Third Annual Meeting

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade
Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was held, last night, in the Watch-house, on the South Pier. There was a full attendance of members, and others interested in the institution, including Mr A. Stevenson, Mr J. W. Lamb, Mr J. L. Hall, Mr Crisp, Mr Blaikie, Mr Smith (captain of the Lifeboat), Mr Cay, senr. Mr Cay, junr. Wilson, &c.; Ald. Glover occupied the chair.

The Chairman, in opening the meeting, expressed the pleasure it gave him to be present with them on the occasion of their annual meeting and proceeded to notice, briefly, the valuable services rendered by the Brigade during the severe storms which had visited the North East coast during the past year, and added that they been the means of rescuing 27 fellow-men from a watery grave. (Applause.) Very few brigades, no matter where, could say the same thing, and many of the members, who were always on the alert, ready to give assistance when required, had distinguished themselves by their gallant conduct. The institution of the Volunteer Life Brigade was one of the noblest, and he trusted it would continue to receive from the town that support which it so well deserved. (Hear, hear, and applause.) The Chairman then read letters from the following gentlemen, expressing their sorrow at their inability to attend the meeting that evening:—The Mayor (John Williamson, Esq.,) J. F. Spence Esq., secretary to the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade, and Henry Nelson, Esq. He concluded by calling upon

Mr S. Malcolm, the secretary, to read the annual report, of which the following is a copy:—

“The committee, in reviewing the events of the past year, feel grateful that it is their duty to report to the members and friends the continued usefulness and increasing value of this institution. As will be seen from the following brief summary, we have been kept tolerably busy in attending to those whose misfortune it has been to require our aid. On fourteen different occasions the signal guns have fired, summoning for service. July 6th, 1868, salmon boat capsized, and three men were saved. Sept. 27th, the schooner Impulse, of Maldon, got ashore behind the South Pier. The crew, seven in number were saved by the rocket apparatus. Oct. 4th, signal guns were fired, the steamer Martlett being in distress. Our services were not required. At half-past two on the morning of Oct. 23rd, the guns fired from the Castor. It proved a false alarm, much to the annoyance of those who turned out. Nov. 6th, the galliot Premier, of Montrose, came ashore. The crew, five in number, were safely landed. Three times during the day the signal guns sounded the alarm for ships in danger. At two o’clock on the morning of Nov. 24th, the guns summoned to one of the Commissioners' hoppers stranded on the beach. Several rockets were fired. These not answering, the lifeboat stationed on the sands was with much difficulty launched, and the crew of two men brought ashore. March 5th 1869, the guns summoned us to a coble in distress and March 29th to a schooner on the Herd Sand, but on neither occasion was the apparatus used. June 10th, a salmon boat got among the broken water along the beach, and was capsized. The two men were saved. The night June 15th and of 16th will long be remembered by the members who were on duty. The signal gun went off about ten p.m. The Brigade mustered in great force and took the gear along the pier but the whereabouts of the vessel was not known until a rocket was seen to up from the rocks about two miles along the coast. After severe struggles against wind and rain we managed to get there in time to assist the coastguard in saving the crew of seven hands of the schooner Anne, of Rye. Some members went home tired out, others came back the Watch-house, which was most fortunate, as two herring boats were driven ashore during the violence of the gale. The crew boat got out very easily, but the second boat's crew of three men would undoubtedly have been drowned had not been for this Brigade. Great courage was displayed by some, which has been reported to the Board Trade, and which we hope will be suitably acknowledged. Thus have we briefly mentioned the principal incidents of the past year, from which an idea can be obtained of what has been done, although very little idea of the exertion necessary to accomplish it. We have, however, the satisfaction knowing that, with our assistance, 26 men have been rescued, of whom several would otherwise have been drowned. These, added to others saved since our formation, in January, 1866, make grand total of 68, as the result of our labours. We think the value of the Watch House, more especially the room set apart for shipwrecked men, was never more manifest than during the gale of last month, when the men, in a few minutes after being got out of the water, were supplied with refreshments, dry clothing, a warm bed, and, if needs be, a hot bath also. Looking at these things we have reason to be thankful that a kind Providence has permitted us to be his humble instruments in doing a little to relieve the sufferings of those who have been cast upon our coast. We have at present 131 members on the roll books, of whom 80 have made themselves efficient by attending the required number of drills, of which there have been 13, with an average attendance of 42.2. January 29th, the Brigade was inspected by Capt. Robertson, R.N., Surveyor General, Board of Trade, who expressed himself highly satisfied with its efficiency. We are also glad to report that Mr Bell, one of the members, has invented a double sheeve block for travelling along the hawser. By this improved "traveller" people can be brought ashore with greater speed, and it is highly approved of by those who have seen it work. Steps are being taken to bring it before the notice of the Board of Trade, and we hope ere long to see in general use. The Board of Trade have built a new rocket house, and well furnished it with new apparatus. This addition was much needed, and makes our Watch House more complete. In February last the committee granted permission to the Rev. P. H. Moore, chaplain of the Joseph Straker mission ship, to hold religious services in the Watch House. These, with his able assistant, Mr Herdman, he has conducted on the Sunday evenings with gratifying success. They are becoming very popular, and lately a harmonium has been introduced, which will no doubt form an additional attraction. In conclusion, the committee hope the members will continue to manifest an increasing interest in this institution, and that it will always be their desire to maintain the efficiency and usefulness of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade."

