Events 1901


5 January

The monthly drills took place throughout the year.


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 5th of January, at 3.30 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 January 1901

22 January

The illness and subsequent death of the Queen was the dominated events of the time.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.—Owing to the critical illness of the Queen, the annual supper of the above brigade will not be held to-morrow (Wednesday) evening as arranged.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 22 January 1901

30 January


OWING TO THE FUNERAL of Her Late Majesty, our Beloved Queen, the Usual Monthly Drill is Postponed till Saturday, Feb 9th, at 4 p.m.

S. Malcolm, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 January 1901

31 January


MEMBERS Will Muster in Uniform at the Parade Ground, Central Police Buildings, on Saturday,  Feb. 2nd. 1901, at 1 30 p.m., to Join the PROCESSION to St Hilda s Church, in compliance with the Mayor's Invitation.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 31 January 1901


1 February

Memorial Saturday in South Shields
Complete Arrangements
Public Services

The arrangements in South Shields for the observance of to-morrow's sad event are now complete and will provide for all sections of the community, sharing in the sympathy and respect due to the memory of the late good Queen Victoria. Originally it was intended to hold a great united memorial service in the Parish Church which would combine the clergy and members of all denominations, but owing to the widespread sympathy, it was felt that that would be altogether inadequate to the needs of the occasion, and in its stead memorial services have been arranged on behalf of each separate religious body. The Mayor (Mr J. R. Lawson, jun.,) will attend the service at St. Hilda's Church, and will be accompanied there by the members and officials of the Corporation and various public bodies. The Police Buildings will, as usual, be the trysting spot, and the procession will be formed there at half past one, the service at the church commencing at two o'clock. The members of the 3rd Durham Artillery will muster at their headquarters and proceed to the Police -Buildings where they will head the profession, and perform the Dead March in "Saul." Following the volunteers will be the coastguard, and the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, then the Mayor and Corporation, magistrates, representatives of public bodies, Freemasons, Friendly Societies, and the general public. At the church a special form of service in commemoration of the late Queen will be gone through. Mr Rea will preside at the organ, and perform Chopin's Funeral March as the Mayor's procession enters the church, and at the close of the service he will render the Funeral March by Beethoven.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 February 1901


2 March


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 2nd of March, at 4 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 28 February 1901

29 March

The Brigade was on standby.

The weather conditions were such that it was feared that any vessel making for the harbour last night might be wrecked in the blinding snowstorm, and late in the evening a watch was kept at the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade House, and every preparation made in the event of any casualty, but luckily everything passed without any mishap.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 March 1901


6 April


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 6th of April at 4 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 April 1901



1 June

THE NEXT DRILL will take place on SATURDAY AFTERNOON, the 1st of June, 1901, at 6 ‘clock

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 May 1901


6 July


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on SATURDAY AFTERNOON, the 6th of June, 1901, at 6 ‘clock

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 4 July 1901

29 July

The Annual Meeting took place.

31 July

Mr Hutchinson claimed that Whitburn was the first voluntary brigade.

The First Volunteer Life Brigade
Whitburn’s Claim to Lead

In reference to the claim of Tynemouth to have formed the first Volunteer Life Brigade, in December 1864, Mr W. A, Hutchinson, of Whitburn, informs us that a voluntary association for working a rocket apparatus at shipwrecks was in existence in that village nearly 60 years ago, his father, Cuthbert Hutchinson, jun., being one of the members. In support of this statement, he has forwarded to us an extract, apparently from the Port of Tyne Pilot for January 1842, which records a practice at Whitburn with Mr Carte’s rocket apparatus, for forming communication with shipwrecked vessels. It states that "The practice commenced at two o'clock, with 61b. rockets, three of which were discharged at three masts, placed 200 yards distant, and 60ft. apart. The first line fell close to the centre mast; the second, between that and the one to the leeward: and the third (which had an iron rod substituted by way of experiment for the rocket stick), directly over the centre one. Two 3lb rockets were then fired from the sea service apparatus intended to be used on board ships, both of which also took effect. The 6lb rockets carried the lines from 50 to 60 yards below the masts, and the 3lb, which were fired at 150 yards distance, nearly to taw tame extent." The report goes on to say "It is gratifying to state that any doubts which may have been excited as to the efficacy of this apparatus, from its simplicity and lightness, must be entirely removed by the use made of it in the late shipwreck of the brig Cato on the Whitburn rocks where by the able and judicious management of Mr Mainprize, of the coastguard, Mr Kirton, of Whitburn, and Mr Cuthbert Hutchinson, jun., assisted by the villagers and fishermen, five lines out of six were sent on board the ill-fated vessel, at a distance of upwards of 200 yards, on a dark and stormy night, and under the most disadvantageous circumstances, one only of the party having ever seen a rocket discharged before. The life buoys and belts were also brought before the notice of the company, both of which have (since the late fatal accidents at Whitby and Blyth) been adopted by all the lifeboats (with only two exceptions) between Spurn Point and Whitburn." The date of the extract is approximately fixed by a letter which it states Mr Carte received on his return to Scarborough from the practice, and which was written from Dundee on Jan. 7th, 1842, by Lieut. Smart, certifying that Mr Carte's lifebuoy was the instrument in saving life from the Glen of Ogilvie in Dundee Harbour on Jan. 1st. The article concludes " When we reflect on the extent of the coast between South Shields and Hartlepool totally unprovided with any means of affording assistance to shipwrecked seamen, except the lifeboats and rocket apparatus at Whitburn and Sunderland, we feel certain that an appeal to the nobility and gentry of this country would be the means of furnishing its shores, as well as those of the adjoining ones, where twelve rocket stations have been established, and are supported by voluntary contributions." The evidence seems conclusive that some form of volunteer life brigade was very early in existence at Whitburn.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 31 July 1901


