Events 1884


11 January

A meeting of the Ambulance Corps takes place.



SOUTH SHIELDS LIFE BRIGADE AMBULANCE CORP will meet in the Watch House on Friday, the 11th, at 8 30 p.m.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 10 January 1884


2 February

The monthly drill took place.

The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade will hold their usual monthly drill at the South Pier this afternoon. The stormy weather will give enhanced interest to the proceedings.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 February 1884

4 February

The Brigade took part in the first anniversary of the local St John Ambulance movement.


CLASSES will MEET for EXAMINATION on Saturday, Feb. 9th, in Ocean Road Board Schools, as follows:—Volunteer Life Brigade, St, Hilda Institute, and Tyne Dock, at 2 o'Clock in the Afternoon. Ocean Road and Laygate Classes at 7 in the Evening. All who have bandages are requested to bring them clean.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 February 1884

7 February

St John Ambulance Association
South Shields Centre

The movement for the formation of classes to render first aid to the injured, under the auspices of the Order of St. John in Jerusalem, inaugurated about twelve months ago, was most successfully brought to a close for this year on Saturday, when ?0 of the students who have been attending the necessary course of lectures, presented themselves for examination, in the Boys' Board School, Ocean Road, South Shields. The examiner from the Parent Society was Surgeon-Major Hutton, and he was accompanied by Dr Crease, Dr Legat, Dr Drummond, Dr Rathborne, Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade; Mr R. S. Buckland and Mr J. M. Wheatley, hon. secretaries of the South Shields Ambulance Centre. To get through such a large number of candidates, Dr Hutton examined three of the classes in the afternoon, reserving a like number for the evening. The following are the numbers from each class, with the name of the lecturer: Life Brigade, 22, Dr Crease; St. Hilda's, 12, Dr Legat; Laygate, 15, Dr Drummond; Tyne Dock, 11, Dr Rathborne; Ocean Road, ??, Dr Crease. It may be mentioned that of the Life Brigadesmen 14 have undergone their third examination, and if successful they will be entitled to wear the gold medallion of the association. The proceedings at the examination were of most interesting description, and the excellent way in which the students seemed go through the various duties, reflected great credit on the lecturers, who must have been at great pains to get the members of their classes up to such a high state of efficiency. The school-room for the time being reminded one very forcibly of an accident ward in an infirmary—one section of the students having their heads bandaged, a second with supposed injuries to the chest, a third with their arms in slings, while on the floor others were being treated for broken thighs, &c. The second part of the examination was one in which Surgeon- Major Hutton seemed to very particular, viz., the removal the injured. The various methods adopted by the students for the lifting and carrying of an injured person seemed to meet with the entire approbation of the examiner, and were of a most excellent character. The practical part of the examination was brought to a close by the students giving an exhibition of the means to be adopted to restore apparently drowned person, which were executed in a very creditable manner. The candidates were afterwards taken into one of the classrooms by sections of fours, and theoretically examined on various subjects. At the close of the examination the whole of the members of the different classes assembled in the school-room, and were addressed by Dr Hutton and the medical gentlemen mentioned above.

