Gale On The North-East Coast

A Vessel Ashore At The South Pier

Within the last few days the weather on the coast has been very unsettled; fierce squally winds have suddenly risen, and have as suddenly subsided again. On Saturday there was a marked change for the better, but towards the evening of that day the skies became overcast, and there arose stiff wind from the NNE, accompanied by showers of rain. A dirty night being expected, the usual lookouts were kept both sides of the harbour, but though the wind continued to blow with more or less violence during the night, no casualties occurred. Yesterday morning, the rain had ceased, and the strong breeze had abated considerably. Towards mid-day, however, it suddenly rose again with renewed strength, and was accompanied by a blinding, drifting rain; and by the middle of the afternoon had assumed the magnitude of a gale. The already angry sea, now assumed an ugly appearance, and fears were entertained that any vessels which might make for the harbour would incur great danger. About a quarter to four o'clock a light brig was seen in the offing, a mile or so to the south of the South Pier. Already the Brigade of South Shields were ready with their rocket apparatus in case of an emergency, and the various lifeboats were waiting. It was observed that the brig was hugging the land much too closely, and that her chances of reaching the harbour in safety was small When about a quarter a mile off the pier, the vessel, which was labouring and straining heavily in a violent cross sea, apparently let go her anchor. A sudden blast, however, immediately dragged her from it, and drove her stern foremost on to the beach. The guns were immediately fired, and were at once the signal for a tremendous rush of spectators to the piers. In a moment all was life and bustle to rescue the crew the hapless vessel from their dangerous situation. The van containing the rocket apparatus was run to a position opposite the brig, and with great promptitude a line was fired in her direction, but fell considerably short; a second, though shot with better aim, proved equally unsuccessful. Further efforts with the rocket apparatus being deemed useless, the four lifeboats put off. Only two, however, succeeded rounding the bar, and only one, “The Tyne," ultimately reached the vessel, after many gallant struggles. The excitement at this juncture was intense. By this time the vessel was broadside on, and the crew could be distinctly seen huddled together in her stern, over which the waves were lashing furiously. Experienced “salts," however, thought their position was not imminently perilous, but the greatest fear and anxiety was felt for the safety of the devoted crew of the lifeboat. Her position was indeed exceedingly dangerous. At one time she would run madly forward on the crest of a gigantic wave, and at another would be drifted swiftly backwards; then her head would be observed clear in the air, and the most breathless anxiety would prevail till she again righted and her gallant crew were again seen straining their oars with true bravery. After a twenty minutes' pull, the boat last neared the vessel. But here its noble mission was well nigh ended by an enormous sea which for sometime completely hid it from view; however, to the great relief of all, she again appeared with her full complement of men, who struggled as manfully as ever. The greatest difficulty was experienced in getting the crew from aboard, and it was not till after half-an-hour had elapsed, during which time the lifeboat ran great risk of being dashed pieces against the wreck, that they were safely landed. The captain, the mate, a seaman, and boy refused to leave the vessel, they believed her to be in a comparatively safe position. The scene on the pier, while the lifeboat was battling with the wares, was of an imposing character. For a considerable distance along the edge of the pier, was a dense mass of spectators, whose anxious peering faces formed the only relief to the long, black line which they formed. The brig turned out to be the Amphitrite, of North Shields, Captain Turnbull, with a crew nine hands all told, on a passage between Niewe Diep and the Tyne, in ballast, built on the Tyne in 1776, is of 306 tons register, and is owned by Wm. Davison, of North Shields. The crew were taken the Coble public house, where they received every attention. It appeared that Captain Turnbull had taken every precaution to withstand the gale, but all his efforts proved futile. When the vessel struck, there was ebb tide, and in the course two or three hours, she was left high and dry. This morning, the vessel remained in the same position, at about high water mark, and out of immediate danger of breaking up. The wind is little abated, and the sea continues very heavy. Great difficulty will be experienced in getting the brig off, and should the present stormy weather hold much longer, the probability is she will have to dismantled. Several vessels made the harbour safety during the night. There have been no sailings from the Tyne since yesterday morning, when a few steamers left.

Source: Shields Gazette and Telegraph 22 April 1872


Wanted, tenders to  FLOAT the brig AMPHRITITE 366 tons register, now lying on the sand, a little to the southward of the South Pier, South Shields, and to move her safely on the Scarp, in the River Tyne.—Apply, immediately, to R. B. Peverley, lnsurance Office, 50 East King Street, South Shields.

The lowest any tender not necessarily accepted.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 23 April 1872