The Gale
Shipping Disaster
Stranding of a New Screw
Steamer at South Shields
Great Damage to the South Pier

After a brief lull in the storm, another gale burst over the north-east coast this morning. The weather yesterday was fine and clear with a keen frost, but after dark set in a thick fog hung over the sea beach, and seafaring men were of opinion that more “dirty" weather was approaching. The barometer began to fall at eight o'clock, and about midnight the wind and sea commenced to rise. A good look out was kept for the approach vessels, but nothing serious took place until about half-past five o'clock this morning, when the signal guns from the Spanish Battery and Castor announced that a vessel was in distress at the south side of Shields harbour. The van containing the rocket and life-saving apparatus was run down the pier by several of the members of the Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, but before they reached the spot where the vessel was stranded, the brigadesmen were met by a number of men who had just landed from her. They stated that their vessel was the screw-steamer Breeze, of West Hartlepool, from which place she was bound to the Tyne. The Breeze is quite a new vessel, and was only launched last month from the shipbuilding yard of Mr Withey, at Hartlepool. She left Hartlepool yesterday afternoon on a trial trip previous to entering the Tyne to take a cargo, and had on board upwards of thirty men, including Captain Bowden, ship's husband; Mr Lucas, draughtsman for Mr Withey; Mr W. Richardson, foreman engine builder; the captain of the steamer, and several workmen who were still employed in finishing her and making her ready for sea. The steamer arrived off the Tyne about six o'clock last night, but, in consequence of a thick fog which then prevailed, those in charge thought it prudent to remain at anchor until daylight or until the weather became clearer. Finding, however, that both wind and sea were increasing they attempted to enter the harbour, but owing to the intense darkness of the morning and the blinding showers of sleet, they got too far to the southward, and the steamer came into violent contact with the staging and gearing at the end of the South Pier. The foremast, bridge, and ventilators were completely carried away, and the boats were stove in, and other damage was done by the falling of the heavy balks of timber of which the of the pier is composed. Fortunately, no serious injury was sustained by any the crew, and all the men managed to reach the pier except two, who remained on board. The steamer then drifted through the broken staging, and again floated. Mr Richardson and Mr George Anderson, chief engineer (the men on board), then attempted to navigate the vessel into the river themselves, but they were unable to accomplish the task, and she drove across the harbour until the came ashore on the rocks at Prior's Haven, Tynemouth. Before striking, however, the two were taken off by the North Shields lifeboat "Northumberland, and landed at the Low Lights. They were then taken to the house of Mr H. Robertson, Half Moon Inn and supplied with refreshments and dry clothing. Besides the damage on the deck of the vessel, which presents a contused appearance, she has lost the blades of her propeller, and there is a large hole in the fore part of the ship. When the two men who last left were taken off the steamer she was settling down by the head, her fore compartment being full of water. The valves were eased to allow the steam to escape, and so prevent the possibility of the boilers exploding. The Breeze is owned by Thomas Appleby, Esq. of Hartlepool. Should the weather moderate hopes are entertained that she will be got off. At daylight the steamer was boarded by Matthew Summers, a coastguardsman stationed at Tynemouth, who went to see if there was any person on board. He looked all round without finding anyone, and at once left her. At low tide the vessel is dry. Large numbers of persons have already visited the place where she lies.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 11 December 1874

The Screw Steamer Breeze

The screw-steamer Breeze, which went ashore on the rocks at the north side  of the entrance to the Tyne on Friday, though in a most dangerous position, and having received a great deal of buffetting with the waves, still holds together. Men have been engaged in stripping the vessel, and clearing away the gearing from the pier staging which fell on to her deck. The Breeze has drifted further up the rocks.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 December 1874
Breeze, off the Tyne
Board of Trade Inquiry at Hartlepool

