work done, and many instances of bravery and noble daring are recorded. On this “scroll of fame" we are pleased to find that South Shields has its place. In the list the following two entries occur :—" Thomas Hewitt, Coastguard boatman, South Shields, 7th Dec., 1882, for permitting himself to be hauled off in the breeches buoy, at great personal risk, in order to Instruct and send ashore the crew of the schooner Flid, bronze medal and £2, in addition to the usual allowances" ; and " Humphrey Ashton, commissioned boatman, South Shields Coastguard Station, for bravely going into the surf, having on a cork jacket, at the above wreck in order to clear the breeches buoy which had jambed itself half way along the hawser, £2 in addition to the allowances." The men at the entrance to the Tyne have earned for themselves, amongst those who watch their doings especially, a very high opinion for their untiring devotion to duty in dirty-weather; and it is not beyond the letter of fact to say, that the watchfulness and zeal displayed, on both sides of our great waterway, often exceeds the regulation demand. With regard to the last-named recipient in particular, an opinion exists that, if not on account of the “Flid," it is not his fault that he has not received something more than a pecuniary reward. Near at hand we find recipients of medals and rewards in the persons of W, Bulmer, coastguard boatswain at Hauxley, for rescuing the wife of the captain of the Catherina Regina, who had fallen from the buoy, Dec. 7, 1882, and W. Craven, coastguard, and J. Williamson, assistant, for bravery at the wreck of the Anna Louisa, at Hartlepool, Feb. 7th, 1883 — evidence that the North-East Coast is well to the front, It appears that the total number of lives saved by the rocket apparatus from July, 1856, which time the system was in its infancy and was taken up by the Government, to June, 1882, was no less than 9,557, During the year ending June last the rocket apparatus was taken out on service to 260 wrecks at various parts of the coast. At 200 of the mishaps life was saved by the rocket party, the crews having either refused to leave, or been rescued by the lifeboat or other means, or through vessels having ultimately escaped. At 56 of the wrecks the crews were saved by the apparatus, and at four wrecks the rocket party rescued the men by other means. In many instances the rescue is mentioned of men who were exhausted, and would have been drowned had it not been for timely aid rendered by members of brigades and life companies who did duty as surf men. It should be explained, whilst enumerating the 200 wrecks which were attended by rocket parties, and at which no rescue by the apparatus was effected, that rocket parties, on the stranding of a vessel, have, according to regulations, to fire a line over and get communication with her, whether the crew care for or not.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 November 1883

8 November

The Ambulance Class gives a demonstration at a public lecture given by Dr Crease.

Ambulance Lectures South Shields

Last night, the first of a course of lectures under the auspices of the South Shields Centre of the St. John Ambulance Association was given in the Ocean Road Board School, by Dr J. R. Crease. There were about 100 persons present, comprising members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and representatives of most of the large manufactories of the town,—Dr A. Legat, J.P., presided, and, in opening the proceedings, expressed his pleasure that a centre of the Association had been formed in South Shields, and said the town was already much indebted to Dr Crease for having established that centre, which he believed would result much beneficial work. The lectures would be confined to a syllabus issued from the headquarters in London. He was sorry that, for the time being, the lectures for females had been abandoned, the lecturer having declined to the syllabus. The text from which the lectures were to be followed was that of first aid to the injured. That text was comprised in very few words, but it covered a large area for important and useful work, and opened up a grand field for the performance of one of the noblest duties which men or women could engage; possibly the saving of human life, and almost certainly the mitigation human suffering. But before they could possibly be of much use in cases of that kind it was necessary that they should have some elementary knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human system. That was what was to be taught them, and when they understood the mechanism of the body they would know what to do case of accident, and why they were to do it. The training of volunteers in connection with the Ambulance Association was not altogether new to the town, Dr Crease having been for two three years engaged in teaching members of the Volunteer Life Brigade, and having turned out some very creditable pupils. He (Dr Legat) had seen them at work, and was highly pleased with the satisfactory way in which they set about their duties. (Applause) The teaching was now being commenced on a proper footing, and he was glad to see not only members of the Life Brigade but also pupils from all the important works present. These latter were likely to be of use to those who unfortunately met with accident In the shipyards and other works, The scheme, he was glad to say, had met with the hearty approval of the public, and contributions from almost all the important firms of the town had been received, as well as subscriptions from individuals, so that, he thought, so far as funds were concerned, they were perfectly safe. The contributions of the pupils went to the benefit of the society, and the lecturers rendered their services gratuitously, (Applause.)—Dr Crease then proceeded to deliver his lecture, prefacing his remarks with a short history of the St. John Ambulance Association, whose prime object was to disseminate information as to what to do in case of accident; that was to say, how to attend to injured persons, to relieve pain, and to apply certain remedies for the mitigation of suffering, until surgical assistance could be obtained. The course of lectures was followed by an examination, and the successful candidates received certificates. Since 1867 the number of pupils who had passed successfully was 70,000. Dr Crease next referred to the syllabus, which included instruction in reference to the circulation of the blood, and how to arrest bleeding; respiration, the nervous system, the direction of the principal arteries, fractures, the restoration of the apparently drowned, and the use of triangular bandages, He next described from a diagram the bones, joints, and muscles of the human body, and Imparted valuable information to the audience. —The Rev. Johnson Baily made a few remarks, in which be referred to the practical value of knowledge such as would be imparted by the course of lectures, especially to workmen In shipbuilding yards and other manufactories, and spoke of the lucid manner which Dr Crease had given the introductory lecture. A short ambulance drill was given, in which a man was treated for a supposed fractured thigh. The proper mode of bandaging the injured limb was demonstrated, as well the mode of conveyance, so as to give as little pain possible to the patient. This explanatory drill was gone through by members of the ambulance class in connection with the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and was much appreciated the other portion of the audience.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 November 1883

