Great Destruction of Shipping
Loss of a Tyne Tug- All Hands Drowned
The gale which broke ever the coast on Sunday abated nothing of its fury throughout the whole of yesterday. From morning to night it blew in terrific gusts from the north-east, with occasionally a point or two more north in it, which swept everything before it at sea, while on shore it played havoc among the detached houses, and everything to which the character of frailty in any way be engaged. Though much of the popular interest was wanting, owing to it being pretty well known that there were no vessels in the offing whose progress through the perils of taking the bar would be fraught with that fearful Interest which proves so attractive, yet large numbers of pilots, seamen, and others, whose connections led them to feel a deeper than ordinary anxiety about ships and sailors, gathered at all the points whence a view of the bar and the entrance of the river could be obtained, and might be seen crouching behind every little corner which could shelter from the wild fury of the blast. Although there was little thought that the services of the life-brigadesmen would be required, yet on both sides of river vigilant watch was kept up. Up till about one o'clock, however, the day proved uneventful, scarce a sail being to be seen. As far as either eye or glass could reach, the scene was one of angry, troubled waves, rising in large rollers, and lashed into foam by the force the gale, which covered the face of the sea with a mist of driving spray. About the time mentioned, however, the few watchers who continued the out-look became witnesses of one of those terrible catastrophes which tell with awful inpressiveness of the powerlessness of man to contend with the elements in their passion, and which, as briefly narrated in the Gazette yesterday, caused a general thrill of horror in the town. Undeterred by the absence of any appearance of vessels requiring assistance, and heedless of the raging storm, three tugs left Shields harbour during the morning to look for a chance to tow. Two of these, the Protector and the Jumna—the former which lost her mast in going out—did not keep the sea long, and succeeded in returning safely into harbour. The third was not fated to be equally fortunate. She was a fine new boat, named the Pearl, commanded by Captain Chisholm, and with the following crew, in addition to her captain:—John Chisholm, fireman; J. Walker, engineer; and William Foster, boy. After getting out to sea, she ran to the northward, and it was not till sometime after midday that she was saw making for the harbour. At that time the storm was about at its height. The sea was breaking a considerable distance from the shore, and had a terrible look as it rolled up the river. The Pearl was anxiously watched from the Castle and the Spanish Battery as she began to near the shore, there being little expectation on the part of those on-lookers, who had had any experience in nautical matters that she could survive in the tumult of waters which she was about to attempt to go through. Still, on she came, gallantly breasting the waves that ever and anon threatened to engulph her; now dashed like a feather high up to the top of a huge roller, on the crest of which she hung poised for instant, ere she dashed down into the depths, and hidden from view all but the top of her mast and her smoke funnel, till it was feared she would never again be seen. Suddenly, while descending the side of one monster wave, she was struck on the quarter by another which broke on her and completely buried her. Then the wave rolled on its course, and the horrified spectators saw that the career of the Pearl was over; she and her crew had perished together. She was seen lying bottom up, having completely turned over in the awful meeting of the waves. Signal guns were immediately fired from the Spanish Battery, and the Tynemouth Life Brigade hurried down to the pier with their apparatus. Though many eyes gazed long and wearily seaward, not a vestige of the boat or her crew could be seen. The Pearl was owned by Messrs George and Robert Chisholm, North Shields. The vessel was in command of Robert, and the names of the rest of the crew were John Chisholm (his brother) fireman; John Walker, engineman; and William Foster, a lad about fifteen years of age, who acted as fourth hand. Both the Chisholms were married, and also the engineman. Robert Chisholm leaves a wife and three of a family; John, a wife and two children, and Walker wife and four children. The boy had temporarily joined the boat yesterday morning.
