Great destruction of shipping and loss of life
Shipwrecks and loss of ten lives at the mouth of the Tyne
The hurricane blew all yesterday with great fury, shifting the north-east at nightfall. The blinding rain continued without cessation, and the sea, if possible, became more angry than ever. At high water, the greater portion of the piers were literally covered with broken waves, and some idea of the desperate character of the elemental disturbance may be formed when it is stated that wet sand was drifted to considerable distance above the Brigade House, on the South Shields Pier, until it was inches thick, and had quite the appearance of the beach. Seaward the aspect was terribly wild. The naked eye- though there was dim light similar that which may be witnessed the breaking of a dull winter's day—could not penetrate further than the piling at the end of the piers. There was nothing to be seen long streaks of feathery foam, which rose a tremendous height, and fell with booming sound the shore. Thousands of persons visited the piers and bank tops to witness the arrival of vessels; and up to early an early hour this morning, women, anxious for expected friends, were keeping fruitless watch. A few vessels, before dark, made the harbour in safety. The sea, it is said, has not been higher since the memorable wreck the Stanley, and the progress of the vessels which attempted to put in was witnessed with the greatest anxiety. About nine o'clock in the morning, an Italian barque got too far to the north, and was in great peril, but she fortunately succeeded in entering safely. The steam-tug Liverpool, shortly afterwards arrived, and the master reported that he had had in tow the ship Matchless, of Boston, from London for the Tyne, but that had been obliged to cast her off on the Durham Coast. The Matchless, it is supposed, will have got to the north, and will in all probability make for Leith Roads. About half-past eleven, as mentioned in our impression of yesterday, the brig Amble, of Warkworth, coal laden, and another brig, also succeeded in making the port in safety. About twenty minutes past eight o'clock, the alarm guns from the Spanish battery and H.M.S. Castor, announced that a vessel had struck on the north side of the harbour. Soon after the firing of the guns the vessel floated off and drifted across the Herd Sand on the south side of the harbour, where she remained. The alarm guns were again fired, and by this time immense crowds of people thronged the piers. The vessel proved the brig Duff, of and for Portsmouth from Sunderland, coal laden. The crew endeavoured to get out the ship's boat, but in doing so it was washed away with two of the crew, namely, John Bundy, cook, and Thomas Turner, seaman, both believed to have been drowned. The remainder of the crew were taken off the wreck by the North Shields lifeboat Northumberland, and landed at the Sailors' Home, North Shields, where they were provided with dry clothing by the matron, Mrs Coward. When the vessel drifted to the Herd Sands, the Volunteer Life Brigade ran out their lines, but the vessel was too far away for them. The South Shields lifeboats Tom Perry and the Tyne, put off, but the Northumberland succeeded in taking the men off the brig before they reached her. Their names are—Capt. Charles Sims, Bernard Bernard, mate, Jeremiah Rogers, William Henry Amey, and Charles Barrett, seamen. The Duff was a vessel of 165 tons register, and belonged to Portsmouth, also as did the whole of the crew. The captain states that he left Sunderland on Saturday last and was running back to the Tyne for shelter at the time of the occurrence. The men who are missing are both married. The Duff had her mid mast sail set when she struck, and the tide being high, she rolled and pitched in a dangerous manner. The Northumberland lifeboat, which saved the crew, was under the command of Mr Sadler. Mr Sadler's crew reported that they had seen something like a boat drifting rapidly away in the surf, and the South Shields boats pulled about, but discovered nothing. About twenty minutes past eight o'clock the Coastguardsmen at the Spanish Battery saw in the channel a vessel in distress, and the two guns, which is the signal used to indicate that the ship is on the north side, were fired, but no sooner had the guns been responded to by Castor than the three guns showing that the vessel was off the south shore were fired. Lifeboats from the Pilot Landing, South Shields, and the Low Lights were instantly manned, and put off to the rescue the crew of the vessel, which had struck a little to the north of the south pier, but the latter succeeded in reaching the ship first, and took off the crew in safety except one man who was drowned. The vessel proved to be the Jamais, but port and destination are unknown.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 18th of December 1872