Abbey Holme

abbey holme onshore

Heavy Gale on the Coast
Barque Ashore Shields
Gallant Rescue

It a long time since the sea at the mouth of the Tyne presented such wild appearance as it did yesterday. A strong northerly gale had been blowing from early in the day, and at four in the afternoon, within an hour of high water, it was at its height. Lofty waves broke with great force against the piers, sending avalanches of water along the top of those structures that made it exceedingly dangerous for anyone to go beyond the first gates. To the south, as far as Trow Rocks, the waves were churned into a mass boiling foam, and altogether the


to the many hundreds of onlookers who crowded behind the Watch House and other sheltered places near the beach. The coastguard and a good muster of the officers and members of the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were on the lookout, and the pilots on the Lawe as usual were prepared for any emergency. About two o'clock a schooner made an effort to enter the harbour and she got into an extremely difficult position. Seeing this, the coastguard and brigadesmen ran the rocket van along the pier, but the vessel was afterwards got hold of by a tug and brought safely in. About ten minutes to four,


coming from the north in tow of a steamtug. She was labouring heavily, and her progress was watched with close interest. Just when between the ends of the unfinished piers, the towline snapped, and the vessel rapidly drifted towards the South Pier. The coastguard immediately fired the rocket signals, and accompanied by the members of the life brigade preparations were made to render every assistance possible under the circumstances. The seas were sweeping over the pier and it was with the greatest difficulty the men could hold their feet. The barque, helpless in the heavy sea, struck the pier in a slanting direction, and driving along the side of the structure with every succeeding wave, a line was got on board, which the crew made fast to the main winch, the other end of the rope being held by the rescuers. The position of the barque at this time was one of extreme danger, for in one of her rebounds from the stonework she might have heeled completely over, but fortunately she maintained her equilibrium in the most admirable manner. At last


upon the large heap of loose rock lying immediately east of the Tyne General Ferry’s Company's gangway, and the line was without delay got into operation. The mate had before this leaped ashore in the most daring fashion. Two of the brigadesmen passed from the pier to the vessel, going along the line hand over hand. The first person to be landed by the breeches buoy was the captain's wife, a stout, elderly woman. She was in a very prostrated condition, and was assisted along to the Watch House and there carefully attended to. Dr Crease, the honorary surgeon to the brigade, was already at the place, and under his direction the poor woman gradually recovered from the shock which she had sustained. In the meantime the rest of the hands on board, consisting of captain, second mate, two apprentices, and five runners,


the last to leave the vessel being the two gallant brigadesmen. The seas all the time had been driving along and over the pier with unabated fury, and it was almost a miracle that none of the men were washed into the seething waters. The whole of the rescued were soon comfortably located at the Watch House. They were supplied with dry clothing, and were each served with hot tea and such refreshment as is provided against such occasions. Mr Rudd, the local agent of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society, afterwards arrived, and placed at the disposal the captain should they require them, such funds as might be required to take the crew to their homes, and secured suitable lodgings for them in the meantime. The


was not confined to this, for the manager of the Salt Water Baths forwarded a messenger saying each of the men could have a warm salt bath, and the necessary comforts for the wife of the captain were also forwarded from the same quarter. The men expressed themselves as highly pleased with the kind treatment they had received. It transpired that the vessel is the iron barque, Abbey Holme, of Liverpool, and that she was being towed from Leith to Middlesborough in ballast. She was commanded by Captain J. H. Rich, who had his wife on board. The rest of the hands on the vessel were the second mate, Richard Bidwell, two apprentices, Arthur Snowdon and W. Fitch, and five runners, Thos. Bain, John Sowerby, Alex. Dalgleish, R. Adams, and J. Anderson. The vessel left Leith that morning in tow of the tug William Fenwick, also of Leith. There was at the time of leaving, eight o'clock, a strong northerly wind, which increased as the vessel proceeded on her voyage. At that time she was under foresail, four under mainsails, mainsail, and four topsails. As she kept over-running the tug they had to furl all the sails and brace the yards fore and aft. The gale increased, and with difficulty they reached the Tyne. Just entering, the hawser parted, and the vessel struck as above described. Last evening a great quantity of the deck fittings were washed ashore, and it was feared the barque, which still preserved an even keel, would become a total wreck.


is a vessel of 510 tons register, and is owned by Messrs Hine Bros., Maryport. She was built in 1869. When her towline parted the lifeboats of North and South Shields were launched, and proceeded a good way down the harbour, when it was seen that the coastguard and brigadesmen were doing all the service that was necessary, and the boats soon after returned.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 April 1890

Letter from the Captain.

