Fog on the Coast
Disaster off South Pier
A Steamer Sunk
Narrow Escapes

During the prevalence of a dense fog this morning, a disastrous collision occurred off the South Pier. Between ten and eleven o'clock the steamer Greenwood, of London, Captain Wilson, inward bound from London, foundered just off the end of the South Pier Lighthouse, after collision with another steamer, whose name is at present unknown. The Greenwood foundered so rapidly that several of the men had to jump for their lives on board the colliding vessel, while others were rescued by a tug and a foyboat. The Greenwood is entirely under water, only her masts and funnel being visible.
Writing later, our shipping reporter says:—The vessel which was in collision with the Greenwood proved to be the huge tank steamer Bulysses, owned by Samuel & Co, whose vessels trade under the title of the Shell and Transport Trading Company. The Bulysses is one of the largest oil tank steamers afloat, having been recently built by Sir Wm. Armstrong, Whitworth Co., and only left the Tyne this morning, laden with about 10,000 tons of coal on her maiden trip, her port of destination being Alexandria, afterwards trading out East. The Bulysses is the fourth tank steamer which has loaded coal in the Tyne.

Later Particulars

An Exciting Scene

The crew of the Greenwood, who were subsequently brought to the Mill Dam, are in the unfortunate position of having lost every particle of clothing. The Greenwood was in ballast from London bound for the Tyne when the casualty occurred. The crew, in the interview with a representative of the Gazette, described the weather as exceedingly foggy. The Greenwood was in the vicinity of the South Pier, when suddenly the big steamer Bulysses came crashing into her broadside, in No. 2 hold on the fore part of the bridge. The water immediately began to pour in. There was a good swell prevailing and the Bulysses was sent rolling against the Greenwood.

It was quite clear that the Greenwood would not remain long afloat, and the alarm was raised from the other ship for the crew to save their lives. The steamer within a few minutes from the collision began to heel over. A young man belonging to Whitley, who had come down with the Greenwood on a pleasure trip, attempted to get up the Bulysses' bows by means of a rope which had been thrown over. He failed in his endeavour to reach the forecastle of the big tanker and was seen to be in a dangerous position, as any moment he might have been crushed between the two vessels. Captain Wilson observing the critical position of the passenger, ran along the monkey "bridge”, and successfully cleared all obstacles and landed safely on the forecastle head of the Bulysses. He promptly seized the passenger, who was then clinging to the rope over the Bulysses bows and dragged him out of danger, not a moment too soon.

Several of the crew of the Greenwood reached the Bulysses by scrambling over her bows, when the steamers, were rolling close to each other through the swell. The chief mate, Mr Miller, the second mate, second engineer, and one of the seamen were not so fortunate as to get on board the Bulysses like the rest of the ship's company, their escape having been completely cut off when the vessels parted. A tugboat which had been in attendance upon the Bulysses, put a tow line aboard the Greenwood and towed her clear of the fairway of the navigable channel and the remainder of the crew were safely taken off. The Greenwood, it is calculated, settled down within a quarter of an hour after the collision. She was a constant trader to Shields, and was owned by Mr James E. Tully, Newcastle. She was built in 1869 at Jarrow, and was 928 tons gross register.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 August 1900

The Collision off the Tyne
The Bulysses on Trial

The tank steamer Bulysses, which was in collision with the Greenwood, which foundered off the South Pier end, yesterday morning, returned to Jarrow Slake the same evening, in order that it might be seen if any damage had been done to her bows. On examination, it was found not the slightest damage had been sustained, and tee Bulysses left the river this morning. She will run over the measured mile on her official trial trip to-day, the weather was too foggy yesterday to allow the vessel to be tested on her speed trials while utilising the patent oil jets. The Bulysses will return again to Jarrow to-night, and is expected to take her departure on Thursday, bound for Alexandria. The Bulysses will subsequently proceed out to Batoum. She is laden with 7,200 tons of coal, and 1,200 tons of bunkers. She is commanded by Captain Scott, and carries 37 Chinamen, besides 15 Europeans.