A correspondent says: I was standing with a number friends at the end of the south pier, watching the Pearl in her progress through the breakers—the largest and most impetuous I ever witnessed The wind was blowing very strong, and was bitter cold. The little tug, evidently 200 yards off the north pier, struggled bravely to enter the harbour, and would have succeeded had those on board been able keep her end on to the breakers, a task of great difficulty in such a sea. Suddenly her position was reversed, and to our horror we saw her thrown sideways into the great trough formed by two gigantic waves. The first struck and nearly _ engulphed her. She struggled bravely—a little moving thing under a great load—and would have righted in another second when, side on, came another tremendous sea, and instead of her masts, funnel, and spluttering wheels, as before we saw, only the dim outline of her hull, keel uppermost: a second after, her stern shot up and continued so for a little, then she disappeared. It was an awful sight—a terrible drama of seven minutes' duration.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 3 Dec 1867
The Body one of the Crew of the Pearl Found.—The body of the lad Foster, who was lost in the tug Pearl, as previously reported in these columns, washed, ashore yesterday afternoon, at Whitburn. The friends of the deceased left South Shields last evening to bring the remains home. Up to the present time this is the only body recovered of those who were lost in the Pearl.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 5 Dec 1867
The Upsetting of the Steamer on Shields Bar
Yesterday, Mr Cockcroft, coroner, opened an inquiry at the Town Hall, North Shields, touching the death of William Foster, a boy 15 years of age, who was among those drowned by the steamtug Pearl capsizing while entering Shields harbour Tuesday last. The body having been identified by the father of the deceased, who stated that the little fellow only went on board of the Pearl that morning in place of lad laid off through being unwell, Clarence Byrne was called: He said he was commander of the coastguard at Tynemouth. On the morning in question he saw the Pearl go out of the harbour about eight o'clock, along with three other steamers. He saw her return about a quarter to one o'clock. She seemed to be properly handled. She was coming southward in the direction of the North Pier. When about a quarter of a mile from the pier, he observed her to be rather broadside on the sea. Suddenly a heavy sea struck her, and turned her bottom up. There was no opportunity of rendering any assistance. No lifeboat could have crossed the bar in such a sea. A short time before the accident all the men were at the head of the steamer. He did not see them when she capsized. She was thrown over sidewards. The sea was rolling E.N.E. at the time. The sea that struck her broke over her bodily, and lifted her clean over. A Juryman: Are you sure that was the way she capsized? It is a remarkable thing for steamtug to capsize. Witness I am certain of it.— A Juryman Was no one at the helm?—Witness: No; the men were all at the forehead. A Juryman said the Pearl had not a tiller, but a wheel in the middle.—Witness: Then that will account for all the men being the forehead. He repeated that no assistance could have possibly been tendered, there was such a sea running.—ln answer to the Coroner, witness said he did not think the unfortunate crew had acted imprudently in going out, inasmuch as at the time the Pearl left the harbour—eight o'clock in the morning— the sea was comparatively smooth. He thought when the gale began to increase and the sea running high, they had determined to make for the harbour. It was a common thing for tugboats to go out in rough weather in search of vessels. A witness having spoken to the construction of the Pearl, the Coroner summed up. Loss of life, he said, by shipwreck at any time was to be deplored, but more especially when caused by imprudence. In this case they had it proved that no imprudence had been displayed. The steamer left with other two boats early the morning, and after getting to sea, finding the weather increasing in severity, they were making for the harbour when the melancholy accident occurred. They also had it in evidence that no assistance could be rendered, and the case to his mind seemed to have been accidental. A verdict was then returned to show that the deceased met his death accidentally, the steamer capsizing.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 December 1867
Lost on board the steamer Pearl, off Shields bar, Monday last, John Walker, aged 52, leaving a wife and seven children. Deeply lamented.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 7 December 1867
The body of John Chisholm, fireman of the tug steamer Pearl, which was capsized off the Tyne on Monday last, was picked up yesterday at Roker.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 December 1867
THE REV. JOHN STEWART will (D.V.) PREACH a SERMON in the THEATRE, North Shields on Sabbath, December 15th, at a Quarter past THREE p.m. Subject “Accidents not Judgments; or, the Loss of the Steamtug Pearl."
In accordance with the wishes of the of the Relatives of the unfortunate Men who perished in the above vessel, Mr Stewart will preach on the above Subject, and the Pit of the Theatre will be reserved for Steam-tug Men till Five Minutes past Three p.m.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 December 1867
The Loss of Steamtug Pearl.—The subscriptions made by the steamboat owners and a few friends towards the families bereaved by the foundering of the steam-tug Pearl, on the 2nd inst , amounts in all to £40, and has been divided as follows:—To each widow £11 7s 6d, and to the fourth hand's parents, £5 17s 6d.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 20 December 1867