Another Gale
Wreck of a Schooner at South Shields

On Friday night, a stiff gale from the south-south- east broke along the north-east coast. Although the sea was not very rough, the members of the Volunteer Life Brigade at South Shields and Tynemouth were upon duty. Nothing, however, was seen to cause alarm until the lights of a vessel in the offing were discerned by one of the members of the coastguard stationed at South Shields. After a short time the lights disappeared, and it was concluded that the vessel must have stood off, but upon the coastguard man going down to the end of the pier he was met by the crew of the schooner Russell, which had struck upon the south side of the pier, near to the iron gates. The master of the Russell stated that the vessel was bound from Burnham to Sunderland, having neither cargo nor ballast on board. She arrived off the Wear about eight o'clock in the evening, but owing to the state of the sea, it was found impracticable to enter, and I she ran for the Tyne. As she was taking the harbour, however, the vessel was struck by a heavy sea and carried out of her course, and all attempts to get her out of danger being useless, she struck upon the pier. Two of her crew got ashore by sliding down the square-sail boom on to the pier, and  the other two jumped into the water and got up the pier side. The names of the crew, all of whom belong to Burnham, are — Geo. Brown, master; A. Goldsmith, mate; John Carter and John Tricy, seamen. They were taken to the Life Brigade Watch House, and supplied with dry clothing, etc.. The sea made clean breaches over the vessel, and she soon broke up, the crew losing everything except the clothes they wore at the time. The Russell was a small flat bottomed schooner of 91 tons register, was built at Rochester in 1858, and was the property of Mr John Smith of Burnham. The signal guns not being fired the casualty was little known before Saturday morning. Great damage has been done to the staging at the end of the pier by the wreck having been washed through it by the sea, carrying away about 175 foot of woodwork, two cranes, and a diving bell. The wreck of the vessel was afterwards thrown upon the stones at the north side of the pier. The weather continued unsettled throughout Saturday and Sunday, and the members of the Life Brigades have during the time been on the alert. Several vessels have come into the Tyne, but owing to the threatening aspect of the weather, sailings have been almost nil. The south pier was thronged by visitors throughout Sunday.

Source: Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough 18 December 1876


T, GLOVER & SON will SELL the above by PUBLIC AUCTION at the South Pier, South Shields, on Wednesday, the 20th day of December, 1876.

Time of Sale, 12 o’Clock, noon.

Auction Offices, 63 King Street, South Shields

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 19 December 1876

The staging and cranes have suffered severe damage from vessels running into them.

The first was the schooner “Russell” which in the middle of the night of the 15th December in a South East Gale ran onto the South Slope of the South Pier- onto which the crew escaped- she was afterwards driven through the staging from the south to north breaking 18 piles which with the framework supported two large travelling cranes and which were consequently thrown down and broken, the two bells and machinery being submerged. Three of the remaining cranes left in danger were brought from the south to the north side for safety.

On the night of the 20th and morning of the 21st the gale and sea still increasing the screw steamer “Tyne” which became a total wreck with loss of all hands and the steamer “Fenella” afterwards stranded-went through the outer staging from NE to SW throwing down about 125 feet of completed staging with some framing still left hanging from the damage of the “Russell”.

In the afternoon of the same day the screw steamer “Blenheim” of Hartlepool came over the rubble base side on to the end of the masonary when she broke in two one half going to the south and the other to the north of the Pier and drifted against the remaining north piles alongside the finished work breaking them and throwing down the three cranes that had been placed there for safety when saved from the wreck of the “Russell”. The sea on this day was terrific.

Source: Piers Committee 9 January 1877