Capt. Rich writes us as follows:—

South Shields, 8th April, 1890.

Dear Sir, —Kindly, on behalf of my crew, wife, and sell, allow me through your valuable paper to express my sincere gratitude to the coastguards and the members the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade for their prompt action in saving our lives, and also to the doctor and those ladies who so kindly attended to my wife, and we shall ever feel grateful, and hope they may be long spared to continue their valuable work.—-Yours sincerely,

John H. Rich.

Master of the Abbey Holme.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 April 1890

9 April 1890

The Severe Gale
The Stranded Barque Abbey Holme

The above vessel, which lies alongside the South Pier, sustained considerable damage overnight, by the seas washing over her. She lies firmly fixed on the stones to the east of the General Ferry Company's landing, the stern, which is towards the open sea, being much lower than the stem, but she is on an even keel. The mainmast, by the vessel bumping against the pier yesterday, was unstepped, and was this morning simply hanging by the mainstays, which might give way at any moment. Last night, a quantity of property belonging the captain and his wife was recovered. The vessel for the time being is in charge of the coastguard, but an agreement was in the course of the forenoon entered into by Captain Rich with the Brothers Mitchelson for the stripping of the vessel, which will be done with the least possible delay. It is feared that her hull which of iron, has been very much damaged by contact with the pier yesterday before she stranded, and little hopes are entertained of getting her off before breaking up. There was a heavy sea running this morning, a fresh breeze blowing from N.N.E.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 9 April 1890

9 April 1890

Abbey Holme

The Severe Gale
The Weather on the Coast

Yesterday, though the wind had considerably abated from the previous day, when tremendous gale visited the coast, there was still heavy sea running at the mouth of Tyne. Hundreds of people during the course of the day went along the South Pier, to view the Abbey Holme, which lies close alongside the seaward end of the stones at the east of the Tyne General Perry Company's landing. The work of stripping the vessel, for which the Brother's Mitchelson possess the contract, proceeds apace, and this morning, considerable progress had been made. It is highly improbable that the ship will be lifted, as she lies in very exposed position, and she is thought to very much damaged in the hull.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 10 April 1890

11 April

The Wreck of the Abbey Holme

Sir, —In your account of the wreck of the above named vessel on Tuesday last, you have it that two of the brigadesmen passed from the pier to the wreck, going hand over hand along the hawser, which was not the case, for if the truth were known, only one man went hand over hand along the hawser, and that man was no other than Mr Swainston, butcher, of this town. The other man who went aboard was Mr Heron, but he went off in the breeches buoy and had on his life jacket, and I for one say that Mr Swainston deserves all praise for such a brave and daring deed.—Yours, etc.,

A Spectator.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 11 April 1890


The Wreck of the Iron Barque ABBEY HOLME, 516 Tons Register.
T. GLOVER and SON are favoured with instructions to SELL the above (for the Benefit of all concerned) by PUBLIC AUCTION, on Saturday, the 19th April.

The Stores, Tanks, Anchors. Cable and Hawser Chains, Tow Line, Warps, Running Gear, Sails, and Boats will be sold Lots, commencing at 11 o'clock prompt in the morning.

The Hull of the Ship, as it then lies upon the Rocks, including the Iron Main and Fore Masts and Bowsprit, and such Spars. Yards, and Rigging as may be attached to them, will be sold in one Lot. at o'clock prompt in the afternoon.

For further particulars apply to the Auctioneer, 63 King Street, South Shields.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 April 1890

21 April

Sale of the Wrecked Barque Abbey Holme

On Saturday, Mr W. Glover sold by auction at the South Pier, the whole of the stores of the wrecked barque Abbey Holme, and also the vessel as she lies alongside the pier. There was a very large attendance of buyers and persons interested in shipping. The stores, which were arranged in lots, and lay near the Watch House, brought good prices, the competition being in most cases very spirited. After the disposal of all the sails, boats, blocks, ropes, and other tackle, the company proceeded along the pier, and. bidding for the vessel was at once proceeded with. The first offer was £150, and the bidding soon ran up to £310, at which it stood for some time. Then bids of £5 were made until £330 was reached, at which figure Mr J. W. Lawes, of King Street, South Shields, became the purchaser.

Source: Shields Daily Gazette 21 April 1890