Events 1891


2 January

The monthly drills continued throughout the year.


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 3rd of January, 1891, at 3.30 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 January 1891

23 January

The Annual Supper took place.

The supper of the South Shields Life Brigade last night was not only an agreeable occasion in itself, but was also an illustration of the cordial good feeling which exists between the various life-saving organisations on this part of the coast. The Tynemouth Brigade was represented by three of its captains, the Sunderland Brigade by almost all its officers, and the little life-saving company at Marsden by its chief officer, Mr SNOWDON. The celebration seemed indeed, to be connected rather with the Life Brigade service generally than with the affairs of an individual company. It was pleasant to observe that so many of the badges the St. John Ambulance Association were worn. The Life Brigadesmen are evidently determined to be ready at all points for the service of humanity.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 24 January 1891

28 January

A more enjoyable annual gathering at the Watch House on the South Pier there has possibly not been than that which took place on Friday night last. There was a big muster of the men in the life brigade jerseys, and the occasion had an especial feature in the presence of representatives of other similar institutions of the district. The catering was good, and the songs and recitations went off well. Neither the Mayor nor the Town Clerk was present, but thereby, l am told, hangs a tale. They did not receive invitations, which might seem an ungracious thing, but hardly so when it is remembered that at the opening of the Marine Parks the Volunteer Life Brigade, which took a leading part in the procession, was totally ignored at the banquet which followed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 28 January 1891


5 February 1891


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 7th February, 1891, at 4 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 February 1891


5 March


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 7th of March, at 4 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 March 1891

15 March

The Brigade rescued the crew of the Ploughboy.

20 March

SSVLB Ambulance Corps

The results of the Ambulance Class Examinations were published.

St. John Association, South Shields Centre.—List of successful candidates in the recent examinations:—

Dr Crease's First Aid Class.—Volunteer Life Brigade. —10 successful candidates.—William Clymer, Alexander Donkin, Thomas B. Grimes, Thomas N. Newby, Charles Riley, John Robe, Harold Sweetapple. Charles R. Toomer, Frederick W. Wilson, James E. Purvis. Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 January 1891

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 March 1891


1 April

SOUTH SHIELDS VOLUNTEER LIFE BRIGADE. THE NEXT DRILL will take place Saturday Afternoon, the 4th of April, at 6 o'clock.

By order the Committee,

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 April 1891

6 April

The Brigade was on watch during stormy weather.

Storm on the Coast
Stormbound Vessels
Local Steamers Detained
Wreckage at Sea

The bad weather which has been experienced on the North-east Coast for the last few days took a decided turn for the worse yesterday, when the wind blew from the south-east with great force, being accompanied with blinding showers of rain. The sea at the mouth of the Tyne presented a very wild appearance, the water between the South Pier and Trow Rocks being churned into foam, while the waves broke over the Tynemouth Pier with great fury. Incoming vessels had heavy buffeting in making the harbour. A schooner was being towed in yesterday afternoon when the towline parted, and for moment it was thought by the crowds congregated on each side of the river that she would be driven ashore, but being well handled, the little craft rode safely into smooth water. A few steamers came in later on, reports in connection with which are given elsewhere. A great number of vessels, including the trawling fleet, were detained in the harbour. The Volunteer Life Brigades of Tynemouth and South Shields were on duty throughout the day, and the lifeboatmen were in constant readiness in case their services should be required. This morning the wind, which had somewhat abated, had veered a little more to the east, and there was still a heavy sea on the coast, while drizzling rain continued to fall.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 April 1891

29 April


THE NEXT DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 2nd of May, at 6 o'clock.

By Order of the Committee,

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 April 1891


1 May

A note of dissatisfaction is reported.

