Five People Drowned

Five Persons Drowned At South Shields


A melancholy incident in connection with the storm was the drowning of five persons who went down to the South Pier upon the firing of the alarm guns when the Harry Clem stranded, at eight o'clock last night. The crowd was composed of several thousands of persons, many of whom were overtaken by the rising tide, and afterwards the dead bodies of four females and a little boy were found in the gut behind the Life House. Several others had very narrow escapes, and were dragged out of the water in a more or less exhausted condition. Women's wearing apparel was found in great quantities, and the goods are now at the Old Workhouse, and at the Brigade House. The following is list of those
Margaret Christie, 16 years of age, living in Johnson's Hill, West Holborn, South Shields.
Rosanna Campbell, 11 years of age, Wapping Street, South Shields.
Annie Dixon, 22 years of age, Commercial Road, South Shields.
Annie Tully, 16 years of age, No. 5 Ocean Road, South Shields.
Andrew Jordon, 11 years of age, Johnsons Hill, South Shields.

Four of the bodies were found between nine and ten o'clock, and the fifth about midnight. They were taken to the Brigade House, where Dr Crease, the honorary surgeon, and Mr Carmichael, his assistant, were in attendance. In each case life was found to be extinct, and the bodies were at once conveyed to the Old Workhouse, where they were afterwards identified. The bodies remain at the Workhouse, in the old casual ward, awaiting the holding of the Coroner's inquest. A girl is reported missing from Tyne Dock, and this morning the gut is being dragged with a view to whether or not she has also been drowned there.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 October 1880

Funerals Of Drowned Persons

The mortal remains of three of the victims of Thursday night's catastrophe were interred yesterday afternoon in Westoe Cemetery, South Shields, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. The names of the deceased were Annie Morrow Tully, Ocean Road; Margaret Ann Christie, and Adam Jordan both of Johnson's Hill, West Holborn. The first named was interred upon the consecrated side, and the two latter upon the unconsecrated side of the burial ground.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 November 1880

The Drowning Of Five Persons Near The South Pier
Inquest On The Bodies

On  Saturday, Coroner Graham held an inquest at the Marine Hotel (Mr Armstrong's) Ocean Road, South Shields, the bodies Margaret Christie, Campbell, Annie Dixon, Annie Tully, and Adam Jordan, who were drowned a gut near the South Shields Life Brigade House, on Thursday night.

Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, and T. G. Mabane, one of the captains, were present during the inquiry.

Mr Thomas Brown, of Pier Terrace, Ocean Road, was appointed foreman of the jury.

The Coroner said it would more convenient to postpone for short time to visit the bodies. In the meantime some evidence could be taken. Continuing the Coroner said there were two separate cases in this inquest. The first was in reference to the drowning of five young persons who were spectators, and the other was that of William Wellard, captain of the schooner Harry Clem, who was drowned by shipwreck. They had better hear the evidence separately.

James Campbell deposed: I am a shoemaker, and have business at 25 Wapping Street. I identify one of the bodies at the Dead House as that of my daughter Rose, who was 11 years old last February. I was not present the time my daughter was drowned.

Welsh Dixon said: I am a butcher, carrying on business at 34 Commercial South Shields. I have been at the Dead House and identify one the bodies as that of my sister. Ann Dixon. She was 21 years of age and unmarried. She was a milliner. I was not present when she was drowned.

John Tully deposed: I am a van-man and I live at No. 5 Ocean Road. My daughter's name was Annie Morrow Tully, and she was 15 years of age last birthday. I was- not present when she was drowned.

James Christie said: I am a waterman, and live at Johnson's Hill, West Holborn. My daughter's name was Margaret Ann Christie. She was 16 years of age last September. I identified her body at the Workhouse. I was not present when she was drowned.

Maria Ballantine said: I the wife of Alexander Ballantine, seaman, and live at Johnson's Hill. I identify the body of the boy at the Workhouse as that of Adam Jordan, who was 14 years old last month. His father was a seaman, and died only three weeks ago.

Mr W. Robinson said this disaster re-called to his mind an inquest upon the body of man who was washed off the Pier and drowned some years ago, and suggested that some fencing should be placed to prevent people getting upon the Pier when the alarm guns are fired.

A long conversation ensued, during which the Coroner said there was doubt the efforts of the Life Brigade to save life such occasions these were very much impeded by the people crowding down.

A juryman: More especially the women.

A suggestion was made that a body of police constables should be sent down to prevent people getting upon the pier.

Mr Malcolm: It would require a regiment of soldiers to keep the crowd back. The Coroner said that certain approaches to the pier could be held by a few policemen, and if people insisted upon going to the sands they would have to go round about to reach the beach. He hoped this disaster would prove a warning to others, because it appeared that those people lost their lives quite unnecessarily. A juryman said it was a sort of panic that overtook the crowd.