An official inquiry into the circumstances attending the loss of the screw-steamer Breeze, of Hartlepool, was opened at West Hartlepool yesterday. Mr L. V. Hamel, opening the case, said that the Breeze was a  newly-built iron screwsteamer, owned by Messrs Appleby and Ropner, of West Hartlepool, schooner rigged, 220 feet long, 29 feet broad, and 16 feet deep; gross tonnage 1,010, registered 643 tons. She had two compound surface condensing engines of 99 horse-power, and which vessel collided with the South Pier at South Shields on the 10th Dec. and subsequently stranded on the Black Midden Rocks at Tynemouth between five and six a. m., under the following circumstances: —She left Hartlepool about 3-30 p.m.., on her trial trip for the Tyne, with thirty persons on board, including, with the addition of a few riggers, Mr J. R. Holman, the master, who holds a certificate; Mr Charles Bowden, inspector to the owner's firm (also a certified master), who was actually in charge; Mr G. Anderson, chief engineer; and Mr William Richardson, manager to the firm of Messrs Richardson and Sons, who had charge the engines. The weather was fine and clear at starting, and she proceeded at full speed to the Tyne, which they reached a little after seven pm., the weather then being thick, and, under these circumstances, soon after sighting the light the ship was very wisely and properly taken back to Souter Point where she was anchored until about four am. on Friday, when the anchor was got up, and she went away with full speed for the north. It was now dark and the weather thick. A snowstorm obscured the river, yet fall speed appeared to have been continued till nearly five o'clock, when she struck the pier, and carried away the top hawser of the steamer, smashing boat &c. She burst through the staging, among which she remained fixed nearly three quarters of an hour, during which time her crew, with the exception of Mr Richardson and the chief engineer, who were below, scrambled on to the timbers, and the vessel then forced her way through it with these two still board, and ultimately stranded upon the Black Middens where they were taken off by the lifeboat. There was, however, no question as to the management of the engines. Captain Bowden was in charge of the ship and though was not now a seagoing captain, he, in taking charge, and by his actions risking the lives and property, would be as liable as the appointed captain would have had he been in charge of her, and therefore cannot screen himself on that account if blame is found to attach to anyone — After a few witnesses had been examined the court adjourned until today.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 January 1875

The Stranding of the Steamer Breeze

The Board of Trade Inquiry into the stranding of this vessel off the Tyne, was resumed yesterday morning, at West Hartlepool, and again adjourned. The most important evidence was that of Philip J. Messent C.E. to the Tyne Commissioners, who deposed to seeing the pier immediately after the accident. It appeared to have been struck from the SE to the NW. Witness here put in the charts of the harbour, and the plans to show the character of the damage caused. He continued: There were three lights on the North Pier, red, white, and green, visible three or four miles on a clear night. There is light on the Pier, and another red light on the solid part, about half way, on a mast, fifty or sixty feet above high water. It could be seen about 5 miles on a clear night.—By Mr Dodd:-. The lights are sanctioned by the Trinity Houses of London and Newcastle. The minor red light on the North Pier was designed to keep the vessels off the submerged rubble of the South Pier, on which it is built, when taken in line with the Castle light. It is not desirable to have a light on the South Pier, and resolution to that effect (in which he concurred) had been arrived at by the Commissioners. The port bow of the Breeze was damaged by the masonry of the pier, showing that she had run into it from the south-east. The soundings having decreased from 13ft. to 6ft. would indicate the close proximity of the shore, which would bring her inside the line of the pier heads, where there was 15ft rise and fall.—By Mr Young: If the Tynemouth light and the red light the pier are in one, and the harbour lights obscured, a ship coming from the south must use his own discretion as to what to do if he finds himself too far the north. Upon the rubble at the end the South Pier, at lower water, there is only 5ft. depth. At the end of the north pier there is 15ft. low water.—By Admiral Patey: Believed the present arrangement as to the lights was the best, and that the placing of a light on the South Pier unnecessary and impracticable.—The Admiral here expressed his opinion that it was advisable to place a light up the South Pier. —By Mr Dodd On foggy nights, the steam fog-horn on Souter Point was sounded.  When it is, the hand bell is rung. Did not consider it necessary to ring it when the Tynemouth light was visible at two miles, when the loom of the pier was visible at 360yards. —By Captain Ward: Considering the state of the pier and that of the weather, witness did not consider it possible for a ship to go on the north side of the staging, doing the damage she did, and then gone through the staging and out of the south side of the pier, and cross the harbour.—By Mr Pymen: He roughly estimated the at £7,000 irrespective consequential damages.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 January 1875

