Ten Brothers

The late gale
Great loss of life and property at Shields.

The Newcastle Chronicle supplies the following additional news of the disastrous of the late gale on the east coast:-

Between 1 and 2 o'clock Wednesday morning one of the fishing boats caught in the gale in returning for Shields harbour was observed in great distress at the south of the South Pier. The boat which proved to be the Victor, of Eyemouth, unable to reach the mouth of the river, drifted upon the sandy beach to the south, and stranded. The brigade was at once out and assisted the men to get to shore When five of the crew were landed it was found that a boy son of the master, was missing, and it feared that he had been washed overboard and been drowned; but some members of the brigade went again among the surf to the boat, and found the poor lad lashed down to the boat's bottom under a heavy mass of sails. He was cut out from his perilous position, and after restoratives were applied he was soon alright. Shortly after this occurred another fishing boat was descried fast coming ashore to the south of the pier; and before any assistance could be rendered the  boat was among the surf, and it was with the greatest difficulty three of the crew could be saved. At first only two were got to the Brigadehouse, but several of the Brigade proceeded a second time to the stranded boat, and observed a man's leg protruding from under some sails. They succeeded, after considerable trouble, carrying the apparently dead body to the watch-house, where restoratives were applied, and after a length of time the man showed signs of returning animation. The restored man was named Aitcheson, and the boat was called the Ten Brothers, belonging to Eyemouth. The master of the Ten Brothers, James Aitcheson, and a young man named Alexander White, were washed overboard out of the vessel when off the bar endeavouring to enter the harbour, and were drowned. It appears that the fishing boats, shortly after they had reached the fishing grounds and had their nets out were caught in the storm, which came so suddenly and unexpectedly upon them in all its fury that they had not time to recover their nets before they were compelled to turn about and run for a  harbour of safety.

Source Dundee Courier 18th of June 1869

The Brigade men then proceeded to save the nets and gear belonging to the Victor, and while occupied another fishing boat was observed to have come ashore in the neighbourhood of the Half Sands. They immediately proceeded to her, when she turned out to be the Ten Brothers, also of Eyemouth. Three of the crew were gallantly saved, but, unfortunately, the captain of the boat, James Aitcheson, and another of the crew, named Alexander White, were drowned, having been washed overboard before stranding on the beach. The captain was a young man about twenty-five years of age, and belonged to Eyemouth.  He was married, and has left wife and two children to mourn his untimely end. White was a young man about twenty years of age, and also belonged to Eyemouth. He was unmarried. The rest of the crew, who had been saved through the efforts of the Volunteer Life Brigade, were, in common with the crew of the Victor, conveyed to the Brigade House, supplied with dry clothing and provision, and put to bed.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 June 1869

The squad then came back arriving at the house at 12 pm thoroughly knocked up having had to plodge in the water to keep clear of the sand which cut like a knife. On arrival found that a Scotch fishing boat had come ashore in the corner the crew getting ashore themselves. About 10 men went down & assisted them to get their nets out & try to save the boat They got very nearly the whole of the nets, but did not try to save the boat as another one came ashore about 12 30 with her mast gone. Proceeded to her & hailed but got no answer Fired a rocket which went right into the boat. Thomas Houlsby then went aboard with a line fast to him returning with one of the crew informing those ashore that there were 2 more hands on board. Before leaving he made the Tail Block fast. As soon as Houlsby came on shore he dropped completely exhausted & both he & the men had to be taken up to the house & placed under medical treatment.  After a while again proceeded to the wreck and young sailor named Foley offered to go on board he made the line fast & went off getting on board with considerable difficulty, where he found one of the men quite unconscious & unable to do anything for himself.  He came ashore again for a knife & went off again made the man fast with the whip & had fairly to bundle him overboard like a log. In passing him ashore the line to which he was fast got entangled with the whip& was pulled overboard & well nigh done by the time he got on shore.  Both were taken up to the house the fishermen being Wednesday 16 June 1869 an hour & a half nearly before he came round. Foley also was badly & had to be doctored. After a spell again went down for the 3rd time the boat having come over the bank with the flood.  Geo Heron& young Foley went on board & cut the remaining man out of the wreck of the sail & gear & got him ashore not much the worse considering all things. Two others  were washed overboard before taking the beach The greater part of the men had been down from 10 pm of last night until 6,7 & 8am of this morning, many of whom did not recover from the long wetting they got for a week afterwards.  Kept the man who was so bad in the hospital for 2 days. To sum up, we never got thank you for all our trouble.

Source: South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade Storm Book

The Rescue at South Shields

To the Editor of the North and South Shields Gazette

Sir, —Referring to your impression of yesterday, respecting the conduct of the Volunteer Life Brigade, will you kindly allow me to draw your attention to the bravery displayed Thos. Houlsby, pilot, and to John George Foley, of Blackwall, who gallantly risked their lives through a raging sea to save those of their fellow-men.

I remain, Sir,
Yours truly,
A Member of the Brigade

South Shields. June 17, 1869.

