Duke of Edinburgh Visit

The Duke Of Edinburgh's Visit To Tyneside

A largely-attended special meeting of the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was held on Saturday night, in the Watch House, on the South Pier, to make arrangements for the visit of H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., who is expected to inspect the brigade to-morrow. It was decided that the rocket exercise should be over the stranded schooner Harry Clem, and six brigadesmen volunteered to go on board the ship as a crew. The time for mustering was fixed 11 30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It was stated that a number of borough and river policemen, assisted by brigadesmen who was not required to work the rocket apparatus, would be told off for the duty of keeping back the crowd, and so preventing the movements of the men engaged at the wreck being impeded. Mr S. Malcolm, the hon. secretary of the Brigade, read a telegram which he had received from the Board Trade stating that H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh world arrive on Tyneside Tuesday, the 16th inst., and that he desired to see the working the life-saving apparatus by the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. H.R.H. will accompanied by Capt. Prowse, R.N., Inspector-General of Life-Saving Apparatus, and, as was remarked by several members, an old friend of the South Shields Brigade. A beautifully-illuminated welcome, to be presented to the Duke of Edinburgh on behalf of the members the Brigade, has been prepared, and was exhibited at meeting. It contains an account of the number of wrecks at or near the South Pier, and the number of lives saved by the Brigade each year since the formation of the institution 1866. The address has been illuminated by Mr Andrew Reid, of Newcastle, and is bound in a Morocco case. According to present arrangement the Duke will arrive at the Wellesley Training Ship on Tuesday morning at a quarter to ten o'clock. H.R.H will next visit H.M.S. Castor, and thence proceed to Tynemouth, to inspect the Volunteer Life Brigade, after which he will cross to the South Pier, and inspect the South Shields Brigade.

The case and statement of services to be presented to His Royal Highness will be on exhibition in the window of Mr Yorke, bookseller, King Street, this afternoon and evening.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 15 November 1880

The most important event of this week, of course, has been the Royal visit to South Shields. The townspeople showed their loyalty in becoming manner, and the Duke's reception was not less hearty in this town than any of the other places visited by H.R.H. Had the weather been all favourable there would have been a more imposing display of enthusiasm over an event which was unprecedented the history of South Shields. However, with the single exception of the weather, everything connected with the official visit of the Duke passed off without a hitch. A novel feature among the decorations which hung dripping in the rain, and one not understood except by nautical men, might have been seen by the sailor prince as he was driving along Ocean Road in Sir Hedworth Williamson's carriage. It consisted of seven flags of the Commercial Code of Signals so arranged as to form the word “Welcome." Had the weather been fine, it was proposed to have had sufficient bunting thus displayed to read “Welcome to South Shields." This piece of decoration was the work of Mr F. Mackey.

The members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade in came for the lion's share of the Royal patronage. The visit of the Duke was, in connection with other duties, to inspect the Brigade at drill. There was a capital muster, both of officers and men, and the drill was gone through in a manner that elicited the approval of H.R.H. and the hearty cheers of perhaps the largest crowd that ever assembled on the sands of South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 November 1880

Duke of Edinburgh Visit

On November the 16th 1880 the Duke of Edinburgh as Admiral Commanding Reserves, visited Tyneside and inspected and watched the drills by both Tynemouth and the South Shields Brigades. At South Shields an address was presented to the Duke by Mr Malcolm Hon. Secretary and Treasurer to the Brigade in the following terms:-

To His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, K.C, Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves.

On behalf of the members, we beg respectfully to welcome Your Royal Highness at this, your Official Inspection of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and to ask your gracious acceptance of the following abstract of services rendered at shipwreck by this Brigade since its Formation in January, 1866


Number of

Number of persons saved
by Rocket Apparatus


































In addition to the above, we have attended 26 wrecks and rendered what assistance we could. The crews of some were saved by the lifeboats, others remained on their vessels, and some were unfortunately drowned.

Signed on behalf of the Members –

William Cay

Captain of First Division

Stephen Cottew

Captain of Second Division

Mathew Cay

Captain of Third Division

T. G. Mabane

Captain of fourth Division

S. Malcolm

Hon. Secretary and Treasurer

James R. Crease

Hon. Surgeon

South Shields, 16th of November, 1880.

A party was then placed aboard the Wreck of the schooner “Harry Clem” previously driven ashore on October 28th and full hawser drill performed, the first man being brought ashore in 7½minutes from the firing of the rocket. On conclusion, the Duke of Edinburgh said:-

“I have had very much pleasure in inspecting this Brigade and seeing the work so thoroughly well done. I am very glad to hear the report of the number of lives which have been saved by the exertions of the Brigade, and I hope it may long continue to as successful as it has been hitherto.”

Source: an abstract from an article written by Commander C. A. de W. Kitkat Division Commander for the North East Region during 1950s in the Coastguard magazine of April 1959 volume 11 no1.

Our Sailor Prince and the Coast Life-Saving Service
The Duke of Edinburgh

by his tour round the northern coast to inspect the Coastguard Stations and Life-saving Volunteers, has seasonably called public attention to a hardy and invaluable class of men who are honour to our island kingdom. With that frugality which appears to be part and parcel of his thrifty nature, his Royal Highness has not, that we have heard of, rewarded the heroes of our rock-bound coasts with any monetary gifts. That is more in the line of his eldest brother, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Characteristic of the Heir-Apparent is it in this stormy season to contribute 25 guineas to the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Society, with, in addition, a special donation of £15 in aid of the Shetland Relief Fund, being raised by the Society whose offices are at Hibernia-chambers, London Bridge. While the Prince of Wales has thus given substantial proof of the deep interest he takes in the welfare of our mariners, the Duke of Edinburgh has been diligently reviewing the daring dwellers by the seaside, to whom many a shipwrecked seaman has been indebted for his life.

It as Admiral Superintendent of her Majesty’s Naval Reserves that the Prince has been paying official visits to the northern ports for the purpose of inspecting the Naval Volunteers, Coastguard, and Life Brigade. Our Illustrations, representing the Duke's visit last autumn to South Shields, where he saw the rocket sent out to a wreck, to Tynemouth, where a rocket was fired from the Spanish Battery to the pier opposite, and to Sunderland, where he beheld the dashing style in which the rocket apparatus was drawn out to the pier, will give fair idea of the interest and importance of the present tour of inspection.

Source: Penny Illustrated Paper 3 September 1881