Almost before the Tyne had gone down a third screw-steamer was seen making for the harbour. As she came into the south pier it was seen that she was running dead on to the wreck that had occurred only a few minutes before. She had been dashed out of her course by another fearful sea and had struck the end of the pier, while a second one had swung her off again. Those on shore shouted with all their might for her to keep clear of the wreck, the captain of the ship must have understood their warnings and seen the danger at once, for with splendid seamanship he sent the vessel into a safe place by the south of the pier, narrowly missing the stern of the Tyne. He cleared it however by a few feet, and the vessel was stranded just a few feet astern of the first vessel. This last vessel turned out to be the steamer Fenella, Capt. Stewart, from London. The lines were at once thrown to the ship, but the captain and crew, thinking the vessel lay in a safe place chose to remain on board.
Source: Shields Gazette 21 December 1876
Wreck of the "Fenella"
Just before the Tyne had gone down, a third screw-steamer was seen making for the harbour. As she came in to the south pier, it was seen that 'she was running dead on to the wreck that had occurred only a few minutes before. She had been dashed out of her course, by another fearful sea, and had struck the end of the pier, while second one had swung her off again. Those on shore shouted with all their might for her to keep clear of the wreck. The captain of the ship must have understood their warnings and seen the danger at once, for with splendid seamanship he sent the vessel into a safe place by the south of the pier, narrowly missing the stern of the Tyne. He cleared it, however, by a few feet, and the vessel was stranded just a few feet astern of the first vessel. This vessel turned out to be the screw-steamer Fenella, from London. The lines were at once thrown to the ship, but the captain and the crew, thinking the vessel lay in a safe place, chose to remain on board the vessel.
Source Northern Echo 22nd December 1876
Floating of Two Stranded Vessels at South Shields.
Two of the stranded vessels at South Shields, namely, the screw-steamer Fenella, of London, and brig Marys, of Whitby, were successfully floated and taken, into Shields harbour, at an early hour, this morning. An attempt was also made to get the steamship Herman Sauber off, but this proved futile. The weather yesterday had so far moderated that the sea was quite smooth and the westerly breeze had swelled the neap tides very considerably, both circumstances favourable to the floating of the vessels. A tug steamer got hold of the brig, which lay on the Herd Sand, near the Fish Pier, and about ten minutes after midnight she floated off. This vessel went ashore at half-past three o’clock on Christmas morning, and was the last that came to grief in entering the Tyne during the prevalence of the storm. Before twelve o’clock three powerful tugs got towlines away from the stern of the Fenella, which lay on the south side of the South Pier, near the Claremont and Herman Sauber, and the windlass was attached to a chain fastened to an anchor east of the steamer. In addition to these appliances the steamer's propeller was put in motion to drive the vessel astern, and by means of the combined power, she commenced about half-past twelve to move slightly seaward. Every now and again she was shifted in this direction, until quarter past one o'clock, when she was finally afloat, amid the hearty cheers of the large number of men employed in the operation. The attempt to float the Herman Sauber will be renewed this afternoon, and it is stated that the same will be done with the Claremont. This morning, a number of salvors were at work picking up the anchors, chains, &tc., left by the Fenella. The sea is still placid, and a large fleet of sailing vessels left the Tyne this forenoon.
Source: Shields Gazette 29 December 1876
The staging and cranes have suffered severe damage from vessels running into them.
The first was the schooner “Russell” which in the middle of the night of the 15th December in a South East Gale ran onto the South Slope of the South Pier- onto which the crew escaped- she was afterwards driven through the staging from the south to north breaking 18 piles which with the framework supported two large travelling cranes and which were consequently thrown down and broken, the two bells and machinery being submerged. Three of the remaining cranes left in danger were brought from the south to the north side for safety.
On the night of the 20th and morning of the 21st the gale and sea still increasing the screw steamer “Tyne” which became a total wreck with loss of all hands and the steamer “Fenella” afterwards stranded-went through the outer staging from NE to SW throwing down about 125 feet of completed staging with some framing still left hanging from the damage of the “Russell”.
In the afternoon of the same day the screw steamer “Blenheim” of Hartlepool came over the rubble base side on to the end of the masonary when she broke in two one half going to the south and the other to the north of the Pier and drifted against the remaining north piles alongside the finished work breaking them and throwing down the three cranes that had been placed there for safety when saved from the wreck of the “Russell”. The sea on this day was terrific.
Source: Piers Committee 9 January 1877
Old Stories Told
The Wreck of the Tyne
All day on Wednesday, Dec. 20th 1876, a fierce gale from the south-east raged on the north-east coast, rushing the Tyne Piers with angry mountains of sea, and lining the shore with one white belt of foam. The rain was continuous and blinding, and the grey dull sky overhanging the whole scene made the seaward prospect a very depressing one. During the day a few vessels came into port, making the bar successfully; but the greatest anxiety was felt for several vessels that were known to have left London for Shields and that would probably arrive that night. Towards midnight the wind abated slightly violence, but the sea was running very high on the bar.
About ten minutes to two in the morning the look-out man at the Watch House on the South Pier reported a vessel in sight. She was observed to be making very heavy weather, her masthead lights going well down to one side. Suddenly she was seen to waver in her course: a heavy wave seemed to strike her and instead of the red light she showed the green, thus plainly indicating that she had been completely turned round by the force of the waves. The men watching her noticed that she did not recover so rapidly as might have been expected and a few of them at once ran down the pier The vessel by this time had got down to the south of the pier and was coming on the beach. Upon seeing this the brigade men proceeded to get the rocket apparatus and gear down the pier.