The Local Life Brigades

It is an open secret that there much dissatisfaction, and indeed, positive discontent, among the members and officers of the local life brigades. We understand that an experienced and energetic officer on the North side has resigned.  He has hitherto been distinguished by his enthusiasm, and the regard which he has inspired among the men. Other resignations are, we believe, not improbable. It will at once be understood that this is a very serious state of affairs. The Tynemouth and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigades are the eldest in the kingdom. The record of their deeds is inscribed on the walls of their watch-houses, by the name boards of the ships whose crews they have rescued. From the time of their foundation until a day comparatively recent no such thing as dissatisfaction of any sort has been known. The work has been done with genuine goodwill, with devoted courage when necessary, with joyous heartiness at all times, and with as little inclination as cause for complaint. It may as well at once be said that the trouble which now exists has been occasioned by that view of his duties which has been taken by the chief officer of the Coastguard. It is not alleged, and certainly we do not allege, that he has at any time gone beyond his rights or his instructions. The Coastguard has a large and almost absolute power over the brigades. It is necessary, perhaps, in view of possible emergencies, that this should be so. There must be a supreme command. The brigades are volunteer organisations, but they have placed themselves under Government control, and are therefore liable to the supervision of Government officials. There are, however, reasonable and, it might be thought, easily assigned limits to the need for official interference. Where the work is being satisfactorily performed, where the officers and men are on good terms with each other, where there is high standard of efficiency, which is most certainly the case with the life brigades of the Tyne, a calm survey of the facts would surely suggest that the interference should not be of a more than merely formal character. The favourite axiom of distinguished statesman, quieta non movere, would, in such case seem, very applicable. The injunction of our old English proverb, to "let well alone," is a satisfactory expression of the same sentiment. The very constitution of the life brigades presupposes that they shall be subject to interference and outside control only in cases of necessity. The members are, as we have said, volunteers; they elect their own officers; they expect to remain under the command of the men whom they have chosen. The Coastguard is technically in charge, of course, and its right to interpose itself where something is obviously going wrong would not be disputed; but the right of the officers of the Life Brigades to retain charge of their men when everything is going right should be disputed just as little. the head of company finds, in the course of drill, that his command is being taken from him, that orders are coming from some other source, and that, in fact, he is himself under orders, he has some right feel aggrieved. He will ask himself what he is there for, whether there is a real need of him, and if the retention of his post under such conditions is not a personal humiliation. The position to which he has been elected involves the idea of exercise of actual authority. The General of an army does not take direct command of his regiments. He does not himself give orders to his troops. There would be no need for colonels and adjutants, and majors and captains, if he did. The soldiers might well remain all of one common level. To at once command an array and each of its items would be much the same thing as to combine, the office of road-surveyor with the work of the stone-breaker. And, as we understand, the discontent which exists in the Life Brigades arises out of being commanded and controlled too much. Is there not somewhere too rigid and, probably, too conscientious an exercise of power? We put the question with no feeling but one in favour of the restoration of former amicable relations. There seems to us to be no good reason why any tension should exist. But it would be a really mischievous thing to sap the independence of the brigades, or to destroy their self-respect by constant, interference.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 May 1891

6 May

The Brigade was inspected.

The inspecting officer of the coastguard stations and volunteer life brigades on the coast paid a visit to the South Shields establishment Saturday last, and was present at the drill of the brigadesmen. He took the opportunity of complimenting the men upon the manner in which they acted in connection with the wreck of the schooner Ploughboy, when the whole of the crew were brought safely ashore while the vessel was being washed with heavy seas. lt was very pleasing tribute, and worthy of putting on record, but both coastguard and brigadesmen did no more than what they would do at any time vessel should come ashore, though it is possible their efforts might not be attended with equally successful results.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 May 1891


3 June

The Brigade fired rockets at the Giralda, but the vessel was out of range and the crew were rescued by tugs.

3 June


THE NEXT DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 6th of June, at 6 clock.

By order of the Committee,

S. MALCOLM. Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 June 1891


2 July


THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 4th of July, 6 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 July 1891

17 July 1891

The Annual Meeting took place.



THE ANNUAL MEETING will be held in the Watch House on Friday first, July 17th, 1891.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 15 July 1891

29 July



THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 1st of August, at 6 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM. Hon. Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 July 1891


6 August

The St John Ambulance Association decided to hold a concert and the Brigade took part in it.


Town Clerk reported the receipt of a letter from Mr C. W. Harrison, hon. sec. of the local committee of the above, stating that the committee had arranged to hold a concert, in lieu of the usual annual meeting, on the 15th September next, when demonstrations of ambulance work would be given by members of the Life Brigade and Borough and River Police, and asking that the concert might be under the patronage the Mayor and Corporation.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 August 1891


3 September



THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 5th of September, at 6 o’clock

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 September 1891

12 September


GRAND CONCERT and AMBULANCE DEMONSTRATION, Royal Assembly Hall, TUESDAY, September 15th. Chair to be taken by REV. CANON BAILY at 7.30 p.m.

