South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Last night, a special meeting of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was held in the Watch House, at the pier—Mr W. Cay, the senior captain, presiding—to make their arrangements for the Royal visit to Tyneside.—Mr S. Malcolm, the hon. secretary, stated that Mr J. C. Stevenson, M.P., had invited the Brigade to be present at the opening of the Coble Dene Dock, and, in addition, he had promised to entertain them to luncheon at his own expense. He had also offered them the use of the steamtug Mariner to convey them from the Mill Dam to the Dock. These offers were received with hearty applause. The Secretary also reported that an invitation had been received from their fellow-Brigadesmen at Tynemouth to take part in a drill at that place, but on account of Stevenson's kind offer it had been respectfully declined.—It was arranged that the Brigadesmen should wear their storm caps, belts, and guernseys—their costume at drill and active service at shipwrecks.—An adjourned meeting will be held on the Tuesday evening previous to complete the arrangements.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 August 1884
The Pier Decorations
The work of decorating the Tyne Piers is being pushed on with all rapidity. At Tynemouth, men are extremely busy pushing ahead with the platforms and barricades at the pier entrance in the haven, and a long line of masts are being put up on the pier masonary. Masts are also being put up on the south pier and along the Recreation Ground. The Watch House of the Life Brigade will be profusely decorated by the coastguard. Placards have been issued the Mayors of the down river towns recommending a general holiday of the inhabitants on the occasion of the Royal visit.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 18 August 1884
The Ambulance Service at Coble Dene Dock
A meeting of the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was held last night in the watch house on the South Pier, the Mayor (Mr T. G. Mabane) presiding. The hon. secretary and treasurer (Mr S. Malcolm) stated that the meeting was called in accordance with a resolution passed at their last meeting, to consider the arrangements for their part in Thursday's proceedings. The arrangements made since the brigade last met were briefly that the Commissioners had placed the tug steamer Cowen at the disposal of the South Shields people for Thursday, to ply between the Mill Dam and Coble Dene Dock. It was thought best that the brigade should meet at the Mill Dam at half-past eleven o'clock, so that they would get into good position before noon. With regard to the tickets for the members' female friends, which were kindly promised by Mr J. C. Stevenson M.P., they had not received sufficient to supply every member of the brigade. There had been such a demand that Mr Stevenson had only been able to supply 40, and they were highly favoured in getting so many. By the kindness of the Mayor, however, those tickets would be supplemented by twelve for the North Pier, which might be held by either ladies or gentlemen. (Applause) This was the best arrangement that could be made. What they proposed to do was to divide the tickets, and let each division ballot for them. (Applause) Arrangements had been made by which the ambulance class would have, under the direction of Dr Crease, assisted by Dr Gowans, entire charge of accidents, which might occur at the dock. The stretchers and appliances would be taken over, and the members of the class detailed to different stations, where arrangements had been made for treatment in case of emergency. It was necessary that the ambulance class should go over earlier than the general members, say at half-past ten o'clock, when the steamer would first commence to ply. In the official programme of the Commissioners it was stated that the ambulance arrangements would be under the care of the Durham Artillery Volunteers, but as they had no class he thought it would be as well to make it public that the South Shields Life Brigade had been entrusted with the work. (Applause)— The four divisions were then told off, and the tickets balloted for. —Afterwards the ambulance class had a private meeting to make their final arrangements.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 August 1884
At the Dock
Two grand stands had been erected at the dock for the accommodation of the friends of the Commissioners, and two jetties were fitted with seats for the use of the workmen and their friends. By twelve o'clock the whole scene became animated. The Cowen, a steamboat whose work it was to convey the ticket holders across the river, arrived time alter time laden with “blue and red-coats” and the invited spectators. Companies of volunteers kept pouring in from Tynemouth. South Shields Life Brigade arrived with their ambulance apparatus. Drafts of policemen marched down the hill side into the hollow in which the dock is situated. The Coble Dene brass band discoursed sweet music. The officials busied themselves with the blue ribbon, which the steamer on entering was intended to cut asunder. Crowds of spectators began to collect on the time-gun ballast hill, on the banks skirting the dock, and on the river's bank. At Iast halt-past one arrived, and all were anxiously looking westward for the Para-e- Amazonas. All was readiness, but it was not till an hour after the stated time that the steamers came in sight. Then, however, the pent-up feeling burst forth. Round after round of applause rose from every part of the Dene. The volunteers, who had been “standing at ease” for the last hour, sprang, at the word of command, to attention. The police and officials took their places. Men fought for better positions and crowds rushed to the river side, some of the most exciting going a step too far and getting a ducking for their pains. And the Dene, the position of the volunteers on the piers, the galloping to and fro of officers in varied, and in some cases, grotesque uniform, the approach of the Royal steamer, which resembles a large gunboat, the rushing of the populace to the heights as if to protect them, all combined, to produce such effect as might be caused by a great battle. The Royal salute with which the company was received emphasised the illusion.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 22 August 1884
On the 21st August, 1884, the Tyne vas visited by their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales for the purpose of opening the Albert Edward Dock. On that occasion the Brigade was honoured with an invitation to be present, and occupied a conspicuous place in front of the Grand Stand. The ambulance class had also charge of the necessary arrangements in case any accident occurred. Fortunately their services were not required. At the close of the proceedings the whole of the members present were entertained at luncheon by the Chairman of the River Tyne Commission (J. C. Stevenson, Esq., M.P.), for whose kindness and liberality we now record our best thanks.
Source: S.S.V.L.B. Annual Report 1885