J. H. Wood Award

The Storm
Narrow Escape Of A Steamer At South Shields
A Sad Accident At The Pier

This afternoon, about half-past two o'clock, in a strong squall of wind and rain, the signal guns alarmed the whole neighbourhood. Immediately there was a treading of many feet to the South Pier, where, in a few minutes, thousands of people repeated the scene of 8 days ago—gained the pier to find that their errand had been bootless, and that only steamer riding in the safe waters of the narrows was to be seen. It appears that the screw-steamer Firdene was entering the river when it was noticed that she had got rather too far to the southward. Those on the look out at Tynemouth, possibly imagining that a stranding was to be momentarily expected, gave the signal, and the guns were fired The steamer, however, never got beyond the possibility of a touch on the pier; she was brought safely to the channel, and entered safely. The life brigade were down in force, and two lifeboats were launched.


A sad accident, caused in great measure by the crush of spectators on the pier, occurred while crowds were watching an incoming schooner, the Maggie A. Two lads, the one about fourteen years of age, the second, somewhat younger, were washed over the pier into the water. A heavy surf was running, but it did not deter the gallant attempt being made to rescue the unfortunate lads. Mr J. H. Wood, a member of the Brigade, and Mr J. R. Dixon, of Newcastle, sprung into the sea, and each caught one of the drowning lads. A line was thrown, but the people ashore foolishly attempted to draw the rescuers and their charges up the jetty instead of to the pier side. The consequence that Mr Wood, bearing the older lad, and exhausted by his brave efforts to keep himself and the boy afloat, could not stand the strain, and was obliged to let go the poor fellow. Mr Swainston attempted to get hold of the drowning lad, but was unsuccessful. The little fellow rescued was taken by kindly hands to the Brigade-house, and had wants attended to.

The Maggie A, a light schooner, was watched with some anxiety as she entered the Tyne this afternoon. She got rather far to the southward, but, being well handled, made a safe entrance.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 24 October 1885

I BEG to RETURN my sincere THANKS to the two gentlemen (Mr Wood and Mr Dixon) who so nobly rescued my son from Drowning at the Pier on Saturday last; and also for the attention given to him by the Members of the Life Brigade while he was in their hands.


Keppel Street, South Shields 26th October

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 October 1885

The chief point of interest in the proceedings was the presentation of a bronze medal and vellum certificate from the Royal Humane Society to Mr John Henry Wood, member of the South Shields Life Brigade, and Captain Joseph Ralph Dixon, of Brandling Park, Newcastle, for distinguished bravery at the South Shields pier during the great storm of October 24th last. It will be remembered that two lads were swept off the pier by a heavy sea. The gentlemen named gallantly plunged into the water to the rescue. One boy was saved, but the other was drowned. A detailed account the adventure was published in the Gazette at the time. The Mayor, who made the presentation, said that Mr Wood was member of the Brigade, of whom, he was proud to say courage and heroism had been the chief attributes. They were banded together to save life, and nobly had it done its work whenever the chance came. The courage displayed by Wood and Mr Dixon was of high order—it combined both the physical and the moral. He hoped that both gentlemen would be spared with strength to perform similar work. (Applause)— The Mayor then made the presentations amidst applause, after which a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to him for doing so. Mr Dixon, we are informed, was awarded a certificate by the Spanish Government for saving a young lady from drowning at Bilbao, in 1882 and also with a gold ring by the parents of the lady. Mr Wood was warmly congratulated by his friends after the receipt the certificate and medal.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 January 1886