Formation Of the Brigade

Volunteer Life Brigade for South Shields-A requisition is lying for signature at Messrs. Mackay’s, Market Place, asking the Mayor to call a meeting to consider the propriety of forming a Life Brigade for South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 January 1866

To The Worshipful Mayor of South Shields


SIR, —We, the Undersigned, request you call a PUBLIC MEETING of the inhabitants of this Borough, to consider the propriety of Forming a


South Shields, January 8,, 1866

(Here follow Forty-three Signatures)

In compliance with the foregoing Requisition, I do hereby convene a PUBLIC MEETING of the Inhabitants of this Borough to be held in the Town Hall on MONDAY FIRST, the 15th of January instant, at Half past Seven o’ clock in the Evening, for the purpose aforesaid.



South Shields, January 11, 1866

Source: North & Shields Daily Gazette 13 January 1866

We are glad observe that the proposal to establish a Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields has so far progressed that, in compliance with a requisition, the Mayor of the borough has called a public meeting on the subject for Monday evening next. We have no doubt that the scheme will meet, as it well deserves to do, with the enthusiastic approval of the public, but, in order to make it thoroughly successful, the pilots will have to give their invaluable services. They, of all others in the neighbourhood, are best able to grapple with those emergencies that would call the Brigade to action, and from their past history the pilots of South Shields are not the men to withhold their aid when it is required in the cause of the storm-tossed sailor.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 13 January 1866

South Shields Life Brigade

Stimulated to a good work by its neighbours on the north bank of the Tyne, South Shields resolved last night, in public meeting assembled, that it would not be behind in the noble work of assisting to save the life of the shipwrecked sailor. The meeting was not one where commanding eloquence was called into play in order to arouse the interest of the inhabitants in the undertaking which they had met to forward, and there was not to be found within the walls of the Town Hall a large muster of the men of South Shields. The occasion, indeed, was not one where “the gentlemen of England, who sit at home at ease” were very much wanted, but as there was no lack of influential persons to dispose of the necessary formalities the absence of those who may be styled the Honorary Life Brigadesmen was not in any way to be regretted. Around the Hall was distributed the right sort of material out of which to make the sentinels of the storm. Young men who seemed regard their presence in the Town Hall passage an intrusion, hung about the door of the building, and at last made bold to enter; but, very shortly, those fine young fellows, girded with tangible tokens of the hearty wishes entertained by the ladies of the borough for the success of the Volunteer Life Brigade, will take their stand at the river’s mouth, and be eager to confront danger as they were averse to court attention on the night which saw the Brigade called into existence. The necessity for such an organisation is admitted on all hands, and the circumstance that the steady progress of those very improvements which are every year attracting shipping in greater numbers to the Tyne is in itself a source of temporary danger to strangers, ought to form a strong inducement for every influential resident on the river to assist either directly or indirectly in bringing these Life Brigades to the highest point of efficiency. The more perfectly equipped that the river becomes for the saving of life, the less is it likely to suffer in the estimation of those at a distance, who are apt to have their opinions of its capabilities modified by reports of loss of life, into the exact cause of which they are seldom the trouble to enquire. Mr Archibald Stevenson—one of the mast enthusiastic promoters of the Brigade—stated the meeting that very little money would be required to get the brigade into working order, and, an organization of volunteers, the demands upon its funds ought to be very light; but still money is power in all such bodies, and the fuller the purse the greater the likelihood of efficiency being secured in their operations. We have no doubt Mr Stevenson would be glad to find that the Brigade was likely to encumbered with the care of spare cash, and on a river like the Tyne, whose income is increasing at rate beyond all anticipation, there ought to be no lack of money, as there certainly will be none of men, to secure the permanency of the Life Brigade at each of the harbour towns.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 January1866

A Volunteer Life Brigade For South Shields

A public meeting, called by the Mayor in accordance with an influentially signed requisition, was held in the Town Hall, South Shields, last night, for the purpose of considering the propriety of forming a volunteer life brigade for South Shields. There was a good attendance, and among those present were the Mayor, in the chair, Robert Ingham. Esq., M.P.; Alderman James; Thomas Salmon, Esq.; Messrs A. Stevenson, S. Malcolm, George Lyall, Joseph Crisp, Luke Mackey, Councillor Rennoldson, Dr Denham, Dr Stokoe, - Wright, &c., &c.

