Jacob Rothenburg

Severe Storm on The North-East Coast
Wreck Of A German Barque At South Shields

During the past few days the weather has again been very unsettled. Yesterday rain fell heavily nearly all day, and towards evening the wind increased until it reached the violence of a gale from north-north-east. The sea rose rapidly, and soon broke with great force over the piers at the mouth of the Tyne. Several vessels made for and entered the Tyne in safety during last night and this morning. The members the Volunteer Life Brigades at Tynemouth and South Shields were on the look-out for vessels approaching the harbour, and ready to render assistance should any mishap befall them. It was not until half-past six o'clock this morning, however, that the services of the latter brigade were called into requisition. The members who had been on duty all night Deputy-Captain A. Whitelaw, Messrs T. A. Wilson, R. Potts, T. Coulson, J. W. Lambton, J. W. Buckland, T. S. Buckland, B. Heron, R. Wells, and J. Lawrence, coastguardsman. Two members of the Marsden Life Saving Company were also present during the night. At the time stated they observed from the tower of the Brigade Watch House a vessel making for the harbour. Her progress was closely watched, it was seen that she was in danger of coming to grief. Owing to the force of the gale and the heavy sea running she was driven to the southward of the harbour's month, and came into violent contact with the staging at the end of the South Pier. The vessel carried away a large portion of the staging, and was herself much damaged, her foremast being carried away by the deck, and her bowsprit and jibboom were also carried away. The crew fortunately escaped unhurt from amongst the falling spars and wreckage to the after part of the vessel. Seeing the dangerous position in which the vessel was placed the members of the brigade gave the usual signal for the firing of the alarm guns. The signal was promptly responded to three guns being fired from the Spanish Battery, at Tynemouth, and three from H.M.S. Castor and at once thousands of persons rushed down the South Pier to ascertain the nature of the casualty. In the meantime the vessel had cleared herself from the staging, and drifted a considerable distance along the south side of the South Pier, where she stranded ; and the brigadesmen, now greatly increased numbers, had the van containing the rocket apparatus down the pier, placed it position in for operating upon the wreck. The first rocket fired went over mlzen rigging, but the crew of the vessel failed reach it. A second was fired, but the wind carried it away from the wreck, and the third fell short. The vessel was striking heavily upon the sand, and there seemed some danger of the other masts falling. She lay with her decks to the sea, and ever and anon huge waves broke over her, threatening to carry the men overboard. At length one of the crew climbed up the mizen rigging, and secured the line thrown by the first rocket. This done, communication between the shore and the vessel was soon established, and in a very short time the gazing crowd, who watched the movements of the hapless vessel with almost bated breath, had the satisfaction of seeing the first man enter the breaches buoy. The Brigadesmen quickly hauled him ashore, and he was safely landed upon the pier amid loud cheers. One after another the whole of the crew were landed in this way, and, thanks to the alacrity of the Brigadesmen, commanded by Deputy-Captain Whitelaw, the task was accomplished within an hour the firing of the alarm guns. The vessel proved to be the barque Jacob Rothenburg, of Rostock, and was bound from London to the Tyne in ballast, to load coals for Rostock. She was commanded by Captain Wilde, and had crew of seven hands. There were also on board London coasting pilot named William Wright, who was bringing the vessel from the Thames to the Tyne. The rescued men were taken to the Brigade Watch House, where they were kindly attended to by Dr Crease, hon. surgeon of the brigade, and Mr Carmichael. They were also provided with warm, dry clothing, and supplied with hot coffee, and altogether made as comfortable as possible. The majority of the men could speak English very well, and they seemed really thankful for the kindness with which they were treated. A very valuable dog belonging to the vessel was unfortunately drowned. It was thrown overboard in the hope that it would swim ashore, but it refused to leave the wreck, and after swimming about for some time it was drowned. It appears that the vessel's crew originally consisted of nine hands, but that two of them left her at London.

Source Shields Daily Gazette 28th of November 1878

WANTED, TENDERS (on or before Tuesday next) to REMOVE the Barque JACOB ROTHENBURG Rostock, from where she now lies stranded, near to the South Pier, to a safe place in the river Tyne as ordered by the Captain or his Agent. No cure; no pay. The lowest or any Tender not necessarily accepted.—Apply to T. and H. CROSBY, Lloyd’s Agents, 18 Union Street, North Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 2 December 1878

South Shields Life Brigade

To the Editor of the Shields Daily Gazette

SIR,—Would you kindly permit me, through the means of your valuable paper, to return my sincere and grateful thanks to the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, for rescuing our lives on the morning of Thursday, the 28th ult. from the wreck of my ship, Jacob Rothenburg at the south side of the South Pier. I also feel deeply grateful for their kindness in providing my crew with hot coffee, food, and dry clothes.—l am, Sir, yours obediently,

F. Wilde, Master the Jacob Rothenburg.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 December 1878

The barque Jacob Rothenburg, of Rostock was successfully floated off the Herd Sand, at South Shields, yesterday, and brought into the Tyne for repairs. The vessel, it will be remembered, was driven ashore near South Pier during a gale on the 28th inst.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 10 December 1878

Wreck of the “Jacob Rothenburg” of Rostock


         I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 30th last addressed to Captain Whitelaw requesting to be furnished for the information of the German Authorities with a statement of the facts in connection with above shipwreck as far as regards the operations of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.

The vessel lights were first observed by the Brigadesmen on duty about 5.30 a.m. Nov 27 26 and her movements were watched with great anxiety as it was seen from her position, there would be great difficulty in weathering the South Pier. In a short time she struck the staging at the end of the Pier carrying away her Foremast and Bowsprit and about 6.15 A.M. stranded on the South side of the pier at a distance of 50 yards there from./pr>

In anticipation of this the Brigadesmen who had been on duty all night had taken the Rocket Apparatus along the Pier and had everything in readiness. The first rocket carried the line over the Bows, but the sea was washing right over the vessel and the crew in consequence appeared unable to get to it. A second line was thrown over the main top gallant yard. This the crew failed to reach. A third line was fired on board which landed across the rigging in a similar position. An attempt was then made to fire a line on to the deck within reach of the crew who had taken refuge aft, but owing to the nature of the Pier and the difficulty of adjusting the Rocket. It fell short. After this one of the crew managed to go aloft and get hold of one of the previous lines by which they soon hauled our apparatus on board making the gear fast to the mizen mast. During all this time heavy seas were breaking over the ship and we had grave fears that the other Masts might fall. However without any mishap and in about 20 minutes from the seaman getting the Rocket line the whole of the crew, 7 in number together with the English Pilot were safely landed. They were taken to our Watch House where they received by the medical officer of the Brigade and supplied with warm clothing and refreshments.

The above is a short recall of the facts as seen by Captain Whitelaw from the beginning and also by myself from the firing of the second rocket. I may also state that Captain Prowse R. N. Her Majesty’s Inspecting General of Life Saving Apparatus happening to be here on an official visit was present at the wreck and witnessed the saving of the crew.

Permit me in conclusion on behalf of the members of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and the officers of the Coastguard to thank you in return for your kind remarks as to what was done for the crew of the “Jacob Rothenburg “ and state that we always fell amply awarded rewarded for our trouble, when successful in saving the lives of our fellow man of whatever nationality, and especially those of a nation so closely allied to our own.

I have the honour to remain


Your obedient Servant

S. Malcom

Hon. Secretary

Robert Eichholt

Consul for Germany – Newcastle upon Tyne

Source: Minute Book 1