3 August


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 3rd of August at 6 o'clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 August 1901


28 September

The Brigade took part in the Ingham Infirmary Workmen’s Demonstration.

Ingham Infirmary
Workmen’s Demonstration
Address by S. Robson M.P.

Every year the various, trades unions other organisations in the borough hold a demonstration on popular lines for a two-fold object, to bring the claims of the Ingham Infirmary before the general public, and to collect subscriptions on behalf of the funds of that excellent institution. Delightful weather favoured the event on Saturday, and the entire proceedings were marked by the most gratifying success. As heretofore the arrangements had been made and were carried out by a committee of workmen's representatives among whom were the workmen governors of the Infirmary, and the energetic secretary the institution, Mr Jas. R. Wheldon. They were materially assisted in the regulation of the street traffic, by the police, several of whom were mounted. The various societies taking part beat up in the open space near Holy Trinity Church, where a vast crowd of spectators gathered. The procession had many attractive features. Every society was led by its distinguish banner while in addition many of the members carried interesting and novel emblems of their trade, The following was the order of procession:-

SECTION A.- Mounted Police Escort, SOUTH SHIELDS MILITARY BAND, Conductor- J.W. Dennison Jun., South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, Manchester Unity I.O.O.F. Marshals:- J.M. Thompson and S. Williams.

SECTION B.- General Marshal: J. Plater, SOUTH SHIELDS GARIBALDI PRIZE BAND, Conductor – W. Sewell, St. Hilda Lodge of Durham Miners’ Association. Marshals: R. Wilson and J. Batey. Co-operative Smiths’ Society. Marshals:- E. Wilkinson and R. Dunn.

SECTION C. – General Marshals: J.C. Napier and John Bell. DURHAM SALVATION ARMY BAND, Conductor, Robt. Young. Tyne Dock Trimmers and Teemers Marshals: W. Chapter and W. D. Lovely. Harton Lodge of Durham Miners’ Association.

SECTION D.- General Marshals: T. Wandless and J. Felce. SOUTH SHIELDS HARMONIC PRIZE BAND Conductor, J. Greenwood, Jun. Operative Bricklayers’ Society. National Association of Operative Plasterers. Marshals: W. Jones and S. Whineray. Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders’ Society, Nos  1 and 2 and 3 Branches. Marshal No 3 Branch Thos. Strachan.

SECTION E. – General Marshals: M. O’Neil and S. Palin SOUTH SHIELDS TEMPERANCE BAND, Conductor, J. S. Barrow. National Amalgamated Union of Labour. Marshals: Owen Wade and M. Taylor. Associated Shipwrights Society, South Shields (A) Branch. Marshals: James Ellerby and J. Richardson. Northern United Engineers’ Association. Marshals: C’ Bryant and James Jack.

SECTION G. _ General Marshal: J. Toll. WORKHOUSE BOYS BAND. South Shields Boys’ Brigade Marshals: J. Francies and R. Reside.

The procession marched through crowds down Green Street and Cuthbert Street and then proceeded by way of King Street, Ocean Road, Woodbine Street. Saville Street, Fowler Street. Westoe Road to the South Shields Rugby Football enclosure.

A temporary platform was erected at the football ground, and from this the speakers addressed a large gathering of the demonstrators. The Mayor (Ald. Lawson) presided and he was supported by Mr W. S. Robson, K.C., M.P., Mr D.W. Fitzgerald, Mr G. Robson, (chairman of the General Committee), Mr J. R. Wheldon, Mr R. Jobling and others.