In the very act of doing so they were called by their mates on the pier, and rushing down with a promptness that could not be too highly lauded got the rocket and the van right abreast of the vessel as soon as the first guns were fired from Spanish Battery and answered by the guns of the Castor. The whole action of the brigade in this emergency was admirable, as may be seen from the fact that before the last gun of the Castor had boomed the first rocket was prepared to be fired. The first rocket line fell fairly amidships of the vessel, but hung on to the stays where it could not be reached. A second line was fired, which fell abaft the mainmast; but at last a line was secured and hawser drawn on board.
By this time It became known that the vessel was the Claremont, of Newcastle, commanded by Captain Worth. She was from Hull and bound to the Tyne in ballast. At three o'clock, when communication had been effected, the pilots were launching the Willie Wouldhave lifeboat at the south side of the pier, with the view of getting the crew off by that means. The brigadesmen were indefatigable in their endeavours, and the delay seemed to be on board, owing to the terrific sea that was running. Shortly after three o'clock the wife and child of the second engineer, Harvey, were safely brought ashore by means of the apparatus; the poor woman and her little boy being very much frightened. Then one by one the crew, consisting of 20 hands, were all landed safely on the pier and taken to the Brigade House, where they were kindly and tenderly treated.
It appears that the Claremont left Hull about eight o'clock on the Tuesday night, and when off Flamborough Head she was overtaken by the gale, and ran before it until noon on the Wednesday, when off the Tyne, the tremendous gale making her labour heavily. When the wind went down the master attempted to enter the river, and when in the fairway for the harbour a succession of heavy seas struck her on the starboard bow, and rendered her unmanageable. The helm was hard-a-port to clear the pier end, but she would not answer, and was in great danger of striking the pier, Captain Worth put the helm hard a starboard to run her on the beach, when she was seen by the brigade. The Claremont was a vessel of 700 tons register, and belonged to Mr Wilson, of Newcastle, the son of the owner being chief engineer. She was almost a new vessel.
So happily ended the first calamity; but while all this was in progress the sea seemed to be increasing in violence, though the wind had somewhat abated. Between five and six o'clock, a light was discerned on the horizon far to the south. It was steadily watched as the other had been, and preparations for equal promptitude were made. . The light approached, and another large steamer was seen to making for the harbour. All appeared well with her till, on rounding the pier, a terrific sea caught her, and twisted her out of her course, and she struck with a tremendous crash upon the end of the pier. She proved the screw-steamer Tyne, Captain Lawlan, of North Shields. Once more the signal guns boomed out the startling, and as in this case proved fatal tidings, for not a single soul of all her hands but what perished in that sea.
The vessel seemed be very deep in the water, and appeared in a sinking condition. It was evident that she would soon go down. The most active attempts at rescue that ever mortal man could achieve were at once endeavoured. The apparatus was brought down instantly, but nothing could avert such an appalling fatality. Rocket after rocket was fired, while the ship settled down under the very eyes of the brigadesmen who were striving with heart and soul to save the crew. The men took to the rigging at once, and again and again the lines were fired to them. At this time the guns had brought vast crowd to the piers, and this somewhat impeded the action of the brigadesmen, but nevertheless they continued to fire the rockets over the fast sinking ship.
It was about half-past five now, and a faint grey glimmer of the coming day enabled those at the pier to see the outline of the vessel's rigging with the poor fellows clinging to it. Their cries were simply heartrendering, and words can give the faintest idea of those fearful shrieks of doomed men. The waves ran half-mast high over the vessel, and one by one they were washed off. At last the continued seas smashed away the funnel, and next the stays and mainmast gave way. Still the poor fellows clung desperately to the rigging, and all the time piercing cries for and of despair made every heart on the pier sad. Nothing could be done; no lifeboat could live for a single moment in such a sea; while the brigade men tried their hardest and their utmost, the Tyne went down, and every one of the crew were engulfed in the awful sea. Above the howling of the wind and waves could be heard the cries of the drowning men, but only for a few seconds, and then all sounds ceased; and all eyes were turned to another approaching calamity.
Almost before the Tyne had gone down, a third steamer was seen making for the harbour. As she came in to South Pier, it was seen that she was running dead on to the wreck that had occurred only a few minutes before. She had been dashed out of her course by another fearful sea and had struck the end of the pier, while a second wave had swung her off again. Those on shouted with all their might to keep clear of the wreck. The captain of the ship must have understood their warnings and seen the danger once, for with splendid seamanship he sent the vessel into a safe place by the south of the pier, narrowly missing the stern of the Tyne. He cleared it, however, a few feet, and the vessel was stranded just astern of the Claremont. She turned out to be the screw steamer Fenella from London.
The lines were once thrown to the ship, but the captain and crew, thinking the vessel lay on a safe place, choose to remain on board. Just at this time the body of Captain Lawlan was washed ashore, and conveyed at once to the Brigade House, where every effort was made to restore animation, but Dr. Crease, who was present, examined the body, and pronounced it to be lifeless. The head and face of the captain was fearfully bruised and battered, and presented a shocking appearance. An accident happened during the night to one of the river policemen, who was assisting the brigademen. He fell over the rocks and broke his leg. Two of the brigademen were also slightly injured.
With regard to the sinking of the Tyne, further harrowing details are given. Not only were men holding on to her rigging, but several poor fellows were seen clinging to the funnel, till the heat of it burned their fingers, and they had to drop off. Six or seven clung to the mainmast, which, first of all, went by the board, the sea swallowing them up instantly. The foremast next went but none of the men were upon this. On the mizzenmast two poor fellows were hanging on as the Fenella can by, and it was piteous to hear the cry they gave to the captain to throw a rope to them, and it must have been equally piteous to the captain to be powerless to do anything for them. But so it was. After dexterously clearing the stern of the wreck, the Fenella put full steam ahead, and ran far up into the sand. The lifeboat was tried to be launched, but the sea was too heavy.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 15 October 1904