The Steamer Breeze of Hartlepool
Suspension of Two Captains' Certificates

The inquiry instituted by the Board of Trade into the circumstances attending the stranding of the steamer Breeze, which occurred at the mouth of the Tyne, on the morning of December 11th, was concluded yesterday, at the County Police Station, West Hartlepool, the reading of the decision of the Court, by the clerk (Mr T. Belk). The judgment was to the following effect:—" The Court attribute the collision to a want of proper care and judgment in the navigation the ship; there was only one compass—an ordinary binnacle compass-  which was unfixed hence the deviations could not be properly ascertained, it not being lighted during the night; and there was no evidence to show that there had been the usual signals for calling a pilot on board, neither were any exhibited to show that the ship was in distress, and, therefore, in these respects, the vessel was insufficiently found. Notwithstanding the gradual decrease of soundings shown by the lead, and the lights being obscured, no signals were given, but full speed was sustained. The ship could evidently have remained longer outside, she could have entered the harbour between 9 p.m. and midnight in safety, when the lights were visible and the night clear. The court was therefore of opinion that the Breeze was stranded by default of Captain Holman, and hence they adjudged that his certificate of competency should be suspended for a period of six months. It was with reluctance that this court had come to the decision, because he appeared to have been under the impression that he was relieved of all responsibility by the fact that Captain Bowden was on board as superintendent of the owners, but the court could not allow this as any extenuation. They also found that Captain Bowden was to blame for allowing the ship to go to sea without properly adjusted compasses, more especially at the season of the year. The Court were therefore unanimous in suspending his certificate also for six months; the court granted to Captain permission to act as mate.”

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 12 January 1875

12 January 1875

On the morning of the 11th December 1874 the screw steamer “Breeze” steamed through the advanced staging diagonally from SE to NW destroying a length of nearly 300 feet which has prevented any further progress with the pier walls.

11 January 1876

The Secretary reported that the sum of £6,000 amount as agreed upon of the damage sustained to the South Pier Works from the S.S. “Breeze” in December 1874 had been paid to the Commissioners.

Source: Piers Committee Minutes

The Stranding of the Hartlepool Steamer Breeze

The Piers Committee reported that the acting engineer's monthly report stated that owing to the boisterous and frosty weather, but little work had been done at the ends of the or in the building yards. On the morning of the 11th December the screw steamer Breeze steamed through the advanced staging of the South Pier, destroying a length of nearly 30 feet. The secretary had reported that, hearing the Board of Trade intended holding an inquiry at Hartlepool into the circumstances of the stranding of the Breeze, had caused the Commissioners to be represented by a solicitor, who watched the case on their behalf.

Mr Robinson, in moving the adoption of the report, said that the stranding of the Breeze was due to the constant pilot system. The owners the steamer telegraphed to Shields for a pilot, who, under the present system, waited inside the bar instead of going to sea./pr>

Mr J. C. Stevenson, M P., thought they should recognise the diligence which had been exercised by Messrs Guthrie and Messant in having the Commissioners represented at the inquiry. Although the accident was due to those in charge of the ship, there was a chance that it would be made out that it was owing to want of lights at Tynemouth, and had it not been for the action of Messrs Guthrie and Messent the Commissioners, he was afraid, would have had the blame attached to them. He moved that a minute pressing approval of the action of Messrs Guthrie and Messant.

The report was confirmed, and Mr Stevenson's motion agreed to.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 15 January 1875