The Mayor congratulated them on the success of that day's proceedings. He was glad to have the opportunity of participating in them, because if it had not been given, before his term of office expired, he would have felt that some part of his duties had been left unfulfilled. One of the proud features in connection with the maintenance of the Ingham Infirmary, was the excellent support which came from the working classes themselves. He found from the annual report of the institution, that they had given very tangible evidence of the fact that they realised their responsibilities, because out, of total revenue of £3,000, the working men of the borough had given no less than £1,400. (Applause.)

Mr W. S. Robson. M.P., who had a warm reception, said the object of the organisers of that demonstration, of course, was to provoke public attention, and to arouse a wider and more effective sympathy on behalf of the greatest of our secular charities the Infirmary. He did not think they could do a better thing than have a trades demonstration. They might have reports crammed with impressive statistics, and they might back up their reports by the most eloquent speeches, but people did not read reports, those who most needed to hear speeches did not come to near them. (Laughter.) Far better than either reports or speeches was the spectacle they had witnessed that day of thousands of men grouped in their various trades marching through the town which their industry sustains, every man a suppliant for the sick and suffering amongst his fellows (Applause.) He did not think anyone could be deaf to such appeal as that. If they resisted it, then it was not the hardness of hearing, but the hardness of heart which kept them still unyielding to those appeals. If they wanted to support this great charity as it ought to be supported, they must try to have something more than occasional efforts. They must raise such a permanent income as would enable it fulfil all its purposes. The Mayor had said very truly that "the weak point in the Infirmary finances was the list of annual subscriptions. The working men had done nobly on behalf of the charity. Their subscriptions made the largest item in the income of the Infirmary. But they might reasonably hope for a large increase in the list of annual subscribers-(applause)-and in that direction he would rather address his appeal. But first let him emphasise some of the figures which relate to the Infirmary. Figures were dull things; hey glided very easy off the memory. But figures relating to an hospital, although they might be sad, they could not think them dull. They were too tragic for that. If they went into the Ingham Infirmary they would find an average 30 and 40 stricken men and women dally filling beds at that place. They had got over and above the beds occupied something like 20 more beds, for which there was ample demand, but which were not put to a continuous use because the income of the Infirmary did not justify the governors in opening any more wards than at present. Twenty available beds unoccupied, although there were accidents and diseases enough to fill those beds over and over again That meant there was suffering in the town which might be relieved, but was not, and such a circumstance ought to appeal to the hearts of the hardest of them. He did not believe that people were indifferent to these things. He did not believe that hardness of heart was a very common thing in the world. If they could get the minds of the people fixed on that great charity, on the great humane work it was doing, and ought to do, their sympathy would flow out to it. Therefore, what they wanted to do was to fix the minds of the community upon the needs of the institution. In addition to what was being done in the Infirmary he found from the last report that the out patients and casuals who benefit numbered no fewer than 11,744. Think what a mighty total that was; it represented the population of a decent sized town. The people who were most frequently asked to subscribe to such charities were those whose names figured on subscription lists or were connected with religious organisations and the various departments' of public life. But there were other well-to-do people who shared in the prosperity which flowed from modern society, and whose names did not appear amongst the subscribers. He hoped the sympathy and support of these would be secured. (Applause.)- Mr Geo Robson in moving a vote of thanks to the Mayor and Mr W. S. Robson, intimated that the former had given them a donation of £10. (Applause.)—Mr D. W. Fitzgerald seconded the motion, which was carried with acclamation. Music was performed by some of the bands which took part in the procession and the proceedings concluded.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 September 1901

31 September

New pier by-laws were introduced.

The Tyne Piers
Commissioners’ New By-Laws

Though built for entirely different purpose, which they admirably serve, as everybody knows—misfortunes notwithstanding—there are no finer sea promenades on the coasts of England, or Scotland either, than the North and South Piers at the mouth of the Tyne. As promenades the public, not of the harbour boroughs alone, but of all Tyneside, have enjoyed their free and unhampered use for great many years; indeed, ever since it was possible to use them as such. It is quite natural, then, that the public should view with suspicion and anxiety and even resentment, anything which threatens to rob them of this dearly cherished privilege. And that is how they regard the new pier by-laws which have just been issued by the River Tyne Commission. The question is, are they justified in doing so, and to what extent

What are powers which the bylaws confer There are 25 clauses altogether, the majority of which are just such regulations one would expect to find in any properly framed code of laws for the maintenance of order a public place. But there are two, at least, of very sinister import. These are clauses 6 and 8. Clause 6 enacts that “No person shall be admitted to either of the piers unless and until has he paid to the Commissioners or their officer authorised to collect the same such sum as shall for the time being be advertised upon a placard posted at the entrance of the piers, or any such landing place or landing stage us aforesaid as sum chargeable for admission to the piers." Clause 8 is even less agreeable, reading as does:—" No person shall be remain on either of the piers between 11 o'clock in the evening and sunrise during the months of May, June, July, and August ; or between 5 o'clock in the evening and sunrise during the mouths of November, December, January, and February, or between 8 o'clock in the evening and sunrise during the months of March, April September, and October."

