Collision at the Tyne Entrance
Barquentine Sunk
Crew Rescued from the Rigging
Captain’s Narrow Escape

In the early hours of this morning the alarm guns were fired indicating that some vessel was in distress at the mouth of the Tyne.  At the time the weather was extremely boisterous, there being a strong wind blowing and a terrific fall of rain. Many of the people residing in the vicinity of the Lawe were roused from their slumbers by the booming of the guns. Nothing could be gleaned, however, for some considerable time as to what had exactly happened, and definite particulars were not obtained until Captain Halvorsen and the crew of seven hands belonging to the barquentine Atrato were landed at North Shields, and taken to Tyne Sailors' Home.

They were there interviewed by a Gazette representative. The men, it transpired, had an extremely narrow escape with their lives. In answer to inquiries they were unaware of the name of the steamer which had collided with their vessel. The Atrato, which was a regular Shields trader, had arrived off the mouth of the harbour shortly before midnight from Newhaven, bound to Howdon Cement Works, laden with a cargo of chalk. The Shields tug Selina had come to offer her services, to tow the Atrato into the harbour. The tug had come round to the leeside of the barquentine and had just got a heaving line out with the object of getting the hawser on board when the unknown steamer, which was outward bound, collided with the sailing vessel. The impact was such that the Atrato received extensive damage to her starboard bow and it was at once apparent that she could not long remain afloat.

The steamer rebounded, and again struck the barquentine's bowsprit, causing a good deal of wreckage to fall upon the deck. The Atrato at once began to settle down, and foundered within a few minutes from the time she was struck. During the brief period she remained above water, there was naturally a good deal of excitement among the crew. There was a rush for the jolly boat which was lying on the deck of the Atrato, but the fastenings of the boat could not be released, there was no other course for the crew but to take to the rigging. As they clambered up the water kept gaining on them, and they all reached a position of comparative safety except the captain, who got entangled in the rattlins, and failed to reach his companions.

The suction of the vessel had the effect of drawing Captain Halvorsen under, and he was lost sight of. Being a good swimmer, however, he was able to keep himself afloat. In this he was assisted by seizing a ladder which was floating about and was eventually picked up by the tug Selina. The remainder of the crew were taken off the rigging by a pilot coble and afterwards landed. The men were extremely pleased to find the captain had been saved, for they had given him up for lost, and he seemed little the worse for unpleasant experience.

The vessel which was in collision with the Atrato proved to the Sunderland steamer Lord Aberdeen, which was bound from Howdon Dock to Hamburg, coal laden. The Lord Aberdeen subsequently put back to the Tyne, and made fast to the Stanhope Buoys, South Shields. It is feared that she has sustained damage, but to what extent is yet not ascertained.

The Atrato was owned in Newhaven by Mr Bannister, built at Kingston, Sussex, in 1863, and was 256 tons register.

The Captain’s Narrative

From a statement made the captain of the Atrato, who lives in Percy Street, North Shields, it seems that his vessel was preparing to tow into the harbour, and some of the crew were engaged hauling the tow line aboard when the lights of the Lord Aberdeen were observed. .Before anything could be done to avert a collision, the steamer struck the starboard bow. Immediately the barquentine began to settle down. Fortunately all hands were on deck the time and an effort was made to launch the boats. To do this, however, was found impossible, for the vessel sank within three minutes of the collision. The captain was thrown into the water, and it was feared by the rest the crew that he would be drowned. Happily he seized hold of a ladder, and was eventually picked up. The rest of the hands appeared to have taken to the rigging and were rescued the men of the tug Salina and the pilot coble.

Atrato carried a crew of eight hands all told, and they were all landed at Tyne Sailors' Home, where they were provided with dry clothing by the Shipwrecked Fishermens and Mariners' Society.

The crew this morning appear to have thoroughly recovered from their thrilling experience, although the boatswain is still in rather weak state.

Further Particulars

Story of the Rescue

Mr James Purvis, pilot, residing at Julian Street, and his apprentice, Thos. William Stephenson, were fortunately not far from the scene of the casualty in their coble, and they lost no time in pulling towards the wreck shortly after it went down, and rescuing the seven men from the main rigging. It was found no easy matter to get the men off the rigging into the boat as there was a strong south south-east gale and a strong sea running. The seven men were compelled to leap from the rigging into the boat, this being done at considerable risk. One of the men in trying to reach the coble fell overboard, but was promptly rescued. The Selina took the coble in tow, and when in the “Narrows”, the men were put aboard the Selina, and landed at North Shields.

