Ploughboy figurehead

Severe Gale
Wreck at Shields
Rescue of the Crew
Exciting incident

Rain fell incessantly from three o'clock yesterday afternoon till this morning, and at the time of writing still continued. There was strong wind from the south, which towards nightfall veered round somewhat easterly, causing the sea at the mouth of the Tyne to be very rough. There was a heavy fresh in the river, and this helped to make a nasty sea on the bar. Nothing unusual occurred, however, till about 8.15, when Coastguardsman Bartlett, who was close to the Watch House, on the lookout for incoming vessels, observed a schooner coming from southwards, evidently making for the Tyne. As she neared harbour, she seemed to be coming dangerously near the end of South Pier, It was next seen that she was in difficulties, and Bartlett immediately fired the detonating signals, and the coastguard, and the members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade who were on duty in the Watch House, pushed the rocket van along the pier. Before they could get it to where the schooner had struck—she was by this time lying on the stonework on the south side of the pier just opposite the Tyne General Ferry Company's landing stage, and the seas washing over her— crowds people came rushing down, and were a serious obstacle to the men performing their duties. After a good deal of trouble the van was brought up in line with the schooner. Heaving lines were used, but failed to reach the vessel, then a rocket was fired over her and communication established. The whole of the crew were safely brought ashore by the breeches buoy, but the captain had a narrow escape. On getting into the apparatus he found his arm entangled in the whipline, and it dragged him out of the seat. Eventually some of the crew were able to get hold of him and pull him to the vessel again. He was afterwards landed, but in an exhausted condition. The vessel proved to be the Ploughboy, schooner, of Shoreham, from Bridport to Newcastle. She left Bridlington yesterday morning, and encountered the full force of the gale. In making the Tyne she was unable to clear the South Pier, and drove ashore as stated. The crew consisted of Charles Hodder, captain, Weymouth; James Clark, mate, London; Robert A.B., son of the captain; Fred. W. Harrod, A.B. and Charles Cook, London. The men were taken to the Watch House and supplied with dry clothing and given warm refreshments, and everything done to make them comfortable. The unfortunate schooner lay exposed to the full sweep of the seas which went clean over her and also washed the surface of the pier. During the course the night the effect of this buffeting became apparent, and this morning between six and seven o'clock she broke completely and only floating pieces of timber in the surf were left to tell the tale of the latest disaster at the mouth of the Tyne. The brigadesmen were able to secure the figurehead of the vessel. It is a representation of a ploughboy, and is in a fairly good state of preservation. They also got the nameboard of the schooner, and these will be added to the list of the melancholy trophies which adorn the interior of the Watch House. The prompt action of the coastguard and brigadesmen was above all praise, but the men were greatly hampered by the spectators who crowded the pier while the rescue work was going on. The crew of the Ploughboy were this morning thoroughly recovered from the exposure they had undergone, and were very grateful for the kindness with which they had been treated. They have lost the whole of their effects, and will be forwarded to their homes through the offices the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 March 1891

The Schooner Ploughboy

The schooner Ploughboy, wrecked at the South Pier, belonged to John Swaffieid, of Bridport. She was a vessel of 97 tons, and was built at Shoreham in 1861. She was laden with gravel when she went ashore.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 March 1891

The Wreck at the South Pier

As has been already stated, the schooner Ploughboy became a total wreck about seven o'clock yesterday morning. At low tide, about one o'clock in the morning, the crew were able to recover a portion of their clothing. In going over the vessel large cat, alive and apparently none the worse for its adventures, was found in the forecastle and was taken possession of by Mr James Page, one of the brigadesmen, who intends to keep it in remembrance of the event Sunday night. All the members of the crew were despatched by the aid of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society to their homes, only the master remaining behind. Captain Bromley, of the Coastguard service, visited the scene yesterday, and it is understood, expressed his gratification with the way in which the rescue of the unfortunate schooner had been carried out. The local Coastguard staff had much difficulty in preventing the timbers of the wrecked vessel being carried away by boys for firewood. Tho scene of the disaster was during the day visited by hundreds people. A drizzling rain fell but the wind subsided, and though there were large breakers between the South Pier and Trow Rocks, the sea had calmed considerably towards evening.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 March 1891


T GLOVER and SON are instructed to SELL PUBLIC AUCTION at the South Pier on Thursday first at 1 o'clock prompt in the afternoon, the ROPES, ANCHORS, Chains, Masts, Gear. Canvas, &c., which have been salved from the above wreck.

Auction Offices, 64 King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 March 1891

The wreck of the schooner Plough Boy on the South Pier, in March, this year, is described thus by a member of the Volunteer Life Brigade, signing himself "J. P.” who still has possession of the cat:-

A dirty night? Well yes, though there's been many worse down here,
The wind blew in from the east- of a wreck there was little fear;
We were round the Watch-house fire-that's Wood, Swainston, Purvis, and me,
Spinning yarns to each other of the wonders we a heard of the angry sea.
There came a rap at the window, we listened intent to hear
And Bartlett outside cried out, "Ship ashore lads, close to the pier."
Our oilskins were on in a moment, all eager to render aid,
And soon through the storm we were pushing the van of the Life Brigade.
Then bang! bang! boomed the guns, calling members from far and near
And our motto “Always Ready" was that night again proved clear.
The vessel was stranded by this close to the bend of the pier,
As soon as we saw her shouted "Hold on fast lads—don't fear."
The hawser was then got aboard her, and soon in the rigging made fast,
The sailors no doubt thinking each moment might well be their last.
One by one they were landed, exhausted, and weary and weak,
The only live thing left behind being poor pussy, glossy and sleek.
In the watchhouse they were soon safely sheltered, warm and secure,
Dry clothing and coffee provided, the best you may be sure,
But still there was something a-wanting though rough, their hearts were warm
They were thinking of poor old tabby, alone still out in the storm.
As soon the tide had fallen, to the wreck their way they found.
Each anxious to rescue pussy, yet fearing she might be drowned.,
‘Way down the fo'cstle they found her, with eyes sparkling and bright,
And quick to the shore they brought her, all beaming with delight;
In comfort and health, poor shipwrecked pussy dwells safely at home,
No more to cross the briny, wherever she cares to roam.
The morning broke, still wild and stormy, far the eye could reach,
And there was left of the "Plough Boy” a few spars cast on the beach.
In explanation of the above it will remembered that a beautiful cat was rescued from the vessel long after the crew had been brought off, and this incident forms a leading incident in the lines given by our brigadesman. The schooner became total wreck soon after.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 27 May 1891