Were the intention of the Commissioners to give rigorous effect to either or both these clauses, when the by-laws come into operation, as they will do shortly, the public would, undoubtedly, have good and sufficient cause for indignation, lt would be a mean, an arbitrary action, to say no worse of it, although the Commissioners would be acting within their rights. On that score, however, careful inquiries show that there is occasion for neither anxiety nor resentment-at least, not at present. What was unofficially stated in Thursday's Gazette as the intention of the promoters of the by-laws, now turns out to have been perfectly true. There will be no fresh restrictions placed upon the free use of either of the piers, and the public-that is the well-behaved and orderly public-will continue to enjoy their privilege, without let or hindrance exactly the same as they've done in the past. In other words, the by-laws, or rather, the two clauses which relate the closing of the piers after certain hours at night, and the imposition of a charge for admission, will not be enforced. Statement is made upon authority.

The reason why the Commissioners' formulated new by-laws, and reason why those by-laws contain the clauses so objectionable to the people of the harbour boroughs, is not far to seek. After the trouble and bother which they had with the South Shields Corporations over the South Pier of which the ratepayers of that town can have anything but a pleasant recollection, the river authority decided it seems, that measures must be taken to safeguard their interests in the future. Those measures have taken the form of the new Pier by-laws, in the possession of which, it must be admitted, the Commissioners have armed themselves with a remarkably efficient weapon, so far as their future dealings with the harbour boroughs are concerned. The noxious clauses may never be enforced, let us earnestly hope they never will, but the fact remains, like the “sword of Damocles," they will always be suspended overhead. In this connection, whilst this consciousness of menace will no doubt be uncomfortable to the Shields' populations, it will be interesting to watch how far the generosity of the Commissioners will extend. Of that generosity a great deal has been heard of late; in the light of our long and untrammelled use of the piers we have owed much to it in the past; let us hope we shall see still more of it in the time come. And here may not be out place to remind the Commissioners, to quote words made use of by Ald. Armstrong of Tynemouth, at a recent meeting, that "to North and South Shields is largely due the credit of having created the Commission.”
As has already been pointed out, apart from clauses 6 and 8, there is nothing in the by-laws to which any reasonable and fair-minded person can take exception. As a matter of fact their operation will be rather a boon than otherwise to respectable people using the promenades. True, “animals” are banned, but it is very questionable whether it is intended that a harsh interpretation should be put upon this clause, to the exclusion of our canine friends. That would, indeed, be a pity. Of course one understands that elephants should be excluded and horses and cows, but the same objection hardly applies to dogs. At any rate, this prohibition, even if persisted to the letter of the law, is more than compensated for by the concession to bath chairs and perambulators, which by the payment of 1d toll will be allowed on the structures between sunrise and sunset. What one is also pleased to find is that rowdies and brawlers have received the particular attention they deserve. Commissioners' officials will have now the power to remove, forcibly or otherwise, all undesirable characters found on the piers, the said undesirable characters rendering themselves liable to penalty not exceeding £5 for any and every infringement of the by-laws. Coastguards, by the way, and members of the Life Brigade in the performance of their duty, as well as any passengers who may land from General Ferry Company's steamers, are exempt by a special clause, from the payment of any charges for admission.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 31 September 1901


12 October

Representatives of the brigade attended the funeral of Andrew Whitelaw who was one of the first captains.

Funeral of Captain Whitelaw

The remains of the late Captain Andrew Whitelaw, of South Shields, were interred in Harton Cemetery on Saturday in the presence of a  large number of representative men of the town and district, including representatives of the Corporation, the shipping interest, the Pilotage Board, the Volunteer Life Brigade, of which deceased was one of the oldest captains.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 October 1901

21 October

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Ambulance Corps

IMPORTANT MEETING, Brigade House, MONDAY EVENING, 21st inst. at 6 p.m.

J.R Crease
Hon. Medical Officer

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 19 October 1901


2 November


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on Saturday Afternoon, the 2nd of November, at Four o’clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 October 1901

12 November

The ”Great Gale” caused the Brigade to have one of its busiest days. The details of individual vessels are given in the “Wrecks” Section of the site. The full article from the Gazette is reproduced below.

13 November 1901

Disastrous Gale
A Wreck-Strewn Coast
Fearful Loss of Life
Six Wrecks at Shields
Heroism of Rescuers

The North-East Coast was visited yesterday by a storm of a remarkable character, both in regard to its force and its long continuance, for at the time of writing. Wednesday forenoon, it seems to scarcely have slackened for an instant during the past twenty-four hours. Rain began to descend at a very early hour yesterday morning and for the whole of the day continued without cessation, being varied now and again by sleet and hailstones.