Danger to Navigation

The wreck of the Atrato is beyond doubt a serious danger to navigation, especially to outward bound vessels, as she lies south of mid-channel. Her topsail yards are submerged at high water. The harbour authorities are taking special precautions to warn approaching vessels of the sunken wreck, and there will be a light vessel placed at the wreck till it is removed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 May 1902

The Sunken Barquentine Atrato

Yesterday, during the prevalence of a strong wind from the N.NE, and rough sea, the barquentine Atrato, which was sunk through collision near the end of the south pier at the entrance to the Tyne a few days ago, began to break up. The masts disappeared, and spars were to be seen drifting about the sea. As the hull of the sunken vessel lay entirely under water, she was thus lost to view. The steam-tug Electric kept moving about the locality to warn ships to keep clear of the wreck, which is in an awkward position for vessels leaving the harbour.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21May 1902


THE TYNE IMPROVEMENT COMMISSIONERS HEREBY GIVE NOTICE that in pursuance of the powers vested in them by the Harbours, Dock and Piers Causes Act, 1847; The Merchant Shipping Act 1894; The Tyne Improvement Acts, 1850 to 1898; and every other Act enabling them in that behalf , have taken possession of, and it is their intention to raise, remove, destroy, sell break up, or otherwise, disposed of, as they see fit, the wreck of the above named vessel; and its cargo and stores, and other appurtenances, now sunk between the North and South Piers at the entrance to the River Tyne, and which is an obstruction to the navigation of the said river.

By Order


Tyne Improvement Commission Offices,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 21st May, 1902

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 May 1902     

The Wreck of the Atrato

The harbour authorities are now taking measures to remove the partly submerged hull of the barquentine Atrato, which was sunk in collision with the steamer Lord Aberdeen between the Tyne Piers. Already a large portion of the hull has been dispersed by dynamite, and it is expected in day or two the wreckage will be entirely removed, and the danger to navigation to vessels outward bound removed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 28 May 1902

A Tyne Collision Case

The Owners of the Atrato v. The Owners the Lord Aberdeen.—
Yesterday (Wednesday), in the Admiralty Division of the High Court, the President (Sir F. Jeune), sitting with Trinity Masters, had before him this claim and counter-claim for damages arising out of a collision between the barquentine Atrato, of Newhaven, and the steamer Lord Aberdeen, of Sunderland, in the River Tyne near the South Pier head, on the evening of May 16th last. As the result of the impact the barquentine sank, while considerable damage was sustained by the steamer. The Atrato at the time was on a voyage from Newhaven to Howdon, with a cargo of chalk; and the Lord Aberdeen was bound from Howdon Dock to Hamburg, laden with coal. The weather was rainy, but clear, and the wind a moderate breeze from the SSE. According to the plaintiffs' case, at about 11-20 p.m. on the date stated, the Atrato was rounding into the river under steady starboard helm, keeping a course to pass as close as possible to the buoy abreast of the pier head, and to the southward of some small steamers which were leaving the river to the northward of her. She was under lower topsail, and foretopmast stay sail, and was making about 2 1/2 knots through the water. The Atrato had been driven to the westward in trying to make fast to her tug, but the hawser had slipped owing to the heavy sea, and the tug was following her astern in order to make fast higher up the river. In these circumstances, those on the barquentine observed over the South Pier, the masthead light of the Lord Aberdeen coming down the river, distant about half a mile, and bearing two points on the port bow. The Atrato kept her course slowly rounding the buoy under a starboard helm, and steadied heading up the river a short distance from the pier. As the barquentine drew clear of the pier, she saw the green light of the Lord Aberdeen on her starboard bow. The green light of the steamer broadened and the vessels continued approach in a position to pass safety starboard side to starboard side, but when a short distance off, the Lord Aberdeen suddenly ported her helm, shutting in her green and opening her red light, and coming at considerable speed, her stem struck the Atrato on the starboard bow, throwing her topsail aback and doing her so much damage that she sank.

The defendants' case, on the other hand, was as follows;— The Lord Aberdeen was proceeding down the river entrance to the southward of mid-channel in a position to pass out clear of the South Pier, when the red light of the Atrato was sighted some 300 or  400 yards distant, and bearing two points on the starboard bow. Thereupon one short blast was sounded of the whistle of the Lord Aberdeen and her helm was ported and hard-a-ported. Thus the vessels were in a position to pass port to port in safety, when the Atrato suddenly shut in her red light and opened her green, apparently under a starboard helm. The engines of the Lord Aberdeen were at once stopped and reversed full speed, but the coming on, the collision happened.