ARTISTES:- Miss NANCIE ELLISON. North Shields; Miss KATE TAYLOR, Newcastle; Mr WINSTONE, South Shields; Mr PAGE, South Shields. AMBULANCE DEMONSTRATION by Members of the South Shields River and Borough Police and Volunteer Life Brigade, introducing Bandaging, Stretcher Drill. Restoring the Apparently Drowned, &c. The Band of the Wellesley Training Ship, under the leadership of Mr W. WIGG, Mus. Bac, will render Selections of Music. Members of the Nursing Guild, and Ladies who are to receive Nursing or First Aid Certificates, are requested assemble at 7 p.m. in the Anteroom. Doors open at 7 p.m. No money will be taken until 7.15. Tickets, 6d and 1s each. Members who have to receive Certificates or Medallions, and have not received Complimentary Ticket, are requested to apply to their Class Secretary for same.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 September 1891

14 September

St. John Ambulance Association.—The annual concert and ambulance demonstration will be held in the Royal Assembly Hall, South Shields, to-morrow night. In addition to an excellent programme of vocal and instrumental music, there will be several items of exceptional interest. The Wellesley boys will perform their musical cutlass and dumb-bell exercises, &c. A demonstration of ambulance work will be given by members of the Borough and River Police, and Life Brigade. The Life Brigade will attend in uniform, and will march from the Pier to the hall headed by the Band of the Wellesley Training-Ship. The chair will be occupied by the late Vicar of South Shields, the Rev. Canon Baily.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 September 1891

16 September

Ambulance Work in South Shields

The Royal Assembly Hall, South Shields, was last night crowded, on the occasion of presentations to members of the South Shields Centre of the St. John Ambulance Association. There were special features, in that the members of the Volunteer Life Brigade, under their several captains, were in attendance, and there were also the borough police ambulance men, and the river police. The brigadesmen were accompanied from the South Pier by the band of the Wellesley Training Ship, in the charge of W. Wigg, Mus. Bac., and they marched up the street in their well-known jerseys and caps, the whole length of Ocean Road and King Street, round the Market Place, and back down King Street to the hall. There was a big turn out of the brigadesmen and crowds of spectators lined the street and seemed very much struck with their appearance. A very entertaining programme had been arranged at the Royal Assembly Hall, and the seats had well nigh been taken up by very respectable audience when the life savers arrived. The Wellesley lads were grouped in the lower seats of the orchestra, and those in the high circle above them were occupied by the principal members of the several ambulance classes. Canon Baily, now rector of Ryton, but who had for the last eight years taken a prominent part in the affairs of the town as the vicar of St. Hilda's, presided. He was supported on the platform by Drs Robertson Crease, Legat, J.P., Bootiman, and Macdonald; Ald. Readhead, J.P., Mr F. Thirwall, hon. sec., and Messrs C. W. Harrison and James Page, honorary secretaries of the South Shields centre of the St. John Ambulance Association, Mr R. A. Elliott, Mr J. W. Buckland, Mr F. Oliver, Mrs Hopper, and Miss Robson, &tc.

Canon Baily said he thought the gathering that night must be a very great encouragement to all who had been interested in that ambulance movement in the past, and especially to the medical men who had so freely and so willingly given their work to ambulance training in that town. (Hear, hear.) The work was not a very old one. He thought, if he was informed rightly, that men's thoughts were turned to some such work as that by a very terrible storm in 1876, when a large number of were shipwrecked at the mouth of the river. Dr Crease, amongst others, had his attention turned to the terrible loss of life that resulted, and began at first—he thought in a somewhat irregular way—to take members of the Life Brigade themselves and teach them to feel interest in ambulance work. In the following year he thought it would a very great gain indeed if systematic instruction could be given, and he associated himself and his class with the St. John Ambulance Association in London. That went on till eight years ago. In 1883 Ald. Wardle presided at a public meeting and a centre was formed for ambulance work in South Shields. Since that Saturday in 1883 the work had gone on progressing. At first matters were rather discouraging, but those who had really the matter at heart held on, and in good time the work increased far beyond their original hopes. In 1887 the Newcastle Exhibition the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade staff, entered into a competition for life saving honours and after an active and exciting contest carried off the first prize for ambulance work. (Applause.) Of late years there had been a very great increase in the number of ambulance pupils among the employees of the North- Eastern Railway Company, and he believed all of them were now trained to a knowledge of ambulance work. In the town of South Shields there had arisen out of the ambulance association the Nursing Guild. The first movement in the direction of nursing and attending the sick was taken by the Benevolent Society, and for many years that society did good work in the town. The Nursing Guild, which was formed in 1890, and which was composed of only those who had obtained advanced certificate of the St. John Ambulance Association, which made it perfectly certain that the work would be efficient and skilled, had done good and noble work. He gave several illustrations. While it was quite a proper thing to congratulate themselves upon the past, they should be thankful by God's blessing such work could be done, and he believed this work was eminently blessed by God. They wanted to put in as many influences as possible to help their fellow creatures. He did not know a more pitying sight than to see a group of men stand round a fellow man, the victim of some terrible accident, and simply look at him and not be able to relieve or help him. He could not on the other hand, conceive a happier position than when man who, seeing his fellow the victim of some calamity, could step forward knowing exactly what he has got to do to give some measure of relief, knowing that he may save the man, may be to a wife and family, and to a useful life, if help was not given immediately the life would be thrown away past hope. Canon Baily then proceeded to hand the medallions and certificates to the various secretaries to present to their respective members. Instructed by Dr. Crease there were 18 successful first-aid candidates, 47 nursing, and 16 successful re-examinations for medallions; Dr. Bootiman had 18 successful in the first-aid ladies' class; Dr. Macdonald 18 successful in the nursing class; Dr. Legat 23 in the railway classes; Dr. Pope 29 in the same classes; Dr. F. W. Gibbon 56 in two classes; Dr. Crease 23 in the Volunteer Life Brigade; Drs. Legat, A. Robson, and Bootiman 37 in the male classes; Dr. Sutherland 14 Borough Police and 4 Tyne Police; and Dr. A. Robson 9 in the sailors' class.