Robert Stephenson deposed: I am plater, and live at Dale Street, South Shield. I was on the sands to the south of the South Pier Thursday night, about quarter to nine o'clock. The tide rose round the bank sand, and the people rushed for the shore through the water. Everybody was struggling for life. The water was between the sand and the shore. When I was coming through the water I was helping two young girls across. When I got opposite the waggon way I said to my mate, “We will have a walk along, there will a lot of people gone." After walking a short way we came to the body of Annie Morron Tully, lying in pool of water four yards from the sand end. I pulled her out, but she was dead. She was lying in about 2 1/2ft. of water. The depth of water we had to get through at the worst was about 4 ½ ft.

Joseph Arthurfold, labourer, deposed: I was on the sand banks on Thursday night near the gut where the loss of life occurred. I ran to assist persons the water, and pulled out Ann Dixon, who was lying in the water. With help I took her to the Life Brigade House, where Dr Crease said she was dead.

Michael Thompson said: I am a rigger, and live in Thames Street. I was the sand which became surrounded by water, as described by the witness Stephenson. I got across the gut safely, assisting two girls the same time. I then the boy Adam Jordan and the girl, said to be Rose Campbell, lying in the water with their faces downward. I brought them both out together, and took one half way to the Brigade House, and then went back for the other.

At this stage of the proceedings was decided to adjourn until Monday, at 1 30 p.m.

The Coroner said he thought before separating some notice should be taken of the gallant conduct of the last witness, and Stephenson and others, who did all they could to try and save life. It was very creditable indeed, and he was sorry he could not reward them. He could only allow them their expenses.

The proceedings then terminated.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 1 November 1880

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

We print letter to-day from the Secretory of the South Shields Volunteer Life every word of which we endorse. The public we are certain, need only to be reminded of their duty towards the gallant body organised for the rescue of life on our shore. It is perfectly natural that in the excitement of such a storm as that of last week spectators should lose their heads, and unthinkingly interfere with the work the Brigade. Now that the inconvenience has been pointed out, we trust the crowd will take upon themselves the privilege of protecting the Brigade in the discharge their duty when the misfortunes of storm-tossed mariners next call them to the beach. But, as Mr Malcolm very truly says," no amount of writing will prevent the risk of crowding when a wreck is on shore. Although the curious are put upon their honour, something more is needed to give honour force. This was foreseen in the first Brigade established, and, as was pointed out in our history of the rise of the Life Brigades, yesterday, a rule was adopted which provides for the appointment of a number of men to protect those engaged with the rocket. The South Shields men will have to face the question in this practical form, and we have no doubt that the increased protection which it will afford, and the increased consideration from people generally which Malcolm's appeal is certain to produce, will prevent any room for complaint in the future. The South Shields Brigade has a record of rescues behind it which places in the foremost of rank such institutions—a rank which it is certain to maintain for so long there are stormy seas there will be brave men amongst us ‘always ready ' to face them when there is need.

The South Shields Life Brigade And The Public

To the Editor the Shields Daily Gazette

Sir, —Now that the excitement in conn action with the recent storm has somewhat subsided, I trust you will give me space for few remarks especially as to the crowding of the public on the pier and the sands at shipwrecks. Under the exciting circumstances no amount of writing will prevent this. People will be attracted thither from a variety of causes, but it must occur to all sensible persons, after a moment's reflection, that the efforts of the Life Brigade should not be impeded those who, from impulsive curiosity, press upon them to see what being done.

In the case of saving the crew of the Isis, October 23, when the apparatus had to be worked the surf, the onlookers did not give room even to run the whipline on the dry sand, but came themselves to the water's edge and beyond. Every time a poor fellow was landed from the wreck there was a regular stampede over the brigadesmen and gear to see what he was like. At the wreck of the Harry Clem, at 8 p.m. the same day, a denser crowd collected, trampling over the ropes that were laid on the sand, and surrounding the rocket cart in such numbers that some of the members could with difficulty find it. Two rockets were thrown on board, but one of the crew told me none of their number knew what to do with the lines. They launched their boat, which a sea half filled, and managed to drift ashore in safety. This was an intense relief to us, for had their lives depended upon our efforts, we could have done very little for them, the gear being such a hopeless mass of entanglement from the cause above-mentioned. When life and death are trembling in the balance, when every moment is precious, and when every nerve is being strained by the rocket party to bring their efforts to successful issue, 'the public should be the last to give any possible cause for failure. The melancholy sequel to all this as seen in the five unfortunate spectators who should have been at their own firesides instead of being brought lifeless to the Brigade House is a lesson which, I trust, all concerned will take to heart. From what I know the number of victims might easily have been hundred.

In addition to the Coastguard, the Board of Trade some time ago invested two of the brigade officers with powers under the Merchant Shipping Act to deal with persons impeding or in any way interfering with the working of the rocket apparatus at wrecks. The offending parties are liable to a penalty of £50. My object in writing is to give this matter publicity, so that spectators at any future wrecks may know the responsibility they incur. I trust, however, that the "powers that be" may never have cause to put their authority to the test, but that the feelings of our common humanity will be sufficient to cause one and all to do nothing to jeopardize the lives of our fellow-creatures who, alas, are so often cast upon our shore,—l remain, yours faithfully,

S. Malcolm,
Honorary Secretary,
South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade,

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 Nov 1880