S. S. Fairy

Collision in the Tyne
Steamer Run Down Between the Piers
Beached on the Herd Sands

In the early hours of this morning the inhabitants of the harbour borough were aroused by the booming of guns at the mouth of the Tyne and the three successive reports brought some scores of people down to the beach. The coastguardsmen(under the command of Chief Inspector Collins) having become aware that a steamer was in distress as the result of a serious collision between the piers, lost no time in firing the distress signals, and having the rocket apparatus in complete readiness to render what aid was necessary.
The morning was calm, with a gentle breeze, and the atmosphere was clear when the two vessels clashed together. They subsequently proved to be the small coasting steamer Fairy and the Spanish steamer Mar-Negro. The former was entering the Tyne from Sunderland laden with part cargo of twine, bound for Newcastle and the latter was outward bound laden with coal.

The Fairy was struck with terrific force on the port quarter, the most tender part of the hull, where the propelling machinery is situated. Consequently, there were fears that the engine-room department would soon become flooded. This fear was justified, as the plates were penetrated by the Spanish steamer’s bows, which made a huge gap scarcely six inches above the water line.  So the position of the Fairy was one of extreme danger for some time.

The captain of the Mar-Negro luckily kept his vessel steaming ahead, this having the desired effect of keeping her bows well in the breach of the Fairy’s side and preventing her from going down at once, as no doubt she would have done had this not been done.

The vessels eventually drifted apart from each other. The condition of the Fairy was such that it was realised that if she was not run ashore she would in all probability go quickly to the bottom. The master, Captain Gibson, a deck officer, W. Groom and the second engineer, Alfred Riches, were not to be seen, and the responsibility of running the steamer aground was left in the hands of two of the able seaman, Geo. Hawn and William Harrod. Water was gushing through the breach in large quantities and was beginning to cover the engine-room plates Luckily it did not reach the fire, and there was sufficient steam left to keep the engines going full speed till the Fairy was safely beached on the herd sands, midway between the South Pier and the Groyne pier Lighthouse.

Chief Coastguardsman Collins and his men fired a rocket over the stranded vessel, but the breeches buoy was not used, as the crew were now out of danger. The first South Shields Volunteer life brigadesman who turned out in answer to the distress signal was Lifebrigadesman Wilson who assisted Coastguardsman Collins to launch a small boat and board the Fairy. Subsequently, Captains Buckland and Grimes with a number of others arrived on the scene to render what help might be required.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 11 July 1908