10 November

Captain Mabane, a prominent member of the Brigade, was appointed as Mayor.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and the New Mayor

The usual monthly rocket drill of the above Brigade took place on Saturday afternoon. After returning with the apparatus to the Watch House, the Secretary (Mr S. Malcolm) said before they separated he thought it was their duty to congratulate Captain Mabane on his appointment as Mayor for the ensuing year, this being his first public appearance in that capacity. This was responded to by three hearty cheers from the members, followed by others for the Mayoress and family.

The Mayor, in responding, said thanked the members most sincerely for their expression of confidence. He hoped so to conduct the duties appertaining to the office of Mayor as to earn the good-will of all classes, and when his term was finished, he could look upon it with pleasure. He hoped that nothing would arise to interfere with his duty a Brigadesman, but should there anything unfortunately occur he would stick to the old ship, and get the affair attended to by deputy. After renewed cheering, the Brigadesmen separated.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 November 1883


27 December

The officers lay on the annual entertainment for the members.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

The annual entertainment given to the members of the above brigade by the Captains of Divisions was held at the Brigade House, South Pier, last night, when a large number of the members and their wives accepted the invitation. Amongst the company assembled were the Mayor (Capt. T. G. Mabane), Captain M. and Mrs Cay, Captain W. and Mrs Cay, Captain S. Cottew and the Misses Cottew, Mr J. Crisp, Dr J. R. Crease and Mrs Crease, Mr W. Ross and Mrs Ross, Mr T. Coulson and Mrs Coulson, Mr and Mrs S. Malcolm, Captain Bentley, Mr G. R. Potts, Mr G. Grey, Mr and Mrs J. H. Morton, Mr J. Stableford, Mr and Mrs John Robinson, Captain Cottew and Mr J. Taylor, of the screw-steamer John Williamson, the heroes of the ill-fated steamer San Augustin. Through the Indefatigable exertions of Chief-officer Hart and Coastguardsman Ashton, assisted by one or two of the members, the ball-room for the nonce presented a most pleasing appearance, having been prettily decorated with flags, mottoes, evergreens, &c , and was much admired. At the south end of the room the large flag of the Brigade was stretched, above which was placed a likeness of Her Majesty, while underneath was a scroll inscribed “God Save the Queen." Several of the large engravings and photographs hung on the walls were also encased with tissue paper borders, showing that Messrs Hart and Ashton were possessed of very adept fingers. The melancholy records of past storms deposited round the room had not escaped attention, and the several figureheads of ill-fated vessels wrecked in the vicinity were freshly painted and otherwise decorated to make them look cheerful for the occasion. Varied-coloured paper chains were also stretched from end to end of the room, and added greatly to the effect. The large chandeliers in the room were very effectively decorated, and when lit up, the work accomplished was seen to very great advantage. The room set apart for the sleeping accommodation of ship wrecked sailors had not been forgotten by the two "Jolly Jacks," while even the look-out tower, used as a temporary retiring room, had also received its quota. From the entrance gates on the pier to the door of the Watch House a large canvas awning was spread, in which were displayed Chinese lanterns and coloured lights. Immediately opposite the door of the ball-room was a scroll with the word, "Welcome." The large stove which usually stands in the centre of the room had been removed, and was placed in the rocket house adjoining, which was, for the time being, converted into a cook's kitchen. This department presented a striking contrast to its near neighbour, not a semblance of decoration was to be seen, even a twig of holly being conspicuous by its absence. Deputy-Captain Coulson was here installed monarch of all he surveyed, and was kept hard at work serving out refreshments to the male guests, while his Man Friday (Mr John Brown) attended to the brewing of "the cup that cheers, &c." The entertainment provided was of a varied character, and consisted of dancing, singing, reciting, &c, The music for the dancing was supplied by Mr S. Hetherington's quadrille band, while the Messrs Burrows, with their musical glasses and band bells, contributed greatly to the evening's enjoyment. Songs were sung by Messrs Stableford, Walton, R, Bell, J. Henderson, and J. Ross, and their efforts to please were duly appreciated. Mr Sullivan, of Sunderland, by his humorous and other recitations, earned the hearty approval of his audience, and was frequently applauded. The large company separated at a late hour, having spent most enjoyable evening. The whole arrangements were carried out by Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary to the Brigade, assisted by the captains, and reflected great credit on that gentleman and his colleagues.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 28 December 1883