Great storm on the north-east coast
Two vessels ashore South Shields gallant rescue of the crews
For several days strong westerly gales had prevailed, and the weather generally had been unsettled. The sea on the north-east coast was not much disturbed, owing to the winds being westerly. About dusk on Saturday, however, the wind suddenly chopped round to SSE, and blew exceptionally heavy squalls, and there were also frequent heavy showers of rain. The sea suddenly became very boisterous, and several vessels made for and entered the Tyne in safety, but shortly after seven o'clock one vessel stranded on the south side of the South Pier, and was soon followed another. Shortly before the first vessel struck, H. Ashton, Coastguardsman, and Mr C. Wilson, an active member of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, were walking along the South Pier, when they observed the red light of a vessel off the east end the structure. They believed her to be out of danger, when suddenly they saw her green light, and, knowing she must then strike upon the Pier, they made the usual signal for the firing of the alarm guns. This was promptly done, and a large number of volunteers were soon mustered for duty, and the usual rush of spectators accompanied them to the scene of the casualty. In the meantime the Coastguardsmen, with the limited assistance then to hand, had the van containing the rocket apparatus taken along the Pier, and stationed opposite the stranded vessel, which proved to be the brig George Clark, belonging Mr James Young, J.P., Ogle Terrace, South Shields. In an exceedingly short time the volunteers were assembled, and a rocket was fired across the vessel. This went over the fore braces, but being very high the crew did not go aloft to secure the line. A second rocket was fired, but it missed the ship, A third one went over the ship, but the crew failed to find the line, and a fourth was fired before communication was established between the Pier and the ship. The last rocket was fired at a lower elevation than its predecessors, and the line was carried over the bulwarks. The crew easily discovered this, and the hawser being hauled on board was made fast the starboard side of the forerigging. The coastguardsmen burned several of Captain Milward's illuminating lights, and the whole of the operations were carried on with the utmost ease. The men on the stranded brig could be seen as distinctly as though it had been broad daylight. The vessel was lying within a stone's throw of the Pier, and conversation could be carried on with comparative ease, so that directions how to use the apparatus could be given with perfect distinctness. Communication having been established between the Pier and the vessel, the breeches buoy was sent off, and, one by one, the whole of the crew of eight hands were safely landed. The crew also brought ashore a dog and cat, which were on board. The whole of the men belonged to South Shields, and they proceeded direct to their homes. The George Clark was commanded Captain Edward White, and was bound Boulogne for the Tyne in ballast. She was built Whitby, in 1810, and is a vessel 248 tons register.
Source Shields Daily Gazette 28th November 1881
The Brig George Clarke
This vessel, which got ashore, last Saturday evening, at South Pier, South Shields, was towed off this morning by the steam-tug Scotia, belonging to Mr Joseph Lawson, of South Shields, and taken into the harbour.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 December 1881
Report of Edward White, master of the brig George Clarke, of South Shields,248 tons, from Boulogne, Nov. 24, for the Tyne (with 150 tons coprolites):—On the 26th, at 7 p.m., tide being high water, weather stormy, wind S, blowing a gale, with a high sea, deponent was keeping his vessel close in to fetch the South Pier. It was very dark and thick, with rain, and deponent could see neither Souter nor Tynemouth Light till close to the pier to clear it. Deponent had therefore to starboard his helm and run the vessel on the beach to save the crew and property. Deponent passed Whitby about 1 p.m., and saw nothing after that he could make out distinctly; he steered NNW 1/2 W from Whitby; the weather was then fine, and the vessel under all plain sail. About 5 p.m., it commenced to blow and rain, and all sail was reduced to two topsails and foresails.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 December 1881