The news brought by the Mary Usher of the barque ashore at Marsden proved too true. The barrel burnt on the vessel’s deck, and seen at North Shields, was also seen by the inhabitants of Marsden and in the vicinity of Manhaven, and numbers of people began to gather along the cliffs watching the fate of the vessel as she battled against the huge waves that ever and anon struck her. Prominent among those who turned out watch the ill-fated vessel was Mr William Allan, of Marsden Grotto, while Mr Snowdon, of Down Hill Farm, seeing the vessel's lights and knowing she could not hold her offing long in the teeth of the fearful gale that then seemed to reach its climax, summoned out his farm servants to help the two coastguardsmen of the neighbouring station in their efforts to convey the rocket lines and apparatus down to the shore to be in readiness. Meanwhile the barque, under a cloud of canvas, rapidly neared the shore, and finally a heavy sea swept her high up among the rooks in the neighbourhood of the “Blow Hole," at the southern point Manhaven Creek, striking heavily with her stern before she became stationary. A lull in the gale at this moment occurring enabled the crew to see that their vessel had been most favourably placed to allow of their escape, her head being inshore, and her bowsprit extending ever the rocks, where Mr Allan and the men from Marsden began to gather. The crew all ran along to the end of the bowsprit, and dropped on to the rocks, safe out danger, where they were received by those who had arrived on the spot The rocket apparatus soon afterwards arrived, but was not then needed. A great number of people soon made their way to the place from Harton and other villages in the vicinity, everyone displaying the liveliest interest in the welfare of the shipwrecked men. So favourable was the position of the vessel that some of the crew ventured on board again in the hope of saving some of their clothes, but the vessel was struck by a tremendous sea, which heeled her over on her starboard side, where every wave made complete breach ever her. The vessel turned out to be the barque Sovereign, of North Shields, the property of Mr P. Dale. She was from Cork, in ballast, at the time of her disaster, and had on board the crew of eleven hands, of whom the following is a list, viz:- Jas Brown, captain, of North Shields; George Harness, mate, of Cork: Chas. Andson, able bodied seaman, of Norway; Jaco Marretto, able bodied seaman, Austria; John Shipley, Cork; John Gordon; Wm. Grant, Cork; John Sheer, Cork; Robert Cumney, Cork; and Alfred Sparrow, boy, of Ipswich. The greatest alacrity was displayed by everyone present to befriend the poor fellows committed to their care, and they were speedily taken to the house of Mr Shaw, and to those of the coastguards, Wm. Cagers and John Williamson, where they were supplied with dry clothing, and most hospitably treated. About 20 of the men of the South Shields Life Brigade were despatched to Manhaven with their apparatus, in order to render assistance, but by the time of their arrival the men had succeeded in leaving the vessel. The mizenmast of the vessel went over the side at a very early stage of proceedings, and this morning she was reported to be breaking up.
Captain Brown, the master of the Sovereign, states that in the morning he was off Whitby High Lights, with the wind NNE. He kept in by land until about Seaham, holding Sunderland NNW, when he was hailed by the steamboat Mary Usher. He made an agreement with the captain of the Mary Usher, to have his vessel towed into the Tyne for £10. When the agreement was made the captain of the tug told him to steer NW for about couple of hours in order to be better able to take the harbour, but, as the captain stated, to make an easier job. Trusting to the experience of the captain of the Mary Usher, Captain Brown did as directed, and about five o'clock the vessels again met, and the towline was fastened, but shortly afterwards parted. Three lines were thrown from the barque to the Mary Usher, each of which the master of the tug said he got, but, by some means unknown to the captain, they all slipped. The steam-tug then left the barque, and, being near land, with strong NE wind blowing. Captain Brown was unable wear his ship round to get an offing. About quarter past six, she struck the rocks amidships the wind then caught hold her, turned her right round, and sent her stem on. Being light, she fortunately was driven right up the rocks, with her bowsprit overhanging the shore, so that the men were able to drop ashore all safe. Had the vessel been laden there would have been very little for the crew, as under the circumstances, she would not have gone so far up on the rocks.
The captain blames the master of the Mary Usher for having wrongly advised him to run NW, when he had sufficient offing to take the harbour. The captain has not been in the Tyne for three year, and, consequently did not think it prudent to place his own judgment against that of the master of the Mary Usher. He states, however, that had he been left to himself his ship would now have been safely in the Tyne.
The Sovereign was a barque of 289 tons, built on the Wear in 1861, when she was classed A2 9 years. She was the property of the executors of the late Mr P. Dale, of North Shields, and at the time of her wreck was on a voyage from Cork to the Tyne in Ballast.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 17 November 1866