The wind in the forenoon came away with terrible force from the south-east and in a short while a tremendous sea was running off the Tyne and all along the coast. As a consequence many vessels making for local ports got into difficulties and by nightfall there were two wrecks at Sunderland, one at Whitburn, four at Shields, and others reported north of Tynemouth, besides rumours of other disasters which could not at the time be verified, Splendid rescue work was rendered at all the places named, happily in most cases with gratifying success, but despite all human efforts, there was a sad tale to tell of lives sacrificed to the fury of the elements.

Last night the weather was of the wildest description. The roar of the sea was almost deafening, and the men who turned out to wrest human lives from the angry waves, had a most trying task to perform, but it must be said that they performed it willingly, and carried out their work with a cool courage that elicited the warmest admiration of the many people who crowded, in their anxiety, to the beach on the report of the alarm guns.

From other parts of the country come reports of terrible damage, both on our coasts and inland caused by the storm and in many towns the streets were flooded by what appears to have been almost a deluge. Particulars of the havoc wrought continue to pour in from all directions. In the meanwhile, below will be found accounts of a more detailed character, relating to what transpired in our more immediate district.

Wreck of the Constance Ellen
3 ½ Hours Battling with the Storm

A watch was kept by the Lifebrigadesmen at the South Pier throughout the day, although it was not until nearly six in the evening that their services were requisitioned. Darkness had then fallen upon the scene and the lights of one or two vessels were seen off the harbour, and were closely watched from the tower of the Brigade House. The men began to muster in goodly numbers, and at one part or another of the night the whole of the captains, Messrs J. W. Buckland, J. Page, T. B. Grimes, and G. Ogilvie kept duty.

A little before six o'clock the lights of a small craft were seen making for the beach. It was thought at first she had mistaken the harbour lights but subsequent events shewed that the vessel was helplessly driven before the storm. It was soon inevitable that she was a doomed ship, and she came straight in through the surf, and stranded almost opposite the lifeboat house on the south side of the pier. The point she struck was almost precisely where the ill-fated Olaf Kyrre was wrecked in 1882.

The distress signals were fired, and immediately the heavy artillery of the Andromache resounded through the harbour boroughs, telling the tale of shipwreck. It was at an hour when it seemed everybody was at liberty to leave their homes for in an incredibly short time the main thoroughfare leading to the pier was thronged with people, harrying and jostling their way to the scene of the disaster. It required a doughty heart and a tough skin to face the fill blast of the storm. Occasionally, the blinding showers of rain and sand completely baffled the efforts of the pedestrian who had to pull up at the rails or seek some temporary shelter till the squall had spent itself. It was therefore a herculean task which the Coastguard and the Life Brigade had to face.

The cart containing the apparatus was taken down to the beach where in a very short time the rescuers were largely reinforced by other members of the Brigade. Thousands of people congregated and watched the operations with thrilling interest. The stranded vessel was plainly seen in the boiling surf which sometimes washed right over her, but her position, owing to her being on a sandy bottom and with a receding tide, did not give cause for immediate alarm. Occasionally the men on hoard burnt a flare light, which enabled the spectators to easily discern the sails of the vessel torn in shreds. Ten minutes went by before the first rocket was fired, and although it made steady in the direction of the ship, the hurricane wind carried the line out of reach. Then followed long and tedious waits between the second, third, and fourth shots being fired, all of which fell short or went wide of the mark.

The operations of the brigadesmen were hampered and delayed by an alarm that was raised pretty universally to the effect that another vessel had gone ashore near the Trow Rocks. Considerable colour was given to the rumour by occasional flashes of light in that direction, which were naturally construed to be the distress signals of a vessel. Accordingly the rescuing forces were divided, and one body was told off with the cart, containing a full set of gear. They proceeded along the beach, and scanned the coast line in vain for any sight of the reported wreck. Some wreckage cast up near the Trow Rocks, which led to the belief in the minds of many that a vessel had gone down with all hands, but they could only wait for the morning for further evidence of the calamity, if such it was. This fruitless expedition occupied nearly an hour, and on their returning a second alarm reached them of a wreck on the Herd Sands.

This unfortunately proved to be only too true, and a number of men were despatched to the scene of the fresh disaster. Meanwhile the brigadesmen stood to their post of duty, facing the full fury of the wind and rain, and occasionally standing up to their waists in the breakers on the shore. The fourth rocket had gone the way of the others, but Chief Coastguardsman Williams succeeded in establishing communication with the fifth, which passed right over the ship One of the crew climbed to the topsail yard for the line, but there was either some hitch in the arrangements or the crew did not understand how to manipulate the apparatus, for another long delay ensued. The rescuers on shore seemed, under the circumstances, helpless to save the men. Nearly three hours had now gone by since the stranding, and the tide had considerably receded, leaving the vessel almost within hailing distance. A man named Dick Wilson, a well-known local athlete, waded into the surf and pluckily attempted to swim with a line to the vessel, but no human being could live in such a sea, and he had to return fatigued and overcome with his exertions. He was taken to the Brigade House, where be evidently relished a hot cup of coffee which was served out to him.