Surgeon-Major Hutton said it was usually his custom to make a few remarks when he came to a centre like that, especially when he found that the work had been entered into with such spirit and such a practical way as it had been that day in South Shields. (Applause.) The saving of life and the alleviation of suffering were the two cardinal points of their ambulance work. It was absolutely necessary for success in this work that they should have uniformity of action, not only in this country, but all over the world. (Hear, hear.) He spoke feelingly the subject, for this reason, that he had heard during the past month that the chairman and directors of the North-Eastern Railway Company had come to the conclusion to have ambulance instruction and ambulance plant placed at all the main stations throughout their system, but he was sorry to hear that doing so they had come to the decision that they would act independently of the St. John Ambulance Association. He could not help thinking that they were doing what was very indiscreet in coming to that decision, because if railway companies, manufacturers, and large employers of labour were to have independent systems of their own it would lead to confusion in many cases. (Hear, hear.) He hoped, therefore, that the North-Eastern Railway Company would alter their decision, and come under the instruction of the St. John Ambulance Association. (Hear, hear.) He had been told that in one of the classes in South Shields the instructor had been examining his own pupils, but he could not approve of that course; he would rather have the work he had been going through to the decision of an outsider. (Hear, hear.) There was another subject brought to his notice. Dr Legat, he believed, had kindly offered a prize for his class, if he (Major Hutton) would undertake to decide who was the best pupil. They discouraged all prizes in the St. John Ambulance Association; they liked to act as a brotherhood, one man being as good as another, and they did not make comparisons between persons. In large manufactories, and wherever men were proved to have done good service, however, he should like to see them get a little monetary reward, the same as men got for manning the lifeboats. (Hear, hear.) That system had, in fact, been adopted by the Watch Committee at Liverpool, and the police were allowed a small monetary reward, after the case had been investigated by the medical officer or the chief constable. He was extremely anxious that this work should be really practical, and that the pupils should keep up their interest in it. For this purpose he suggested that they should have monthly drills amongst themselves. They would, find this a pleasant way of passing an hour in trying to do good for the sake of others. In summer time, for the edification of the public, they might have one or two drills in the open, and would interest every spectator if they could show what good work they could do. Major Hutton then referred to the examinations, and said that after passing the third one the successful students were entitled wear a medallion, and he hoped if it was his pleasure to visit South Shields in future he should see the men assembled there wearing the little emblem of the St. John Ambulance Association. (Applause.) Surgeon Major Hutton paid a high compliment to the ambulance class in connection with the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and also to the value of the Brigade itself as a lifesaving institution, and said it had furnished him with a topic on many a platform in the large towns of the country, when he had pointed out that precisely what that corps did in saving life from shipwreck, the St. John Ambulance Association was seeking to do in saving life on the land. (Applause.) The Borough Police Force and the local volunteers, he understood, were now undergoing a course of instruction, and would be examined thereafter. In conclusion, he said he was anxious that this instruction should be given throughout the kingdom, and that in course of time it would form a national life brigade upon the land. (Hear, hear.) He thanked the students for the very kind way which they had received him, and asked them to accord their thanks to the medical gentlemen who had so generously offered them instruction in first aid work. (Loud applause.)

Dr LEGAT replied on behalf of the medical profession, and said the only regret he had in connection with the meeting was that Surgeon-Major Hutton had not had between 200 and 300 pupils for examination. He hoped that next year the benches might be scarcely able to contain the number of students wishful to be examined. It had been a great pleasure to him, and it must have been so to his colleagues, to give the instruction that was necessary for the examination; but the greatest pleasure  that they could derive was that the students seemed, so far as he gathered from Surgeon-Major Hutton's remarks about the medallions, to have done very well at the examination. (Applause.) He hoped the students would urge others to join the classes, and that South Shields, which could boast of her Life Brigade and her lifeboat services, might soon able to say that she had an ambulance corps second to none in the kingdom. (Loud applause.)

Dr CREASE also replied, and referred especially to the class in connection with the Life Brigade, which has been three years in existence. During the last two years they had had monthly meetings in the Brigade House, and he believed all the classes would be welcomed there until some other place was found for monthly drill. (Applause.)

Dr DRUMMOND and Dr RATHBORNE also returned thanks, and after cheers had been given Surgeon-Major Hutton, the medical gentlemen, and the hon. secretaries, the proceedings terminated.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 11 February 1884

16 February

The Brigade was on stand-by duty.

The Gale on the East Coast
Foundering of Two Steamers

The south-easterly gale which sprung up on north-east and east coast on Thursday has not yet abated. The wind continues from the same quarter and the sea is running very high. The atmosphere is very cold and the sky threatening. Happily, however, the weather has remained dry. Several vessels have put into the through stress of weather, among them the following: - Star of the North, for London; Brage, from Porsgrund, with timber; John M'lntyre s, for London Hawthorn s, for London; Grantully s, for Cardiff.