Although the sunken steamer Greenwood is not an obstruction to the fairway of the navigation, she is, nevertheless, considered a certain danger to the general navigation to that extent that the harbour authorities have engaged the tug Electric to watch the wreck and warn approaching vessels. The Greenwood lies sunk about 350 feet off the end of the South Pier, only her masts and funnel being visible.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 August 1900

The Sunken Steamer Greenwood
Precautionary Measures

The Harbour Master has ordered notices to be issued warning shipmasters, etc., of the position of the Greenwood which foundered about 110 yards south-by-east off the outer end of the South pier after collision. It has been deemed prudent, although the wreck does not lie directly in fairway, to adopt all the precautionary measures possible to ensure that no casualty occurs through striking steamer. The vessel's funnel has been carried away through the prevalence of heavy swell, which came away early this morning, but both masts are still standing. Nothing will, we understand, be decided upon as to how the wreck will be removed till a few days hence. A tug has been employed to be in constant attendance to warn approaching vessels of the sunken steamer.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 24 August 1900


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Screw steamer "GREENWOOD," about 232 feet long, at present lies sunk about 25 feet at low water, outside the Entrance to the River Tyne, about 111 yards, south by east, of the outer end of the South Pier. Her masts and funnel are at present visible at high water. The Sunken Vessel is marked by a Watch Vessel riding when practicable, in close proximity thereto, and exhibiting by day a Green Flag, and by night two White Lights placed horizontally.

By Order,

ROBERT URWIN, Secretary.

Tyne Improvement Commission Offices,
22 August. 1900.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 25 August 1900

The Greenwood in Two

The heavy swell having sufficiently abated, the harbour authorities were enabled this morning to make a survey of the sunken steamer Greenwood. The forepart of the wreck has disappeared, and it is now concluded that the vessel has parted in two.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 28 August 1900

Tyne Improvement Committee
Sunken Steamer “Greenwood”

THE TYNE IMPROVEMENT COMMISSIONERS HEREBY GIVE NOTICE that in pursuance of the powers vested in them by the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847, The Merchant Shipping Act 1894, The Tyne Improvement Acts 1850 to 1898 and every other Act enabling them in that behalf have taken possession of, and it is their intention to raise, remove, destroy, sell, break up. or otherwise dispose of, or cause to be raised, removed, destroyed, sold, broken up, or otherwise disposed of as they may deem fit, the wreck the above named vessel, and its stores, tackle, equipments and other appurtences, now sunk near the South Pier at the mouth of the River Tyne, and which is, or is likely to become an obstruction or danger to the navigation in the approaches to the said River.

By Order,


Tyne Improvement Commission Offices,
Newcastle –upon-Tyne
1 August, 1900.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 29 August 1900

Report of the Tyne Commissioners’ Meeting on 13 September 1900.

The Sunken Steamer Greenwood

Mr G. Armstrong, in moving the adoption of the Harbour and Ferry Committee's report, referred to the sunken steamer Greenwood lying near the South Pier end. There had been some little delay dealing with this vessel, caused by the underwriters having expressed a desire to undertake the work of lifting the vessel themselves. Now, however, that the vessel had become a complete wreck, and was irrecoverable as a ship, the underwriters and owners had abandoned her, and the committee had advertised for tenders for her removal by explosives or otherwise, as an obstruction to navigation. They now recommended that the tender of Messrs McCormack and Nicholls, on behalf of the Whitstable Salvage Company, for the raising, removal, and destruction of the steamer Greenwood, be accepted—Agreed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 September 1900

The Dispersing of the Greenwood

The Whitstable Salvage Company commenced operations this morning in connection with the dispersing of the collier Greenwood, sunk off the South Pier. It is anticipated that the work will be completed within a month. Tonite will be used for the destruction of the wreck. This salvage company have had an extensive experience in similar work. Some time ago the same firm were employed by River Tyne Commissioners in blowing up the steamer Kronen which foundered off the bar after collision.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 September1900

The Sunken Steamer Greenwood

Although the Whitstable Salvage Company have frequently been interrupted in their work of dispersing the steamer Greenwood, sunk off the South Pier, through bad weather, nevertheless splendid progress has been made. Upwards of seventy-seven charges have been fired.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 October 1900

Dispersing the Wreck of the Greenwood
The Work Completed

The screw collier Greenwood which foundered south of the South Pier two months ago, after collision, has just been entirely removed from the navigable Channel. The wreck was a source of danger to navigation, and the Winstable Salvage Company were entrusted with the dispersal of the wreck. Operations were commenced on September 26th, but were much interrupted owing to the prevalence of bad weather. Whitstable Salvage Company some time ago destroyed the sunken hull of the steamer Kronen, which went down off this harbour also through collision.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 31 October 1900

The Greenwood Collision Case

The Owners of the Greenwood v. The Owners of the Bulysses and Freight

Yesterday Mr Justice .Barnes, sitting with Trinity Masters, in the Admiralty Division of the High Court, had before him this claim and counter-claims for damages arising out of the collision between the s.s. Greenwood, of Newcastle, and the s.s. Bulysses, of London, just off the entrance to the River Tyne at about 10 a.m. on August 20th last. Mr F. Laing, Q.C., and Mr R. H. Balloch appeared for the plaintiffs, and Mr B. Aspinall, Q.C., and Mr Dawson Miller for the defendants.