To the Editor of the North and South Shields Gazette

Sir, —Awoke this morning at 3a.m. by the guns, I hastened to the South Pier. Reaching the Brigade House, I found the members much exhausted, many of them having been there all night. Every attention was being paid to a man laid on the table stripped. He had been taken out of the Ten Brothers, of Eyemouth, a fishing vessel, much exhausted. With rubbing and other appliances, he was restored all right. The latter vessel was still the cause of great anxiety to the Brigade; it was supposed there was still someone on board. The secretary insisted upon efforts being made to board the vessel again, a matter of considerable difficulty, as the tide was then flowing, and the sea breaking over the vessel. She was stranded a quarter of a mile to the south of the Pier. Proceeding with the secretary in the direction of the vessel, we met the coastguardsmen bringing away their lines, &c. In reply to the secretary, they said it was no use, they could not get on board; and if there was anybody there they were dead. This was melancholy enough, but the sequel was grand. The secretary returned to the House. I went abreast the vessel. I had not waited long, when I observed the Brigadesmen approach, with lines and lifebuoy, headed by the veteran Wilson. If there is anybody on board they are determined to have him, dead or alive. Glorious resolve! A stranger, J. G. Foley, of Blackwall, volunteers to board the vessel first, with the line fastened his body. (He is not a member of the brigade, but for ever a member of it for his noble conduct.) He reaches the vessel, and boards her, followed by G. Heron, who, holding by the line, also boards the ship. They proceed to cut away the canvas and other obstructions, and they reach a man. The word is passed to the shore, "He is alive," and the cheers rose above the storm. In a few minutes they land, to the joy of all, as fine a specimen of a man and fisherman as ever cast net into the sea. He had been quite fixed in the sail, which had come down upon him when the mast broke. Two of the crew had perished previous to the vessel being stranded. My apology for these remarks, Mr Editor, is that the stranger may get full credit our hands. The members of the brigade are worthy of all praise; in fact, their efforts and anxiety are beyond all praise, and the institution ought to commend itself the warm sympathy of the town at large. I remain, Sir,

Yours, &c.,


South Shields, June 16, 1869

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 18 June 1869

Inquest on the Body Found at South Shields

An inquest was held in the Town Hall, North Shields, before Mr Dickenson, yesterday afternoon, on the body which was picked up near Trow Rocks, South Shields, on Friday night last. A witness named John Finlayson, a fisherman, identified the body as that of Alexander White, of Cockenzie, and stated that the deceased was one of the crew of the Ten Brothers herring boat, out of which he was drowned when it was driven ashorebehind the South Shields pier during the recent gale. The jury returned a verdict of death from drowning during the June gales.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 13 July 1866

South Shields Local Marine Board

The usual monthly meeting of this Board was held yesterday afternoon, at the Board Room, Customs Buildings, South Shields. There was no business before the meeting except the reading of correspondence from the Board of Trade. Mr J Mather was in the chair, and the other members present were Messrs J. White and Fell— Mr Lamb, the secretary read the following letter from the Board of Trade:—Board of Trade Whitehall Gardens, March 30th, 1870.—Rewards —Sir,—l am directed by the Board Trade to transmit to you, for the information the Marine Board of South Shields, the accompanying extract from a letter from Mr Malcolm, honorary secretary the South Shields Volunteer life Brigade, to the inspecting commander of Coastguard, Sunderland, relative to the services rendered by certain persons therein named on the occasion of the wreck of the smack Ten Brothers, of Eyemouth, one of those persons being Mr John George Foley, of Blackwall, but whose present address this board have since been informed is at Mr G. Pollard's, Pier Terrace, South Shields. In consideration of the Services rendered by Mr John George Foley on the occasion in question, this Board have awarded him the accompanying certificate, engrossed on vellum, which I am to request you will move your Board to be so good as to present to him in such way as they may think most fit, and may best express the high sense entertained by this Department of his gallant conduct. l am to request that this Department may be furnished with Mr Foley's receipt for the certificate. l am to add that this Board have awarded and paid pecuniary rewards to Houlsby, Heron and the man whose name is not given in the enclosure in this letter, but which has since been discovered be Benjamin Birch.—l am. Sir, your servant, Thomas Gray.—Extract—The Brigade proceeded at once with the apparatus, and under the superintendence of the Coastguard, a rocket was fixed and communication effected. This was done by the men standing up to their middle in surf. No response being made, it was thought there was no one on board, or if not they were helpless. Thomas Houlsby volunteered to go off with belt and rope attached to him. At the same time the boat would be about 15 yards from the shore, and the sea breaking right over her. After great struggles and much difficulty he succeeded. He also hauled the whip line off, which was made fast by one of the three men on board. The chair in being hauled off fouled among the nets and wreckage. Houlsby, in a most courageous manner, got the man on his back, jumped into the surf and was pulled ashore in a very exhausted condition, having to be carried to the Brigade House for medical assistance. The belt and line were then fastened to another member, who was, however, so exhausted previous exertions that he had to give up. Thereupon, Mr J. G, Foley, of Blackwall, London, volunteered to board. His assistance was gladly accepted, as the members had been up all night and a great part of that time in the water. On getting aboard he found a man sitting at the foot of the mast quite benumbed and so stiff that he was unable to get him into the breeches buoy. He came ashore but went off again and put a clove hitch round the man's body, when he was hauled ashore. In doing this Foley got entangled among the ropes and had a narrow escape of being drowned. Dr Winter, whose untiring exertions are much praised, succeeded in bringing them round. The third man left on board was underneath the sail and broken spars and was supposed to be dead. Foley again volunteered to go on board, and was closely followed by George Heron. They cut the sail, and, to the joy of all, the poor fellow was brought ashore alive. I may state that is only within the last month that Heron was the means of saving the lives of the crew a salmon boat which had got among the broken water, and on former occasions has distinguished himself in a similar manner. It is impossible for me to convey a correct idea the fatigues and exertions of the members of our brigade, many of whom were on duty eight hours, but I think that the Board of Trade ought to in same special way mark their appreciation of Thomas Houlsby, J. G. Foley, and George Heron. remain, &c  (signed) S. Malcolm, honorary secretary, South Shields Life Brigade.—Mr Lamb explained that the wreck referred to occurred the 15th July last. The certificate for Mr Foley had been received the 1st April, but was not in Shields. It had been ascertained that Mr Foley had been in Liverpool, and the certificate had been forwarded wither.—The Board then adjourned.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 14 April 1870