Between seven and eight o'clock, last night, the Coastguardsmen and members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade assembled in the watch-house on the pier, turned out, it having been reported that a vessel was dangerously near the Herd Sand to the south of the pier, but the crew, seeing their danger, bore away to sea again, and the vessel ultimately succeeded in getting into the harbour.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 February 1884

28 February

The Brigade went to the aid of the Excel, but her crew lest the vessel in their own boat.


1 March

At the Annual Meeting of the Tyne Lifeboat Institution, it was agreed that:

In order to prevent unnecessary exertion and exposure by the members of the Volunteer Life Brigades, from not being aware that the crew of the stranded vessel had been taken off by the lifeboat, it had been arranged that a blue light shall be exhibited from the boat to indicate that every person on board the vessel had been rescued. The Tynemouth Life Brigade will reply by firing a rocket to indicate that their exertions to save the crew have been discontinued.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 March 1884

5 March

A dinner is held to thank Dr Crease for his work with the Ambulance Corps.

Volunteer Life Brigade Ambulance Class.—The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Ambulance Class last night entertained their instructor (Dr J. R. Crease) to a complimentary dinner at the Golden Lion Hotel, King Street. The repast provided by Mr Lauderdale was of the most recherché description, and gave great satisfaction to the assembled guests. Captain Watkins, of Gateshead, presided over the proceedings, while the vice-chair was occupied by Deputy-Captain G. R. Potts. The toast of the evening, "The health of Dr J. R. Crease," was proposed by the Chairman, who gave a brief resume of the formation of the class, and acknowledged the indebtedness of all the members to Dr Crease for the time and trouble had given to impart the necessary information. Dr Crease very suitably responded, stating that it had afforded him great pleasure to undertake the duties of instructor to the class, the members of which he had always found most willing to learn. Other toasts were subsequently proposed, and a most pleasant evening was enjoyed, several of the company enhancing the proceedings by singing songs.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 March 1884




21 June

The monthly drill took place.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigades —The usual monthly drill of this brigade will take place at the South Pier this evening, at six o'clock.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 June 1884


3 July

The Annual Meeting took place.


THE ANNUAL MEETING will be held in the Watch House, on Friday, July 4th, 1884, at 7 30 p.m.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 July 1884


A member of the Brigade assisted in the rescue of a bather.

8 August

Narrow Escape from Drowning. — A widow lady named Porteous, living in Henry Nelson Street, Ocean Road, South Shields, had a very narrow escape from drowning while bathing yesterday forenoon. Mrs Porteous, who is between forty and fifty years of age, was bathing from the beach, about midway between the South Pier and the Trow Rocks, when she got out of her depth, and was being carried into deeper water by the current, which sets from that spot towards the South Pier. Her dangerous position was fortunately seen from the beach, and John Gibson, of Fort Street, South Shields, and J. Henderson, of High Shields (the latter a member of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade), at once proceeded to attempt a rescue. They succeeded in dragging her into shallow water, but by this time she was quite unconscious and apparently dead. Restoratives were applied, and last night she was progressing as well could be expected.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 August 1884

12 August

The Brigade helped in the rescue of two bathers.

Another Bathing Fatality at South Shields
Jarrow Youth Drowned
Narrow Escape of Two Others