The brigadesmen ran imminent risks too, in their endeavours to get as near as possible to the vessel. Occasionally they were buried overhead in the surf, but never for a moment relinquished their efforts. At last a stout line was made fast to the ship, and held taut. For some reason, probably the men's lack of knowledge, the breeches buoy was never used, and one after another the hands came ashore suspended in a bowling knot on the hawser. They were dragged through the boiling seas and reached terra firma in a more or less benumbed and comatose state. But there were plenty of willing and strong arms to receive them, and each man as he came ashore was assisted to the Brigade House where dry clothing was provided, and where he came under the kindly attention of Dr Crease the hon. surgeon of the Brigade, and Nurse O'Neill, of the South Shields Nursing Division of the St. John Ambulance Association.

The stranded vessel proved to be the barquentine Constance Ellen from Littlehampton to Bo'ness in Scotland, with iron rails. She was in charge of Captain Robinson and left Littlehampton on Friday last. The vessel fell in with bad weather yesterday, and made for the Tyne. The fore topsail, staysail, and jib were blown away, and other damage sustained from the stress of weather.

Fishing Vessel Ashore on the Herd Sands

Within ten minutes of the stranding of the first vessel, something like consternation spread among the thousands of spectators who had gathered on the pier and the beach at the sight of a small craft rapidly driving ashore on the Herd Sands. She eventually came to grief about 200 yards from the Groyne lighthouse, and as sea after sea broke upon her she was lifted a long way through the surf upon the beach. She came in for a terrible buffetting, and it was feared she would go to pieces before succour could be rendered to those on board. A messenger was dispatched to the Brigade House, but as has been already shewn, the brigadesmen were at that time giving their attention to a wreck on the opposite side of the pier. Timely aid, however, came from a number of pilots and civilians, who were among the first to see the casualty. It was impossible to reach the vessel, but the crew on board hit upon the happy expedient of dropping a lifebuoy with a line attached, overboard. The buoy was washed towards the shore, and several of the men waded into the surf and dragged the line out. In this way communication was successfully established and the crew of the vessel, eight in number, including the owner, came along the rope, held taut from the shore, and were picked out of the surf and taken to the Life Brigade House.

They were the first of the shipwrecked men to reach the Brigade House. Their vessel, it appears, is the Golden Lily, a fishing smack belonging to Inverness where she is owned by Mr Alex. Bakie. She was bound from Yarmouth to Hopeman, which is in the Moray Firth.

The crew of the Golden Lily, seen in the Brigade House by a representative of the Gazette gave a most exciting narrative of storm. Shortly after leaving Yarmouth they encountered a stiff breeze, which increased to such force yesterday, according to the story of the crew, that it was quite a miracle they were not washed overboard. During the whole of yesterday their vessel drilled just at the mercy of the fury of the storm. The crew attempted to bear up for Hartlepool during the forenoon, but this had to be abandoned. In consequence of the thick showers of sleet prevailing, it was impossible to steer the vessel on a straight course. Just about dusk Souter light was seen and it was then decided to make for Shields.

A Barque Wrecked on the Groyne
Sorrowful Incidents and Sights
Gallant Work by Pilots

One of the saddest calamities of the night happened about seven o'clock. A little before that time the lights of a barque were seen from the Lawe top between the piers. The vessel was apparently unmanageable, and had got too far to the south, and a number of pilots who saw the impending fate of the vessel rushed down to the beach in the teeth of a perfect tornado of wind and driving rain and sand. The vessel came straight for the Groyne, and dashed with terrific force, stem on, against the superstructure. Her stern swung round, and the vessel heeled over on her side, over which the seas swept with relentless fury. The men took to the rigging for safety, but in such turbulent waters it was apparent that the masts could not long bold out. In the reflected light of the lighthouse the men could be easily seen on the yards, and in response to the cries from those on the Groyne they came one after another, towards the jibboom which was lying almost at arm's length from the end of the pier. As each sea surged up the poor fellows were completely buried in it and the spray flung itself with terrible force on the pier and in the faces of the comparatively few onlookers of the grim spectacle. The men on shore were powerless to render aid, and they shouted to the shipwrecked sailors to jump into the surf towards them. They crouched along the jibboom, but for some time they hesitated to take the jump, which was their only alternative to being eventually swept overboard. One of the youngest of the crew fell off the jibboom, either from exposure or the force of the wind. Providentially he was able to immediately grasp a piece of floating spar, and in another moment he was borne by a breaker close to the spot where the rescuers were standing. He was pulled ashore in a helpless state, and borne on the shoulders of half a dozen sturdy young pilots to the pilots' look-out house. Mr John Purvis had in the meantime provided hot coffee and stimulants, and under these, and the kindest of treatment, the youth soon recovered. Dry clothes were obtained from pilots' houses in the vicinity.

