Fatal shipwreck at the mouth of the Tyne. Loss of three lives

One of those fearful disasters, which are destined at certain intervals to befall the shipping of the north-east ports, especially The Tyne happened yesterday. The gale which raged during the last week, went down on Friday night, but the weather still remained tempestuous, the sea was rough, although having fallen a few feet. Saturday the wind blew from the north-north-west, and was accompanied towards evening by heavy showers of sleet and rain but during the night following the breeze lulled a little. On Sunday morning, when the Dutch schooner Frisia left her moorings at South Shields, to proceed out of the harbour, there was cold wind blowing from the north-north-west, which ruffled the sea into broken waves. The schooner was in tow of the tug Percy, and went safely along until she reached the Fish Pier, on the south side, when, owing to the lightness of the tug was driven too far to leeward. An unsuccessful effort was made to regain the mid-channel the result of which was that the towline broke. Abandoned to her fate, the Frisia was rapidly borne onward to the end of the South Pier where the waves were breaking tolerably high. The staysail was at once set and the anchor let go, but it was too late. The vessel was among the breakers, and was soon flung by a heavy wave broadside among the rocks at the pier end. With all possible speed the Noble Institution lifeboat, of North Shields, and the other three lifeboats, one from Tynemouth and two from South Shields, were on their way to the spot, but before they could reach the ship she was dashed to atoms, only seven minutes having elapsed between her striking and her destruction. A tug in the neighbourhood had steamed close but was unable help her. The Noble Institution which had put off almost the moment the struck, ventured near so near the vessel, while not yet broken up, as to endanger the safety the lifeboat, all the starboard oars being disabled. Still no aid could be rendered. Before the Fresia broke up, Captain Wilson, of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, accompanied by others who were in the Brigade House, managed to reach the end of the pier with lines and lifebuoys, and saw just before the vessel broke up, the crew collected on the forecastle. When she broke up, Captain Wilson and his companions made every endeavour to save the unfortunate crew, but they could avail themselves of nothing until in the water. The captain of the vessel then seized hold the maintop, and was for some time tossed among the breakers and the timbers which floated everywhere, until he managed to fasten a line around his waist. Two seamen also got hold of spars, and three were rescued by the lines, greatly exhausted. The dead bodies of the other men were soon recovered, with the exception that of the cook which floated some distance down the pier, and was picked up quite dead. Altogether three perished out of the crew of six. .The captain and two seamen were taken along to the Brigade House, where they were attended to. The bodies of the other three men were also carried there, every means of restoring them to life were tried until, upon the arrival of Doctors Crease, Gowan and Crisp, it was proved that life was extinct. Long before this, however, the townspeople of South Shields warned by the guns, flocked by thousands to the scene of the disaster. Almost the whole of the pier black with spectators, including a few early pedestrians, who were on the pier where the vessel struck, and Captain Wilson and his comrades, none witnessed the disaster close at hand, although it was seen from the north side of the harbour. The names the saved the crew are Captain C. A. Roben (New Herlingesien), Merpell Pomelson and Albert Muckel, able seamen. Those drowned are the mate, B. Jazen (Herlingesien), the boatswain, Habeen, and the cook Inken. The Frisia belonged the Island of Spiggero, near New Herlingesien, and was bound from the Tyne to Bremerhaven with a cargo of pig iron, bricks, barrels, red ochre etc. A great part of the wreck came ashore, including the captain’s log-book, which is quite new, not an entry being made in it. Three Seamen's chest also turned up, two smashed open, but third entire and corded up as if the owner had intended to depart.

Source Shields Daily Gazette 4th of December1871

The Loss of The Frisia
Inquest On The Bodies

Yesterday afternoon, the inquest on the bodies of three seamen who were drowned by the wreck of the Fresia, on Sunday morning, was opened at the Marine Hotel, Ocean Road, South Shields—before Mr J, M. Favell, coroner. The names of the deceased are Behrend Janzen, 30 (mate); Foicke Habeen, 25 (boatswain); Habe Inken, 19 (cook).