About noon to-day, another melancholy bathing accident occurred at the Sands, South Shields, by which a young man lost his life, and two companions narrowly escaped a similar fate. The fatality in this case is all the more deplorable, owing to the fact that the unfortunate man was himself trying to rescue a companion who was in distress when he met his untimely end. The facts of the case are these. Three men, supposed to be platers' helpers, arrived at the beach about noon, and entered the water. Their names are John Moore (18), North Street, Jarrow; George Milne, 3 Stephenson Street, Jarrow; and W. Flinn, 98 Queen's Road, Jarrow. After they had been in the water some time, Flinn was seen by the other two to have either got out of his depth, or seized with cramp, and was in distress. Moore and Milne went to his assistance, and they too got into difficulties. A great commotion occurred amongst those ashore, and a borough policeman (McLean), with others succeeded at great risk, in bringing the men ashore. Moore was to all appearances dead, and his companions were greatly exhausted. They were taken to the Life Brigade House, where Coastguardsman Humphrey Ashton, assisted by Messrs J. B. Johnson, and others, put them under the proper treatment for the apparently drowned, until medical aid arrived. Ashton and his companions continued their work in a most praiseworthy manner, until Dr Crease, closely followed by Drs Gowans and Robson came upon the scene. Moore was dead, having no doubt succumbed in the water. His friends, Flinn and Milne, are gradually recovering. They are still in the Brigade House, where every attention is being bestowed upon them. Messages, we understand, were at once despatched to Jarrow, and no doubt the friends of the men are on their way to Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 August 1884

12 August

Another bather is helped by the Brigade.

Sudden Illness of a Lady Bather

A lady, Miss Foster, who was bathing at the sand this forenoon, on coming from the water was taking suddenly ill, and had to be conveyed to the Brigade House, where she was attended to by the above-named medical gentleman. She, after a while, recovered sufficiently to be sent home in a cab. No doubt she was suffering from excitement and fright owing to the above occurrence.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 August 1884

21 August

Opening of Albert Edward Dock

The Brigade was present at the opening of the Albert Edward Dock by the Prince and Princess of Wales.



4 October

The monthly drill took place.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. —The usual monthly drill of this Brigade takes place at 6 p.m. this evening.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 October 1884


1 November

The monthly drill took place.

Rocket Drill.—The usual monthly rocket drill of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, will take place at the Lawe, at 4 30 p.m. this afternoon.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 November 1884


Mr John Gibson received a Royal Humane Society Certificate for bravery at a ceremony in the Watch House.

5 December

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. —To-morrow afternoon, the members of the above will drill at the Lawe at four o'clock. After drill, the Mayor (Mr T. G. Mabane) will present to Mr John Gibson a certificate from the Royal Humane Society for bravery. The presentation will be made in the Watch House of the Brigade.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 December 1884

6 December

Presentation for Gallantry at South Shields

On Saturday afternoon, a drill of the members of the South Shields Life Brigade was held at the South Pier, about 60 of the corps attending, together with Capts. Mabane, W. Cay, M. Cay, and Cottew, and Deputy-Captains Wood, Potts, Coulson, and Whitelaw. After the drill, the members assembled in the Brigade House, when the presentation of a testimonial on vellum of the Royal Humane Society was presented to Mr John Gibson, who, on the 7th of August last, risked his life to save that of a lady, who while bathing, had got into a dangerous position and was drowning.

The MAYOR, who presided, called upon

Mr S. MALCOLM (secretary to the Life Brigade), to narrate the circumstances under which the Society's testimonial had been earned. In the course of his opening remarks, Mr Malcolm spoke of Mr Mabane's second election to the Mayoralty, and congratulated him and another of their worthy captains—Mr Matthew Cay—upon their pending elevation to the magisterial office. Coming to the immediate business of that meeting, he said he might briefly relate the circumstances under which Mr Jno. Gibson was instrumental saving the life of Miss Porteous. Miss Porteous was accustomed to go frequently down to the beach to bathe. On August the 7th, while bathing, she unfortunately got beyond her depths, and would certainly have been drowned had it not been for the indomitable exertions of John Gibson, assisted by James Henderson, one of the members of the Brigade. Mr Gibson, as soon he saw the dangerous position of the lady, stripped, a rope was attached to his body by Mr Henderson, and he then swam to the rescue. When, he got within 15 yards of Miss Porteous his strength failed, but he made a violent effort, and got hold of the sinking lady. They then sank together, but fortunately Henderson held the rope attached to Gibson's body and drew them to land. Miss Porteous was in an exhausted condition, and was taken to the Brigade House, where she was attended by Dr Crease. Mr Malcolm said that having heard of those circumstances, he thought it his duty to bring the matter before the Royal Humane Society, and received a postcard to the effect that the society had decided to present Mr Gibson with their testimonial in vellum. Subsequently he received a letter transmitting the testimonial, and asking him to arrange for its presentation. Mr Malcolm then read the testimonial.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 December 1884