The scenes at the end of the pier were of an agonising description. The poor fellows clinging to the jibboom shrieked in abject terror, while all their rescuers could do was to shout to them to jump for their lives. Nearly twenty minutes went by before the first man dropped from the jibboom of the vessel, and as the surf swept him along he was grasped by those waiting to render succour. Then a second followed and was rescued in the same way. One was assisted to the Life Brigade House and the youngest was carried to the pilots watch house. The fourth man while making for the jibboom fell into the trough of the sea. A huge breaker curled round him and he was for a moment lost sight of. But he reappeared on the surface again with the receding wave, and a second sea washed him helplessly against the pier side where he was snatched from certain death by the rescuing party. He was carried shoulder high to the pilots' house, apparently more dead than alive, and nearly an hour elapsed before he came to consciousness. He was wrapped in warm clothing and carried to where his shipwrecked mates were sitting. As the whole circumstances and surroundings dawned upon him he broke into fervent prayer, his voice chattering with the cold, but for several minutes he shouted in loud tones, in his mother tongue, his earnest exhortation for the safety of the remainder of his shipmates. It was therefore a welcome relief to him, as it was to everyone, when a messenger arrived a few minutes later; with the news that the last of the crew had been rescued. The last four men, owing to the vessel shifting its position, were almost able to jump from the ship to the pier. The vessel proved to be the Norwegian barque Christiani, which was from Kragero, to which port she belongs, bound to the North Shields Fish Quay with ice.

Interview with the Captain
An Exciting Voyage

Captain Steirnsen, in an interview with a Gazette representative said the Christiani, a vessel of 375 tons, was owned by Mr H, Larsen. Kragero, which port she left ten days ago. The voyage had been a protracted one, the vessel having experienced very heavy weather and contrary winds during the whole of that period. Early yesterday the barque fell in with such terrific weather that very little canvas could be carried. The seas soon began to break over her with such fury that everything had to be secured. From early morning till dusk the storm raged, but when darkness set in the position became most perilous. Owing to the blinding showers of sleet and rain it was almost impossible to see even a few yards ahead. The wind battled about from south to south-east making it difficult for the crew to keep the vessel on an even course. Capt. Steirnsen was grateful indeed that for a moment he was enabled in the lull of the showers of sleet to suddenly catch a glimpse of Souter Point. Light, which, when first seen, was bearing west half south. Captain Steirnsen having happily a knowledge of the coast, at once realised his extreme danger. His first endeavour on seeing the light was to beat out to sea, but the force of the storm was such that this was found entirely out of the question. The only course open was to make for Shields. Within an hour and a half from the time Souter Point light was seen the vessel stranded. Captain Steirnsen attributes the disaster to the barque refusing to answer her helm, which was accountable for by the cross sea running. The Christiani was laden with ice for North Shields. She was a regular trader to the Tyne.

Wreck of a Ketch on the Beach
All Hands Saved

About nine o'clock renewed excitement was caused by the alarm signals being again fired. It was soon ascertained that the ketch Lord Dufferin, in making for the harbour, had run ashore not far from where the Constance Ellen had grounded, and her crew of five hands clamoured over the last named vessel and, dropping by means of lines to the sand, waded through the surf to the shore. The ketch was bound from Sandwich, Kent, to Seaham, light, under the command of Captain Coates. Owing to the very heavy weather it was impossible to enter Seaham and it was decided to keep off the land. On getting as far north as the Tyne an attempt was made to get into the harbour, but she could not be got far enough to windward. Her sails were blown to ribbons and she drove ashore. The brigadesmen went down to her, but their services were fortunately not required as the men had all got safely ashore.

Disaster between the Tyne Piers

About 7 30 this morning what appears to have been a terrible disaster occurred between the Tyne Piers. A barque, supposed to be of foreign nationality, was seen to founder, but owing to the darkness nothing could be learned, but there is too much to fear the whole of the crew perished.

Disaster off the Tyne

Brigantine Founders with all Hands

About half past six this morning the lookout from the Watch House at the South Pier sighted the approach of a brigantine which laboured heavily under short sail. Sometimes she disappeared from view altogether in the trough of the sea, and in the waves which broke over her. Her approach was watched with anxiety, which was only too well founded, for when within a quarter of a mile of the south pier end she was dismasted, and in another moment she turned turtle and sank. Up to the time of writing none of her wreckage had cast up. She would probably carry eight or nine hands.