 The Treasurer (Mr Archibald Stevenson) read his report. The Income had been £35 3s 6d, and the expenditure side of the account showed a balance of £10 in favour of the Brigade. Mr Stevenson said on the face of it the report was flattering; but they required to spend a large sum for painting the house, and therefore their balance would be taken up. He thought that the underwriters of the port had set a good example by contributing to their funds, as it was the first society of the sort which had done so. The Lifeboat Committee had given £10, and Mr Cay, one of the committee, said they were prepared to give more if necessary.

 The report and balance sheet were passed.

 Mr J. W. Lamb said he thought the Brigade did not receive that support from the trustees of the Lifeboat Fund which they ought. The Volunteer Life Brigade rendered infinitely more service in saving lives than the lifeboats, and he thought that instead of their receiving £5 from the fund-  

Mr Matthew Cay : With all due deference to you, Mr Lamb, but the Brigade at present receives £10 from the trustees of the Lifeboat Fund, with an assurance of more if required. (Applause.)

Mr Lamb: I am exceedingly glad that this fact has been brought before the public, because it is very important.

Mr Cay: If the Life Brigade wanted £20, I have no doubt they would get it. (Applause.)

Mr J. L. Hall said that, as a trustee of the Lifeboat Fund, he could bear testimony to the zealous manner in which Mr Cay at all times looked after the interests of the Brigade.

 It was then agreed that the reports be printed and circulated, and a copy of them sent to the Shipping Gazette.

 Mr W. Malcolm said there was one member of the Brigade to whom a special vote of thanks ought to be passed. He was at all times, and under all circumstances, ready to attend when the Brigade was called out, and, moreover, he looked after the property belonging the brigade with great care; and, therefore, he had great pleasure in proposing a vote of thanks to Mr T. A. Wilson for his valuable services. (Applause.)

 Mr A Stevenson seconded the motion and said he looked upon the services of Mr Wilson to the Brigade worth nearly £50. But Mr Wilson did not work for money; He worked for love— (applause)—and if they were to lose him, his services would be greatly missed. (Applause.)

 Mr Wilson returned thanks, and said it gave him great pleasure to be present at the meeting that evening. It had always been his study to do whatever lay in his power to further the objects of the Life Brigade, and common humanity told him to do so. He was very willing, when he had an hour or so to spare, to devote it in the service of the Volunteer Life Brigade. (Applause.)  

Mr Blaikie said he had been asked to propose a vote of thanks to of the officebearers, whose name, he was quite sure, he had only to mention in order that it might meet with their hearty approval, namely, Mr Malcolm, the secretary. (Applause.) They were all aware what an important office that of secretary was in connection with almost anything; in fact, a smart, energetic secretary was a host in himself, and he felt confident that, Mr Malcolm, they had the right man in -the right place. (Applause.) He was not now untried. He had been secretary to the Brigade, he believed, since its commencement, and they had had a true illustration hitherto of what he was able to do. It was a matter of the greatest importance that they should have, in connection with an institution of that kind, an intelligent person as secretary—one who was able to represent their interests on all occasions—one who was able to draw up such a report as they had before them that evening. (Applause.) And not only that, they all knew how devoted he was to the interests of the institution, not only as secretary, but as a member of the Brigade, and they further knew how seldom he was absent when the members were called out (Hear, hear, and applause.) He had, therefore, great pleasure in moving to him vote of thanks.

J. L. Hall seconded the motion with the greatest of pleasure, and said the picture had not been overdrawn by Mr Blaikie. (Applause.)

 The motion was carried with acclamation.

Mr Malcolm briefly replied, and said he had always taken great interest in the Brigade, and any labour devoted to it, only felt, in tendering his services was doing his duty. (Applause.)

Mr Cay, senr. proposed a vote of thanks to the Treasurer Mr Archibald Stevenson. He passed a eulogy upon the family to which belonged—a family noted for their philanthropic acts. (Applause)

The motion having been seconded and carried

 Mr Stevenson replied and said that be, as treasurer, had very little to do; occasionally he had to sign a cheque for money to be drawn out of the bank, and, indeed, if there was no money in the bank belonging to the brigade he would still sign a cheque. (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman: If I were you I would not part with Mr Stevenson, as treasurer. (Laughter.)

 A vote of thanks was then passed to Mr Charles Anderson, for his liberality in supplying the Watch House with coal; .also to the Chairman and Mr J. L. Hall for supplying the Watch House with water; and also to Dr Stokoe and his assistant, Mr Winter. The business part of the meeting over, the room was cleared, and, in a short time, the members returned to an excellent repast, kindly given by Mr Archibald Stevenson, Ald. Glover occupied the chair. Toast and song was the round the evening, the meeting passing off most harmoniously. The company broke up about eleven o'clock.

 The following officers were appointed for the ensuing year: Captains Wilson, W. Cay, Matthew Cay, and Nicholas Riddle. Treasurer, Archibald Stevenson, Esq., secretary,-.Mr Malcolm. The committee George Stokoe, R. Bell, T. Wilson, J. Crisp, J. G Mabane, T. Horsley, P. Birch, J. S. Smith, G. Smith, T. Wood, Mark McQueen, and R. Wells. Deputy Captains —T. Horsley, T. A. Wilson, George Smith, and John Clark. Surgeons—Drs Stokoe, and Winter.

Source: South Shields Daily Gazette 31 July1869