Presentation for Bravery at South Shields

On Saturday evening, at the South Shields Volunteer Brigade Watch House, the Mayor (Mr T. G. Mabane), on behalf of the Royal Humane Society, presented the certificate of the society on vellum to Mr John Gibson, who on the 7th of August last, at much risk to himself, saved the life of Miss Porteous. There was a very large attendance of members of the brigade and friends, including Captains Mabane, W. Cay, M. Cay. and S. Cottew, Deputy captains Whitelaw, Wood, Coulson, and Potts, Mr S. Malcolm, honorary secretary, Miss Mabane, Miss Porteous and others.

Mr MALCOLM said that on the first drill after 9th Nov. last year he had the pleasure of congratulating one of their members on having become chief magistrate of the borough, and he had pleasure in again congratulating him upon his re-appointment. (Applause) He had not only been appointed to a temporary position on the Bench, but the Lord Chancellor had been pleased to make him a permanent justice of the borough. (Applause.) He must also congratulate another captain of the brigade, Mr Matthew Cay, on having received a similar appointment. (Applause.) They had met together that day for the purpose of presenting a testimonial to Mr John Gibson. He understood that Miss Porteous, who was regular bather, was carried by the tide out of her depth on August the 7th, and would certainly have been drowned had it not been for the efforts of Mr Gibson—(applause)—and Mr Jas. Henderson, a member of the brigade. (Applause.) On the day in question Mr Henderson saw a great crowd of people on the beach and a lady struggling in the water. He waded as far in as he could, but not being a swimmer was unable to reach her. Mr Gibson came upon the scene, and after stripping had a rope tied round him by Henderson, and swam out towards Miss Porteous. When fifteen yards from her he felt his strength failing, but struggled on and eventually got hold of her, both of them sinking together. Henderson, however, had hold of the rope, and they were drawn to shore in a very exhausted condition, Miss Porteous being carried to Brigade where she remained all day under the care of Dr Crease, the honorary surgeon of the brigade. (Applause.) As soon as he (Mr Malcolm) heard of these circumstances he thought it his duty to bring the matter before the Royal Humane Society, and he received a reply stating that the society would be glad to present a testimonial on vellum to Mr Gibson for his humane exertions. (Applause.) Accompanying the testimonial which came at a later date was a letter asking that the testimonial be made in as public a manner as possible, and thus he had asked the Mayor in his official capacity, and also as a captain of the brigade, to make the presentation. He should have been glad if Mr Henderson also had received some recognition of his services. (Applause.)

The MAYOR, who was received with loud applause, after referring to the pleasure he felt in making the presentation, said it was a matter of congratulation that tbc brigade as a body has been the means of saving many sailors from certain death. They came forward as a body for the express purpose of saving life, and they had their reward in bringing the men to the house and making them comfortable. In a case such as the present, it must be a source of pleasure to Mr Gibson that his gallant act had called forth the sympathy of the Royal Humane Society. He was sorry Mr Henderson had not a testimonial, but at all events, he was honoured by the brigade. (Load applause.) Mr Gibson was not a volunteer, but if he applied to the committee they would no doubt be glad to admit him. (Applause.) He wished him long life, health, and prosperity, and if there was ever such another occasion for the display of his gallantry, hoped he would be equally as ready to come forward. (Loud applause.)

Mr GIBSON, amid loud cheering, thanked the Mayor and Mr Malcolm.

Mr HENDERSON, at the request of the Brigade, gave an account of the part he had taken in saving Miss Porteous’s life, after which Mr Malcolm, on behalf of Miss Porteous, returned thanks to these gentlemen.

The proceedings terminated with three cheers for the Mayor.

Source: Shields Daily News 8 December 1884