Fatal Collision
Off the Tyne
A Pleasure-Seeker Killed
Damage to Two Steamers


Yesterday afternoon, about four o'clock, a collision occurred between two screwsteamers which resulted in the death of one man and serious injury to another, besides great damage to both vessels, off the Tyne a short distance to the south east of the South Pier. Being Good Friday, and the weather exceedingly fine, large numbers of people were perambulating the pier and sea beach at the time, and the utmost sensation was caused by the occurrence, the news of which spread rapidly through the town. The sea was quite smooth, and the atmosphere, to use the expression a mariner who witnessed the collision from the shore, was "as clear as a bell." The steamers which collided were the Renown, belonging Messrs J. Hall and Co., Newcastle, and the Aberfoyle owned by Messrs Thomas Adam and Co., of Aberdeen, whose large fleet of steamers trade regularly to and from the Tyne, Both vessels left the Tyne during the afternoon, the former bound to Lisbon, and the latter for Ergosteria. After getting a little to the southward of the South Pier, the Aberfoyle was brought up for purpose of adjusting compasses, While in this position the Renown came into violent collision with the Aberfoyle, striking her nearly amidships on the starboard side, with such force as to cut her completely down to the water's edge. The collision caused great excitement on board both steamers, and especially on board the Aberfoyle which was rapidly filling with water. So precarious was her position that the captain, in order to prevent her sinking, was compelled to run her ashore, which he succeeded in doing about half way along the Herd Sands South Shields, The Renown also sustained considerable damage, both bows being stove in, She was compelled to return, and was taken in tow by a tug and brought into Shields harbour, being moored to the tiers opposite the Middle Docks, South Shields. In consequence to the damage to the bows, her fore compartment is full of water. The most lamentable result of the collision, however, was the death of a man named Butler, 29 years of age, a grocer, living in Slake Terrace, Tyne Dock, who, being a friend of the captain of the Aberfoyle, was on board that steamer for pleasure, intending doubtless to return home when the steamer proceeded on her voyage. When trying to jump on board the Renown he fell between the two vessels and was crushed to death. One of the firemen, named Robert McDougal, 25 years of age, living at 82 East Holborn, South Shields, had his left leg broken, and after being taken on shore, was conveyed to the Newcastle Infirmary.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 24 March 1883

The Aberdeen steamer Aberfoyle, beached on the Herd Sand after Friday's collision, has suffered great damage from the sea, and it is feared a total wreck.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 March 1883

The Fatal Collision off the Tyne
Inquest on the Passenger

Yesterday morning, the Deputy-Coroner, Mr A. F. Shepherd, opened an inquest on the body of, Wm. Jno, Butler, salesman for Mr Hulmes, flour merchant, Tyne Dock, who was killed through the Renown and Aberfoyle collision on Good Friday off the South Pier.  The Coroner explained that he could only take formal evidence of identification that day, to allow the body to be buried, and then the inquiry would have to be adjourned. The body was then viewed, and Mr John Cooke, butcher, Slake Terrace, afterwards gave the evidence of identification.

Another witness, one of crew of the Aberfoyle, was called to prove that deceased was on board the vessel. He said his name was William Ross, and he lived at 45 Frederick Street, South Shields. The Aberfoyle left Tyne Dock on Friday last, about 2 o' clock, for Ergosteria. Deceased was on board as a friend of the captain for pleasure. About four o'clock they were about three quarters of a mile from the South Pier waiting for Mr Ainsley's men to bring off the compasses. They had missed the vessel at the dock. The vessel was going dead slow with her head into the land, about SW. The Renown came out of the harbour and ran into them, striking about amidships. Witness was just going into the forecastle, when he heard the pilot cry out, “Where are you coming to, ease her, stop her, back her," and the vessel immediately afterwards struck the Aberfoyle. The Renown, when his attention was first called to her, was about 15 or 20 feet away on the starboard beam. The Aberfoyle was struck about 11 feet below the main rigging. Butler was in the cabin at the time, and as soon as the mishap occurred, witness ran aft towards the Renown's bow, as everybody else was doing. Butler came out of the cabin and ran towards the Renown. After the Renown had struck she went away, but came in again and touched the Aberfoyle abaft the main rigging. He and Butler then tried to get on the Renown, as several other Aberfoyle men were there. Butler was standing on the upper rail and witness on the lower. Butler was underneath the anchor stock of the Renown, and the stock struck him on the head and knocked him down with his legs partly on board the Aberfoyle. He lay between the Renown's bow and upper rail of the Aberfoyle. Witness stepped back, and the vessels lifted, deceased head was crushed between the rail and the bows. Witness then pulled him on deck or he would have fallen overboard. He was quite dead. Ross “sung out" to the people on the Renown—" You have killed this man.”  He got no reply. The Aberfoyle was run ashore, and deceased was put into a small boat and carried to the tug Knight Templar, and taken away.