The Town Cleric (Mr J.M. Moore), moved that the annual report and balance sheet be received and adopted; that the committee and officers be re-elected, and that the best thanks of the meeting be given to the members of the medical staff, to Mr J. S. Stevenson and to Miss Buckland for their services in connection with the ambulance movement in South Shields. He said Miss Buckland was entitled to the warmest thanks of the association and the meeting. She had got together with considerable ability a ladies' class, and he was prepared to suggest to their consideration that the teaching of ladies in nursing was one of the most important functions with which the St. John Ambulance Association charged itself. (Applause.) Next to Miss Buckland he ought to mention the service which Mr J. Shannan Stevenson had rendered to that Association. (Applause.) Probably without his energetic service at a very early period of the institution of the association it would never have assumed the important proportions which it had done. He had been brought into personal contact with him in that matter, and knew that his heart had been in the work, that he had done it most cordially. He had resigned his position from circumstances whnch had removed him from the town. He deeply regretted that a young man of high education, of very considerable natural abilities, was removed from their midst. They required all men of that stamp to be retained, and he most cordially proposed that vote of thanks to him for his services. The medical staff had rendered their services voluntarily and with singular ability and force. (Applause.) Having touched upon the work of the other officers and committee, and the eminent services Canon Baily had rendered to the town, the resolution was put, and carried by acclamation. Later in the evening Dr. Legat presented on behalf of the Royal Humane Society the certificate of that society in vellumes to Sub-Inspector Daniel Dingwall, of the River Tyne Police, for saving the life of a boy named Robt. Johnson, who fell into the Tyne at South Shields, on the 7th July last. The presentation was made in the most graceful terms, and Mr Dingwall, who walked hand in hand to the stage with the boy Johnson, thanked Supt. Farmer and the Rev Farrar for the trouble they had taken in the matter and Dr. Legat for his kindly remarks. He said he should always have at heart the good motto of their town, "Always Ready," and he would be glad to render such a similar service at any future time should occasion require it. (Applause.)

The programme of entertainment was contributed to by Miss Nancie Ellison, Miss Kate Taylor, Mr Winstone, James Page, and the Wellesley band, which, under the conductorship of W. Wigg, Mus. Bac., gave several fine selections, and a group of the band boys gave a musical drill and dumb-bell exercises, instructor, Band-Sergt. J. Shutt, the performance being received with great applause, was also the sailor's hornpipe by one of the band boys, which had to be encored.

An ambulance demonstration by the Borough and River Police and Volunteer Life Brigade was given and the skill and smartness of the men elicited the warmest commendations, as no better proof of the efficiency of the men was needed than the way in which they got through the work.

They were afterward all entertained to refreshments in the basement by the Life Brigade.

The whole affair was an unequalled success.

Mr C. W. Harrison and Mr Jas. Page are now honorary secretaries in place of Mr Shannon Stevenson  resigned.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 September 1891

30 September


THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday afternoon, the 3rd of October, at 6 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Secretary

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 September 1891



4 November


THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday next, the 7th inst., at 4 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 November 1891


2 December


THE next DRILL will TAKE PLACE on Saturday Afternoon, the 6th December, at 4 o'clock

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Secretary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 December 1891

31 December


THE NEXT DRILL will TAKE PLACE on SATURDAY AFTERNOON, the 2nd of JANUARY. at 3.30 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 31 December 1891