The first witness called was

Capt. Hillen Roben, a Hanoverian. He gave his evidence generally in English, but occasionally through a German interpreter present. He said: I was captain of the Frisia. She came from New Herlingesien, Germany. I have seen the bodies of the deceased. They were drowned yesterday. We were towing out by the steamtug Percy. The wind was north-north-east and north-east, and when we got to the bar, it became right ahead, and the steamer could not tow us out. Another steamboat came, we gave her the small warp, and that one broke. A third came, but it was unable to take us off, and we then went on to the pier, the ship went to pieces, and the three men were drowned. A line from one of the Volunteer Life Brigade was thrown to me, and I was saved by it. I did not see the towline part.

Captain Wilson, the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, said I saw this vessel before it came ashore. My attention was drawn to the vessel, and said it is coming ashore as fast possible When went look, I found that the rockets were there, but there was no tube-box. I immediately went into the house, and secured the fuse-box, and called on the men who were going down to the pier to stop and get the van pulled down with the gear. By that time the coastguard came, and I said, “This vessel going to be a complete wreck”. I said “get your things", and I got the men out and went down. When I arrived at the rocks, I said to Sinclair, "Now there is a crew, here is good staff of men. Save the men: the lifeboat was on one side the brigade on the other." The principal thing is the neglect in firing the gun from Tynemouth to summon the brigade, let them know that a vessel was on shore. They were fired, but not until the vessel was disabled and one of her masts gone. I stood before I moved the van from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour expecting the signal for the lifeboats and brigade, which are not proceed until the guns are fired.

(The Coroner: Then you think if the guns had fired sooner their lives would have been saved?)

Witness: I am confident they would have been saved, because we have had the case of the Seahorse where seven lives were saved. I would have had my men together ten minutes sooner. Three guns are fired as the signal from the Spanish Battery, and afterwards three from the Castor. That is the signal, and all my men go to their station. I assisted to save three of the men. The reason the ship came ashore was because the boat was not strong enough to go against tide. Mr Mabane and others assisted me. We put the bodies picked up through the Humane Society's treatment. The witness then related the case of another vessel which came ashore six weeks or two months ago.

Mr G. Mabane, having stated that the Life Brigade simply acted under the Coastguard, and all responsibility was upon the latter, said: I am one of the captains of the Brigade. I assisted to save the captain and as I went back I saw two men struggling with the body of the boatswain, and assisted to bring it onto the pier. I saw the other bodies brought into the house. They were all dead. I afterwards helped to carry the cook's body to the dead-house.

John Findlay Runciman, mariner, said: I was present when the bodies of the crew were found. They were found on the north side of the pier. To all appearance they were dead.

The Coroner, who spoke in high terms of the Life Brigade, recommended the jury to return the following verdict—"That these three men were drowned on the 3rd December by the German vessel Frisia going on shore on the South Pier, the steamer not being sufficiently powerful to aid her when the wind changed on the bar." In accordance with the coroner's recommendation, this verdict was returned.

Source: Frisia Inquest Shields Daily Gazette 5th of December 1871
Source: Frisia auction Shields Daily Gazette 6th of December 1871

The Wreck Of The Hanoverian Schooner Frisier

W. G. TATE and SON will SELL BY AUCTION at the South Pier, on Friday, December 8th, 1871, at One o’clock, the WRECK and STORES of the above named vessel, including masts, yards, spars, chains, anchors, ropes, sails, copper bolts, rudder, gudgeons, &c

Piers Committee

11 December 1871

On Sunday 3rd inst. the Prussian schooner “Frissia” going out in tow broke tow line and became a wreck and was driven against the North row of piles of the staging and broke four of them infirming the timber framing supported by them which suspended for a time endangered the whole staging. These timbers were however cut away and floated clear of the rest of the staging so that for the present the damage to the staging is confined to that actually done by the wrecked vessel.

I may add that the vessel broke up in a few minutes after striking and of the crew of 6, three were drowned, the surviving three having been saved by the lines from the uninformed portion of the staging.

It is ordered that application be made to the Owners of the Vessel “Frissia” for payment of cost of repairing damage done to the South Pier staging by that vessel on Sunday the 3rd inst.

6 February 1872

At the outer end of the pier the damage done to the staging (done by the “Frissia”) has been in cause of repair and a safety hand rail has been fixed to the parapet coping for a length of 700ft.

12 March 1872

At the outer end of the pier the repair of the staging has continued two of the piles destroyed by the wreck of the “Frissia” in December last having been replaced and secured by the upper framing.

Source: Piers Committe Minutes