[At this stage the inquest was adjourned till Thursday next.]

The task of floating the Aberfoyle off the Herd Sands was entrusted to Messrs Brigham and Cowan, marine engineers, Holborn, South Shields, and on Saturday morning they had everything read, to temporarily mend the breach made by the Renown, but owing to the northerly gale rising the diver was only able to go under water once. When down examining the side of the steamer the diver experienced such a strong under-current that he was obliged to hold on to the ropes all the time, and ere the hole could be stopped below the water line the sea came away, and all hands were compelled to seek safety in the attending tug-boat, as the waves began to wash right over the Aberfoyle. The southern half of the Herd Sands and the beach round the Trow Rocks, as far Frenchman's Bay, are now strewn with the wreckage washed from the Aberfoyle.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 March 1883

Screw Steamer “Aberfoyle”

SALE OF WRECK MATERIAL (principally Wood), upon the Sea Shore, between the South Pier and the Rocks, at South Shields.

T. GLOVER & SON are instructed to SELL the above by AUCTION, on Wednesday, the 28th March, 1883, the hour of 12 o'clock, prompt.

The Wreck belongs to the screw-steamer Aberfoyle, now stranded on the Beach. The Vessel will be sold as then and there lying in a few days. See future Advertisements.

Auction Office, King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 March 1883

Yesterday, the coroner's jury who have inquired into the cause of the death of John Butler, of Tyne Dock, who lost his life at the Renown and Aberfoyle collision, returned an open verdict to the effect that deceased was killed by being crushed between the bow of the Renown and the rail of the Aberfoyle.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 March 1883


Yesterday afternoon, the inquest Into the cause of the death of John Butler, who was killed at sea in the collision between the steamers Aberfoyle and Renown on Friday afternoon, was resumed at Mr Snell's Inn, Tyne Dock, before Mr A. T. Shepherd, deputy-coroner. On this occasion Mr Dodd (of the firm of Leitch, Dodd, and Bramwell) appeared for the owners of the steamer Renown, and Mr Roche, of Sunderland, watched the inquiry on behalf of Captain Dean, of that vessel.

William Ross, seaman on board the Aberfoyle, was re-called, and the evidence which he gave on Monday, and which has already appeared in print, was read over to him. He then gave the following additional evidence: - He did not get on board the Renown. He never left the ship until about 1 30 p.m. on Saturday. One of the firemen was injured at time the accident, and was taken to Newcastle Infirmary. His name was McDougall. The Aberfoyle was run on to the Herd Sand. They were obliged to come out of the wreck on Saturday, at 1 30 p.m. the time of the collision the captain, chief engineer, second mate, carpenter, one seaman, the boatswain, and the pilot got on board the Renown. The captain and pilot and others afterwards came back and ran the vessel ashore. There was nothing happened whilst the Aberfoyle was being run ashore, except that she was filling with water. If Butler had remained on the ship instead of trying to get to the Renown he would have been saved.

By Mr Dodd: They were waiting for the compass adjuster outside. They were dodging about from a quarter to two o'clock till about four for that purpose. They were heading SW at the time of the collision. They had turned the boat round twice, and when coming near the pier the second time the Aberfoyle was travelling about one and a-half miles to two miles an hour. She was a slow boat, and at full steam only travelled about eight miles. They had steerage way. When he first saw the Renown she was from 15 to 20 feet away. The vessels were then almost together. He heard the pilot sing out to draw the Renown's attention. He was going into the forecastle at the time. The Renown was coming from the northwest and right into their beam. The south pier end bore about NW, about three-quarters of a mile away when she was first seen by witness. The South Pier end must have been right astern of her. He could not tell what speed the Renown was making when he first saw her, but she must have been going at a good speed. He could not say exactly what rate. Her engines were reversed after the collision, but he could not say whether they were reversed before. They might have been when he first saw her. She was going more than a knot an hour. He could not say what were the movements of the Abarfoyle's helm previous to the collision. After the collision the mate ordered him to put the helm hard-a-port, and he found it a little starboarded when he got to the wheel. He could not say that she was going round under the starboard helm.

By a Juror: The Aberfoyle's engines were stopped when they found that she was struck.