The Scene To-Day

This forenoon the scene on the beach at South Shields was a remarkable one.

The barque Christini, which went ashore near the Groyne, was found to have been carried up to high water mark and was in a shattered condition, and much of her wreckage was lying about.

The fishing smack Golden Lily, on the Herd Sand, had also been carried well up on to the beach, and was a total wreck.

The Constance Lily to the south of the pier, had been borne a considerable distance and quite clear of high water mark, close indeed to the Commissioners railway.

The Lord Dufferin, which was the last to come ashore, was a complete wreck.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 13 November 1901

13 November

The Great Gale

South Shields

The outlook at South ShieIds this morning was in marked contrast to that of 24 hours ago, being bright, and cheerful and clear. A steady cold wind was blowing from the north-east, and with the glass rising slowly, there seems every ground for supposing that the storm is practically over. Huge rollers are still coming in between the piers, but they are the remnants of the storm, and may only for another tide interfere with the ordinary run of navigation. This morning the Norwegian mail boat went to sea, her course over the bar, where she had to encounter several heavy cross seas, being watched by a large number of people. It is expected that during this afternoon’s tide the regular traffic of the harbour will be resumed. Evidence abounds on every hand of the terrible violence of the tempest during Tuesday night. The large iron gates near the end of the pier have been twisted and broken in a way that is almost inconceivable, the lighthouse window has been shattered, and serious destruction wrought to the internal parts, while even as far inwards as the Tyne General Ferry Co.’s cabin the seething waters have carried disaster, the said cabin and its contents being practically ruined.

The storm has cast up large quantities of coal alongside the pier, and the rocks and beach are literally swarming with men, women and children with bag, basket and barrow, gathering it. Large crowds are also visiting the beach to see the grim devastating work of tube recent storm. At low water this forenoon the remains of five wrecks were lying high and dry on the beach. The Norwegian barquentine near the Groyne appears to have suffered the most damage. She is a total wreck. The fishing smack Golden Lily has fared almost as disastrously. At the south side of the Pier the Constance Ellen which was the first vessel ashore, is deeply embedded in the sand. She is evidently a tight little craft, for in spite of the terrible buffetting she has received she remains almost intact. Her bulwarks have been torn away and her sails are lying in tatters, but her masts and hull have successfully weathered the gale. She is an object of rare interest to visitors. The Lord Dufferin, a splendid little ship of light draught has performed quite an unprecedented feat. She lies snugly under the railway embankment close to the sea road, and it will ever be a mystery how she got there. A smaller craft said to be the Russian ketch Jurhneek of Riga, whose name board was found upon the beach is still lying keel up at high watermark. She would carry about six hands, all of whom have been drowned. When or where she foundered is not positively known, but she is probably the little vessel that was swallowed up close to the North pier. The brigantine which foundered on the South pier is lying a gruesome heap of wreckage at Trow Rocks. Up till noon to-day, no bodies had cast up.

The Shipwrecked Men

Through the instrumentality of Mr John Rudd, acting as the agent of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, the survivors of the wrecked vessels at South Shields have been hospitably provided for and sent to their homes. In all 29 men have been dealt with.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 November 1901

20 November

The Brigade attended the burial of two unidentified men.

Two Unknown Men Buried at South Shields

The interment of the two unidentified bodies cast up by the sea at South Shields, took place yesterday. There was large crowd of townspeople assembled at the Mortuary to witness the removal of the bodies, despite the heavy downpour of rain. The bodies were encased in crape covered coffins, which bore the following inscriptions:—"Found drowned on Shields Beach. Unidentified. Interred Nov. 20th, 1901."— The hearses were preceded by the members of the local Volunteer Life Brigade, under Captains W. Buckland G. Ogilvie, and the Tynemouth Life Brigade, under R. J. D. Brown. As the procession wended its way along Ocean Road and Fowler Street, large crowds turned out to witness it, expressions of sympathy being heard on all sides. At the graveside, the ceremony was performed by the Rev. S. Hewitt Fullerton, Seamen's Mission, and the Rev. H. R. Wansey. During the course of a short address, Mr Fullerton tendered thanks to the public of South Shields on behalf of any friends which the unknown men may have had.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 November 1901


4 December
The Nordfarer came ashore and the Brigade attended the wreck, but their services were not required.

7 December


THE NEXT DRILL will take place on SATURDAY AFTERNOON, the 7th of December at 3.30 o’clock.

S. MALCOLM, Hon. Sec.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 December 1901

14 December 1901

The Brigade rescued the crew and the Master’s wife of the John Roberts.