John Roberts

Vessel Driven Ashore at Marsden
An Exciting Scene
Gallant Rescue Work
The Captain Injured

The inhabitants of the Marsden villages, in the height of a fierce gale and raging sea  were thrown into great excitement by the appearance of a distressed vessel seen driving ashore shortly before 5 o’clock this morning. The people of that locality had been on the alert throughout the early hours of the morning. The coastguardsmen John Matters and John Richie had been on duty throughout the last night and their services were brought into requisition shortly  after five o’clock. Immediately it was seen from the cliff tops there was a general rush of the public to the beach to assist the coastguard in their work. The vessel with torn sails and shattered bulwarks was tossed about the terrific seas till she finally went ashore almost alongside the Marsden ”Grotto”.

John Roberts

When it was seen the vessel would be wrecked, the rocket van, which was in readiness on the cliff top, was fixed in a proper position. There was no time lost in getting matters ready to effect a speedy rescue, as the stranded ship was considered to be in such a condition that the lives of those aboard were placed in great peril. The weather at this period was dreadfully boisterous, and the seas were making a clean sweep over the wreck. Communication was sent to Chief Officer Williams, of the South Shields Coastguard Station, who happened to be on duty at the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade House. Mr Williams, though having had no rest for the past forty hours, made a hasty journey to the scene of the wreck. On arrival the Marsden coastguardsmen had fired two rocket lines, but they had missed the vessel a result of the force of the wind.

By this time, some hundreds of willing hands had found their way down to the beach to render what assistance they could. The third rocket fired, under the direction of Mr Williams, had the effect of penetrating the ship's upper topsail, and communication was effected, to the relief of the anxious crowd. The coastguard were, however, faced with another awkward obstacle—the whip line, it was found, refused to work. The two coastguardsmen Matters and Richie, notwithstanding the heavy breakers rolling in on the beach, waded into the sea to ascertain the cause of the non-working of the whip. The men courageously splashed into the sea, at imminent risk. To get the line to work, it was necessary for the men to almost wade up to their breasts in water. The whip line, however, had got entangled under some wreckage which had fallen near the stern.

John Roberts

The vessel subsequently proved to be the brig John Roberts, belonging to Portmadoc, and on board of which were a crew of seven hands, besides Mrs Davis, wife of the master. The poor fellows were at first placed into a great disadvantage not having a very clear knowledge of the working of the apparatus, and it subsequently transpired their master was lying in the forecastle ill, and could not be consulted. The coastguard shouted through the howling wind to the men how to work the line, and, luckily, their instructions were eventually understood. Shortly after seven o'clock the breeches buoy was despatched to the wreck. In a moment or so afterwards, the first man, the cook, was sent ashore, amidst the cheers of the spectators. The second person safely landed was Mrs Davis, who, according to the men's statement, showed great courage, and had no fear in being dragged through the surf. Mrs Davis, however, exhibited great anxiety concerning her husband’s safety, whose condition was more serious than first thought. She would have preferred to stay by her husband’s side in the hour of danger, but she  was earnestly entreated to go ashore, the men assuring Mrs Davis that her husband would be looked after and would be sent ashore shortly after her. On this assurance Mrs Davis quitted the vessel. The rescue work proceeded without much interruption. Capt. Davis was happily got ashore, but his rescuers experienced great difficulty owing to his critical condition. He had to be pulled through the breakers, and carried into the Marsden “Grotto”. The last persons to leave the brig were J. H. Hackney, boatswain and a seaman.  The rescue work occupied nearly three hours and a half. The shipwrecked persons were supplied with dry clothing and refreshments by the landlord of the “Grotto”. Captain Davis is in a very serious state and was unconscious at the time of writing. It is feared that he must be seriously injured.

The boatswain, interviewed, stated that the master was at the wheel yesterday, and was alright up to an early hour this morning. It is surmised that he had been knocked down by a terrific sea and dashed against the hatches, as he was found unconscious. The boatswain, to prevent Captain Davis from being washed overboard, carried him to the forecastle. The boatswain himself sustained injuries to his face and chest, through being dashed against the windlass.

The John Roberts is laden with phosphorous from the West Indies and was bound for Berwick.  She was off Flamborough Head yesterday, and the weather was terrific, a snowstorm prevailing with high seas. The crwew tried to haul the ship but this could not be done. The decks were swept, boats smashed, and the foresail wre carried awy, a fearful night being passed. The captain’s wife had been bailing out the cabins which were continually flooded. The vessel eventually drove ashore. Though Mrs Davis was much exhausted, she continued to nurse her husband at the “Grotto”, where the crew were hospitably treated.

The John Roberts is a fine vessel of 340 tons register and is owned by the master. She had been 78 days on the passage, and is registered Port Madoc.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 December 1901

The crew of the John Roberts, which stranded at Marsden on Saturday, were paid off at South Shields to-day. The master, Captain Davis, is still the Ingham Infirmary, suffering from injuries sustained some time before the vessel went ashore. The boatswain, J. Hackney, who was staying at the Tyne Sailors Home. North Shields took seriously ill early on Sunday morning, and after being attended to by a doctor and the superintendent of  the Home, Mr Brown, was removed to the Jubilee Infirmary, North Shields, his wants attended to through the agency of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 December 1901

The Brig John Roberts
The Vessel’s Back Broken

The brig John Roberts, which stranded a fortnight ago in the heavy gale, is practically a wreck. A survey which was held recently proved the vessel's back to be broken. She was laden with a cargo of phosphorus from the West Indies and was bound for Berwick when she went ashore.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 24 December 1901


As she now lies stranded on the Beach at Marsden Bay, near South Shields.

Auctioneers and Valuers,
ARE instructed by the Representative of the Underwriters herein to SELL BY PUBLIC AUCTION, on
FRIDAY FIRST, the 27th Inst.,
11 o'clock a.m. prompt,

The above-mentioned Vessel as she now lies together with the whole of the Stores including Sails, Towlines, Chains, Anchors, etc., in suitable lots. /pr>

Terms cash immediately after sale.

Marsden Train leaves Westoe Lane Station at 10 o'clock.

Auction Offices: King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 26 December 1901

The Stranded Brig at Marsden

The brig John Roberts, which stranded near Marsden Rock a few weeks ago, was floated yesterday and towed into the Tyne.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 25 January 1902

The Brig John Roberts in Dock

The brig John Roberts which, as has already been published, was floated off the beach at Marsden, where she stranded during the December gales, is now in Young's Dry Dock, North Shields. The John Roberts has been sold to Mr Logan, of Berwick, who salved the vessel, with the result that she was successfully brought round to the Tyne. The keel is damaged, and parts of the bulwarks aft have been carried away, but otherwise she is not seriously damaged.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 January 1902