The Mayor in opening the meeting said; In compliance with the requisition which was presented me I called the present meeting. I will just read the requisition, it explains the object of our meeting:- “To the worshipful the Mayor of South  Shields. Sir, —We, the undersigned, request you to call a public meeting of the inhabitants of this borough, to consider the propriety of forming a Volunteer Life Brigade South Shields, January 8th, 1866.” I think there can only be one opinion as to the desirability and the necessity of forming such a brigade, and I am sure that the town which originated the lifeboat will not be slow in adopting any further  facilities or plans that may be suggested for the preservation of life from shipwreck (Hear, hear.) The necessity of forming a life brigade in this town is increased by the present position of the entrance to the harbour, and its transition state, in consequence of the erection of piers. Formerly, the danger to vessels entering the harbour was what was called the Herd Sand, but now in consequence of the south pier, the greatest danger lies in the vessels stranding on the foundation stones of the Pier and this renders it necessary that we should make an addition to our present means of saving life in such cases, the lifeboat—which I may say is most efficiently managed by the noble and daring set men in the kingdom—(cheers) -the South Shields pilots. There are occasions however, when the lifeboat cannot assist vessels in distress and to meet such cases we have the rocket system, at present managed by the coastguardsmen and the life-brigade, is intended to aid their efforts and render rocket system thoroughly efficient (Applause). As I have said before, there can only one opinion as to the necessity of such a brigade. I will not detain you with any further remarks, but simply call upon Ald. James to move the first resolution. (Applause.)

Ald. James said: I have great pleasure in moving the first resolution :—“ That under any circumstances the establishment of a Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields, with all its life-preserving and philanthropic objects, would be most useful and desirable, and it is the more so now when the dangers of shipwreck arising from the transition state which the harbour entrance is of necessity undergoing, by the piers and other judicious improvements now being proceeded with, call specially for the services of such a brigade.”  I am sure this movement, for the establishment of a life brigade, is a credit to those who have brought it forward. (Hear, hear.) The saving of life is only doing to others what we would like to be done to ourselves under similar circumstances. During these last few years since the erection of the piers has been commenced there have been several vessels lost on the outer end of the south pier, and the lifeboat has not always been able to get near to them to save the crews, which we might have done by the rocket apparatus had we had a suitable place to fire the rocket from. Such a place has only been erected during the last few months in that staging which is being erected at the outer end of the pier, and is raised considerably above the level of the pier. It furnishes a very good place from which to fire a rocket over any vessel that may be trapped on the stones which are laid down for the foundation of the pier. (Applause.) Persons who know the port will endeavour to keep off these, knowing that the stones are there, but strangers who have not that knowledge will endeavour to keep as close to the land as they can and they consequently get trapped on the stones. That will be the case until the pier is completed. The lifeboat, I am satisfied will in most cases be able to save the lives of the crews of such vessels better than could done by the rocket apparatus, but there might be cases where the lifeboat could not reach the vessel, and that would be the chance for the life brigade, and if such a brigade can save even one life in the course of the twelve months I think their labour will be repaid. (Applause.) I shall be most happy to render any assistance I can to the brigade, though I am sure there are many young men in the town who will be glad to accept the office of forming the brigade, and I have no doubt there will be no difficulty in getting a sufficient number to join it. (Applause.) I have, therefore, great pleasure moving the resolution I have just read. (Applause.)

Mr Ingham said: I have great pleasure indeed in seconding the resolution, and I do so with a sincere feeling of gratitude towards those gentlemen in this town who have taken a prominent part in calling this meeting together, and in making the preparations for the formation of the life brigade. I also feel, as I am sure we all do, that we are under a great obligation to our friends on the other side of the water, who have already, by the establishment of such brigade, shown how practicable and serviceable it is. (Hear, hear, and applause. ) It would be idle in me attempt to add anything to what has been already said by the Mayor and Alderman James. I am sorry to say that my position and frequent absence will prevent my taking an active part in the movement, and that deepens my obligation to those who are now bringing this matter forward. I do think that no place can more appropriately take this movement than South Shields, situated as it is at the mouth of the river Tyne, and where the first great enterprise undertaken for the rescue life from shipwreck by means of the lifeboat —(applause)—now that improvements have been made on other apparatus introduced for the same purpose, I think it is quite appropriate that we should take a prominent place in forming such a supplementary establishment to the lifeboat as a Volunteer Life Brigade would be. (Applause.)

The resolution was then put to the meeting and agreed unanimously.

Dr Stokoe, in moving the second resolution, said, after the remarks we have already listened to, I think it is quite unnecessary for me to say anything in submitting the resolution which I beg to propose, and which is as follows:- “ That a volunteer life brigade be and is hereby formed and established for and at South Shields, upon such principle, with such members and officers, and with such rules and regulations for its organization, management, and guidance as shall be determined upon, fixed, and drawn up, with the approval of the Board Trade, by a committee now to be appointed." I only regret that have been far behind our excellent neighbours in North Shields in forming such corps. We all attach due importance to the lifeboat, and I may say I was very much pleased the other day to read the remark made by a French captain who had been cast in a fog on our shores, and who, when asked how he knew that he on the English coast, said he knew it by the way the lifeboat came out. (Applause.) Such a remark confirms and heightens all our sympathies with the lifeboat men of South Shields, and although the majority them have other duties to attend to and they cannot all be expected to join the volunteer life brigade, still I hope our friends the pilots will assist this movement as much they possibly can. (Applause.) I have much pleasure moving the resolution.

