The weather on the north-east coast brig ashore at South Shields
Last night, we received the. following telegram, dated 7 30 p.m., from the Meteorological Office, London:—" Barometer rising in Norway, but falling on our western coasts; hoist south cone, for south-easterly gale." The weather during the day had been exceedingly cold, and towards dusk the sky had a threatening appearance, the dull leaden clouds foreboding wind and rain. The evening, however, passed without any material change in the weather, and it was not until the early hours of this morning that the wind attained any force. The weather could not be described as stormy though a fresh breeze from the ESE was blowing, and the sea was rather turbulent. The wind was favourable to sailing ships entering the Tyne, and several got safely even without the assistance steam-tugs. Nothing unusual occurred until about four o'clock this morning, shortly before high tide, when a sailing vessel was seen approaching the harbour. Just as she neared the entrance a shower of sleet commenced, and being too close in shore she missed stays in endeavouring to weather the end of the South Pier, and drove upon that structure, striking heavily upon the rocks. Humphrey Ashton, of the Coastguard, had watched the progress of the vessel, and was near the Trow Rocks when he saw that she was in danger. He hurried to the Pier, went along abreast of the vessel, and “sung out" to the crew that they would be all right in about ten minutes. His blue light, however, missed fire, and this caused a little delay in giving the signal for the firing of the alarm guns. Ashton and Alex. Purvis, the pier policeman, called up the chief-officer, Hart, and the remainder of the coastguard crew, as well as the persons living in the cottages near the South Pier. With their assistance the rocket-van was run down the pier, and placed abreast of the vessel, communication being obtained with the heaving cane. In the meantime, however, the crew had left the vessel in their own boat, and were picked up by the steam-tug Express, and landed at the Mill Dam. They subsequently went down the pier, and were made comfortable in the Brigade Watch House, were dry clothing and hot coffee were ready for them. It was then ascertained that the vessel was the brig Excel, of Swansea, bound from London for the Tyne with chalk ballast. She carried a crew of eight hands all told. The vessel is not insured. She lies upon the side the pier, and is badly holed, and the rudder is gone. This morning the crew are engaged unbending sails and landing the stores, it being feared that the vessel will go to pieces. The weather was not so stormy as to necessitate a watch being kept the Brigade House, but the firing of the alarm guns soon brought together a number of volunteers. Happily, however, their services were not required.
Source Shields Daily Gazette 24th of March 1884