After some conversation as to the necessity of asking question relating to the movements of the vessels for the purpose of the Inquiry, the Coroner asked for the captain and pilot of the Aberfoyle, and was informed that they were in Newcastle, having said they could not attend owing to other business, and that they were not in charge of the vessel at the time. The Coroner remarked that they should have been present, and then called

Alex. Gowans, chief mate of the Aberfoyle, who said that they got out to sea about 3 15 p.m., and stopped for the compass adjusters about 11/2 miles off the South Pier. He was on the bridge when she stopped. She got on the move again about 3 30 p.m. The chief engineer came up to him and asked him if could set her away a little, so as to work the steam down. He set her away at dead slow and starboarded his helm to turn her round on her own heel. He knew that the adjusters were on board the steamer Pansie. When turned round he saw that vessel proceeding to sea, and concluded that the compass men must have left her. He sent word by the second mate to the captain, and got orders to keep her in to the South Pier, which he obeyed, until he thought he was a reasonable distance from the South Pier buoy. Then he turned her round at about 1/2 to ¾ mile off the buoy. The Aberfoyle was then south of the pier. He saw a steamer come out of the harbour. She was just turning round the pier end. He kept her helm starboard bring her round southward. As the Aberfoyle was on the south side of the channel, he expected the other vessel to cross them on their stern. The Aberfoyle’s engines were still going dead slow. On turning round he saw the steamer coming directly for them. The pilot was on the lower bridge at the time. He asked if the helm was hard-a-starboard, and when he replied that it was, the pilot said "That steamer going run into us," and gave the order for the engines be set at full speed. That was done and the whistle was blown twice. The pilot then sung out " Where are you coming to; are you Intending to run Into us," and also shouted "Stop her; back her; put your  helm starboard, and go under our stern," There was no reply, and the Renown came and struck them with great force the before the main rigging, cutting them right down below the water. He did not see deceased, but knew that he was on board.  He heard, after the collision, that a man was lying dead on the deck, and heard his name. Several of the crew, including the captain and pilot, got on the Renown, and afterwards came back. The vessel was run ashore as she was filling rapidly. They had a fireman hurt. All that remained on board after the collision were saved.

By Mr Dodd: They were dodging about before the collision. They ran out about a mile and a half. They were not under the starboard helm all the time. She ran for a few minutes with the “helm as required“ for the South Pier. They were on the south side of the channel. When he saw the Renown coming out of the harbour they were heading about W by S 1/2 S, or WSW. She was about a mile away. The Renown appeared to be just close to, or rounding the pier. Witness held master's certificate. He knew that when two ships were crossing, that vessel with the other on her own starboard side is to keep out of the way; and that the corresponding duty of the other ship is to keep on her course.

William Dean, master of the Renown, was next called, and said the Renown was 200 yards off South Pier-end buoy, and heading south-east. When he saw that the Aberfoyle kept coming on his course he put his helm hard aport, and blew his whistle, and finding the collision imminent he eased, stopped, and reversed the engines full astern, but before she got stern-way on the steamers collided; the Aberfoyle seemed to be going the faster. The captain and most of the crew of the Aberfoyle came aboard his vessel. He ordered the boats to be lowered to save the crew of the other vessel if necessary. The Renown did not strike against the Aberfoyle a second time. The Aberfoyle came to her when she recovered from the blow. He did not see the man killed, as left the telegraph on the bridge.

By Mr Dodd: If the Aberfoyle had gone full speed ahead and ported when I blew my whistle, there would have been no collision. If she had kept the west course, or had she stopped there would have been no collision.

Mr Dodd said he had present a number of independent witnesses if the Coroner thought it necessary to carry the inquiry any further.

The Coroner thought that they had sufficient evidence as to the cause of death. The other evidence could only be to a matter of opinion as to the cause of the collision. He thought that they had got all the evidence as to the cause of death necessary. He then briefly summed up the evidence, and after a short consultation the jury returned an open verdict that the deceased had met his death by being crushed between the bow of the steamer Renown and the rail of the steamer Aberfoyle in a collision on the 23rd of March.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 30 March 1883

Cargo of COAL and COKE on board the Aberfoyle (s), to be SOLD BY PUBLIC AUCTION, on Tuesday Next, April 3rd, 1883. The vessel is stranded upon the beach at South Shields, on the south side of the pier.

The above will be SOLD directly after the sale of the vessel, viz, 3 o'clock p.m. prompt, at, the Golden Lion Hotel, King Street, South Shields. The original quantity shipped was. Coal 322 tons. Coke 664 tons.

T. GLOVER & SON, Auctioneers, King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 April 1883

Cargo of COAL and COKE on board of the screw-steamer ABERFOYLE, stranded upon the Beach at South Shields, on the South side Of the Pier.

T GLOVER & SON are instructed to SELL the above Cargo BY AUCTION, on Saturday. April 7th, at the Golden Lion Hotel, King Street, South Shields, at the hour of 3 o'Clock prompt. The original quantity shipped was:—Coal, 322 tons, Coke, 664 tons.

Auction Offices, King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 6 April 1883

The Collision on the Tyne

The Renown (s), of Newcastle, which was in collision, at the mouth of the Tyne, yesterday morning, with the Allendale (s), of Sunderland, as reported in our first edition yesterday, is the vessel which run down the Aberfoyle (s), of Aberdeen, off the South Pier, South Shields, last Good Friday. She had come out dock, after extensive repairs, and re-shipped her cargo.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 April 1883