Mr Joseph Crisp said I have great pleasure in seconding the resolution, and I am just anxious to say that I should like to be put down as a working member of the life brigade. (Applause.) Being the son of a sailor I deem it my duty to lend all the assistance in my power to a movement for saving the lives of sailors. (Applause.)

The resolution was then put to the meeting and carried unanimously.

Mr Luke Mackey then moved the third resolution as follows:

“That such committee shall consist of Messrs James, T. Pike. W. Cay, E. Maxwell, Robert Blair, Thomas Tynemouth, Joseph Crisp, Luke Mackey, and J. P. Rennoldson (with power to add to their members), of whom three shall be a quorum for the despatch of business. Messrs A. Stevenson and S. Malcolm to be joint secretaries.”

Mr Richard Stevenson, pilot said: I have great pleasure in seconding the resolution. I think that there has been enough said about a Volunteer Life Brigade without my saying anything, but I will just give you my opinion, and that is, that I think it will be a very good thing. (Applause.) I quite agree with what Ald. James said when he called the pier foundations a trap. I believe that it is a trap, and several ships have been trapped upon them, and the lifeboat has great difficulty in getting at them; and I think the Life Brigade will be the means of saving life when the lifeboat could not do it. (Applause.)

The motion was put to the meeting and carried unanimously.

Mr Arch. Stevenson said; before the meeting separates, I would like to tell you what Mr Hugh Taylor said to me when I told him that we were going to get up a brigade on this side. He said “It is a very good thing indeed; of course I cannot come to assist you on your side, but if ever you want any money, or anything that I can do for you, I will be very glad if you will apply to me.” (Applause.) I may say that I not think very much money wanted, as far as I can make out from what Mr Spence says, the Board of Trade find everything, and the only thing we will have to provide is some sort distinguishing badge. At Tynemouth they have belt which, with buckles and slides, cost 1s 6d, at least that was the cost in the Tynemouth Brigade, but then the North Shields ladies embroidered the letters on the belts, but if that had to done the London military people they will charge four-pence a letter. However, I have no doubt if the men of South Shields do their duty they will see whether the South Shields ladies would embroider the belts for them. (Applause, and Alderman James; I have fear that.)

The Mayor then said; I have to congratulate you on the establishment of this Life Brigade. Our meeting has not been a long one, but we have done a great deal of business and I think that is the best way of doing-talk little and do much. (Applause) I hope that this life brigade will be most useful, and that it will be successful, should the necessity arise, in saving the lives of many sailors who might otherwise perish. (Applause)

Ald. James said that before they separated he thought he ought to give thanks to their worthy Mayor for taking the chair on that occasion (Applause.) He only hoped the volunteer life brigade would be as successful as the lifeboat had been-(applause)-and that had been one of the most successful institutions of the country.  (Cheers)

Mr Ingham begged to second the vote of thanks. The meeting had been most successful, and they all knew how much the success of a meeting depended on the chairman. (Applause)

The Mayor, in replying, said he thanked them sincerely for the way in which they had expressed their thanks. He should always be ready to assist in his official capacityin any good work of a similar nature, or any work that was for the moral or social welfare of the people (Applause.)

The meeting then broke up, but before separating a good number were enrolled as members of the brigade.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 January 1866

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade

From the subjoined communication, which been received by Archibald Stevenson, Esq., it will be seen that the proposal to establish a Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields meets with official favour, and has the prospect of immediate assistance from the proper quarter:—

“Board of Trade,
“Surveyor General's Office,
“5 India Avenue, St.
“London, E.C. Jan. 25, 1866.

“Dear Sir,—l have made year letter to me respecting the life Brigade an official one. You need, therefore, do nothing more. You will have ample from the Board of Trade, gladly accepting the services of the Life Brigade. I suppose you will form it (at least for the present) like the Tynemouth Brigade, adapting similar rules. The Inspecting Commander at Sunderland will be directed to communicate with you and Mr Malcolm with a view to commencing drills, &c., as soon as possible; and wishing your Corps every success, I am, yours very faithfully,

“R. Robertson”

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 January 1866

Shields Volunteer Life Brigade. — At a meeting of the committee, held last night, in the Mechanics' Institute. The following letter, addressed to the honorary secretaries was read:— “Board of Trade, Whitehall, 30th January, 1866. Gentlemen, —I am directed by the Board of Trade to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 18th instant, and in reply I am to inform you that this Board will be glad to accept the services of the Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields, on their adopting, temporarily, the present rules of the Tynemouth Brigade, a copy of which is inclosed. l am further to inform you that general rules for the formation of life brigades are under the consideration of this Board.—l am, gentlemen, your obedient servant, J. Emerson Tennant."
It was agreed that subscriptions be collected by the committee, and that the first meeting for drill be held Saturday next, at the South Pier, at three o'clock the afternoon, when several rockets will be fired. Upwards of 100 men have already been enrolled.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 13 February 1866