Mr B. Aspinall K.C., and Mr Batten, appeared for the plaintiff's, and Mr F. Laing, K.C, and Mr A. Roche for the defendants.

The case had not concluded when the Court rose.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 July 1902

The Sinking of the Atrato
Lord Aberdeen Not to Blame

The Owners or the Atrato v. The Owners of the Lord Aberdeen.—
Yesterday ( Thursday), in the Admiralty Division of the High Court, the President (Sir F. Jeune), sitting with Trinity Masters, gave judgment in this claim and counter-claim for damages arising out of the collision between the Newhaven barquentine Atrato and the Sunderland steamship Lord Aberdeen, and which resulted in the sinking the barquentine. The casualty occurred in the River near the South Pier head on the evening of May 16th last, when the Atrato was inward bound from Newhaven with a cargo of chalk and the Lord Aberdeen was proceeding out bound for Hamburg with coals. The plaintiffs alleged that the Lord Aberdeen improperly ported when the vessels were a position to pass safely starboard to starboard. The defendants, on the other hand, pleaded that the barquentine neglected to keep her course and speed, and was on the south side—her wrong side the river.

Mr Aspinall, K.C, and Mr L. Batten appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr F. Laing. K.C. and A. Roche for the defendants.

His Lordship, in the course of his judgment, said there was no doubt that as the Atrato rounded the buoy abreast the South Pier head, she would show her green light. The question therefore was, whether the steamer ported then or at an earlier period, when the red light would be open to her. On the facts it appeared to him that the Lord Aberdeen ported when she saw the red light, and this she was perfectly justified in doing. In his opinion there was nothing in the conduct of the Lord Aberdeen with which fault could be found. She ported, and then afterwards, when she saw the Atrato coming round, she gave three blasts and reversed her engines. The Atrato for some reason or another was guilty of a very obvious breach of a Tyne rule - not coming up the north side the river. She thought it easier to come sharply round and keep alongside the South Pier. That might be a very convenient course, but it was the wrong one. No fault could be found with the steamer, and he must therefore pronounce the Atrato alone to blame for the collision.

Judgment accordingly for the defendants with costs.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 18 July 1902

"Three Indian Kings', Court Hotel,'' Quayside,
ON THURSDAY, AUG. 7th. 1902,AT 3 P.M.


Lot 1.—Consists one the Wreck of the s.s. "Dorothy" including Funnel lying on the foreshore near the wreck; one Mizen Mast, and one Anchor Jetty.

Lot 2.—Consists of Eighty Tons (more or less) of Granite Chips salved from the wreck of the s.s. “Dorothy."

Lot 3.—Consists of Two Bow Lamps, One Steam Masthead Lamp, One Masthead Riding Lamp, and Two Red Globe Lamps, part of the appurtenances the wreck of the s.s.” Dorothy."


Lot 4.—Consists of One Main Mast, One Mizzen Mast,, One Bowsprit, One Main Boom, One Fore Boom, One Fore Yard, One Fore Topsail One Fore Topmast, and a Quantity of Wood Wreckage with Iron Bolts in same.

Lot 5.— Consists of about One Ton of Iron and Sundry Wire Rigging.

Lot 6.—Consists one cwt., three qrs., nine lbs. of Muntz Metal.

Lot 7.—Consists of a  quantity of old Wire Rope with Two Block and Shackles attached, One Iron Knee, and One Wood Hatch about 6 feet square by 2ft. deep, and One Iron Ventilator Pipe about 2ft. long, 9in. diameter.

Lot 8.—Sundry Lot of Deck Deals and Beams.


Lot 9.—Consists of the Wherry " Jane."

Lot 10 – Consists of a  Quantity of Firebricks, salved from the wreck of the “Jane," stamped “Ramsay”.

The goods to be offered for sale are now lying at the undermentioned places, viz.:— Lots 1 and 2 in the Wave Trap at the Narrows, South Shields. Lots 3, 4, 5, and 6 at the South Pier Works, South Shields. Lots 7 and the Commissioners' Yard, Howdon-on-Tyne. Lots 9 and 10 on the foreshore at the west side of the mouth of the River Derwent.

For further particulars and conditions of sale apply to the Auctioneers, Estate and Auction Offices, 81 Charlotte Street, North Shields, or to Messrs Bramwell & Bell, Solicitors, Maritime Buildings, King Street, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and 64 Saville Street, North Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 August 1902