According to the plaintiffs' case, shortly before 9.50 a. m. on the above mentioned date, the Greenwood (577 tons net register), in course of a voyage from London to the Tyne in water ballast, was off the entrance to the Tyne. There was a thick fog, and the vessel was making little headway, her engines, which had been stopped, having been working slow ahead for a short time. In those circumstances those on board the Greenwood heard a prolonged blast from the steam whistle of a steamship which proved to be the Bulysses, distant apparently about three-quarters of a mile, and bearing about two points on the port bow. The engines of the Greenwood were immediately stopped, and her whistle (which had been constantly sounded at short intervals for fog), was blown a long blast in reply. Shortly afterwards a second short blast was heard, and this having been answered, the Bulysses gave a thud, and at almost the same time, came into sight, distant about a quartet of a mile, and bearing from one to two points on the port bow of the Greenwood, and showing her starboard side. The engines of the Greenwood were immediately put full speed astern, three short blasts were sounded on her whistle, and her helm was put hard-a-port, in order to keep her head steady. The Bulysses, however, although loudly hailed, came on at a considerable speed, and apparently altering under a port helm, with her stem and port bow, struck the port bow of the Greenwood, doing her so much damage that she shortly afterwards sank. The plaintiffs charged the Bulysses with proceeding at an excessive speed, and with having failed to stop her engines when she heard the fog signal of the Greenwood forward of the beam, and to then navigate with caution, till danger of collision was over.

The defendants denied the collision was due to any wrongful act on the part of their servants, and alleged that it was solely due to the negligent navigation of the Greenwood, that those board of her attempted to bring her into port to the south of mid-channel, and neglected to keep her on her course and her speed. They further alleged that she neglected to found proper or any fog signals. At the time the collision the Bulysses (3,958 tone net register), laden with coal, had just left the entrance to the Tyne. She was in charge of duly licensed Tyne pilot, and with her builders' men on board was starting a trial trip, after which she was to proceed on a voyage to Alexandria in charge of her master and crew, who were also on board, and ready to take over the vessel when the trial had been completed. The Bulysses was just passing close to the South Pier bead at the entrance to the river, when the Greenwood was observed through the fog heading to cross the course of the Bulysses from starboard to port. The Greenwood at the same time sounded one short blast, and the Bulysses replied with a similar signal and ported. In this way she would have passed clear astern of the Greenwood had not that vessel sounded three short blasts and set her engines astern. The engines of the Bulysses were also immediately reversed, but although she lost headway the Greenwood closed on to her and caused the collision. The case stood adjourned until to-day.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 December 1900

The Greenwood Collision Case
Judgement of the Court

The Owners of the Greenwood v. The Owners of the Bulysses

Yesterday, in the Admiralty Division of the High Court, Justice Barnes, sitting with Trinity Masters, gave judgment in this claim and counter-claim for damages arising out of the collision between the s.s. Greenwood, of Newcastle, and the s.s. Bulysses, of London, just outside the entrance to the River Tyne during a fog on August 20th last. The Greenwood at the time was inward bound to the Tyne from London in water ballast, the Bulysses, a new steamship built by Messrs Armstrong, Mitchell and Co. for the Shell line, was just starting on her maiden voyage to Alexandria laden with coals. She was in charge of the builders' men, not having then been finally handed over to her owners, but her master and crew were on board. As result of the collision the Greenwood sank, while the Bulysses sustained considerable damage.— Mr F. Laing, Q.C., and Mr R. H. Balloch appeared for the plaintiffs; Mr B. Aspinall, Q.C., and Mr Dawson Miller for the defendants.

Justice Barnes, in giving judgment, said that at the time of the collision the Bulysses had just left, while the Greenwood was making for entrance to the Tyne. The allegation made by the defendants against the plaintiffs was that the master of the Greenwood lost his head and improperly reversed his engines when ahead of the Bulysses, thereby causing the collision.  On the other hand, the case against the Bulysses was that she did not reverse her engines when she should have done, and did not act with sufficient promptitude for the Greenwood. The main question he had considered was what took place when these two vessels sighted each other. He of opinion that the moment the vessels did not sight each other there was danger of collision, and the engines of the Bulysses should have been put full speed astern. He was satisfied, that this was not done. He was, moreover, satisfied that the Bulysses was solely to blame for the collision. Had that vessel stopped before she did, those on board the Greenwood would have known what to do, instead of having to wait and then take the only possible course, namely, reverse. There would be judgment for the plaintiffs with costs, the damages to be assessed in the Registry.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 8 December 1900