An interesting article from the Blyth News and Wansbeck Telegraph dated 18 th October, 1898.
The nasty easterly gale which commenced on Friday continued over Sunday, and a series of thrilling and exciting incidents were witnessed at Blyth, where the sea was rolling like mountains in from the eastward. Notwithstanding the boisterous wind and heavy sea, four vessels attempted and successfully made the harbour during Sunday, their names being the Normand, from Caen; John Shelley, from London; Woodhorn, from Hamburg; and Canute, from Aalburg. The safe entrance of these vessels was anxiously watched by crowds of people on shore. During the afternoon, however, the coastguards on duty at the Blyth station received a telephonic message from Newbiggin stating that a small vessel flying distress signals was approaching the coast. At three o-clock a sloop, the Fremad, flying the Norwegian colours, was observed heading for the harbour. She had a good offing, and appeared to be running direct into the harbour. When a short distance off the piers, she was struck by a extreme heavy sea, which swept her decks and carried her out of her course. The captain attempted to run northward under the staysail and jib, but he had no sea room, and with the heavy seas breaking over her continuously the vessel rapidly drifted in towards the Sow and Pig Rocks, one of the most dangerous ridges on the North-East Coast. About a quarter of a mile from the shore she struck on the outer ridge, but though she heeled over and dipped her sails she quickly righted herself. Several times she bumped on the rocks, and the captain and crew took to the rigging, but eventually the Fremad appeared to drift into a channel between the rocks, and stranded stern foremost on a small stretch of shingly beach half a mile north of the East Pier. The Blyth Life-Saving Company, under the command of Captains Geo. Lamb and E. H. Kelsey, were on the beach in considerable force, having succeeded with considerable difficulty in transporting their gear over the rocks and sandhills and fixing it in position on the almost inaccessible portion of the beach opposite where the vessel stranded. The sloop was drifting inshore when the first rocket, which missed the vessel, was fired, but at the second attempt the line was carried over her bowsprit, and was secured. The breeches buoy was run out, but apparently the crew, who were all Norwegians, did not understand the working of it. The buoy was hauled ashore, and Adams, the coastguard in charge of the Cambois station, gallantly volunteered to go through the surf with the whip. He was successful in his perilous attempt, and, though the brigadesmen were hampered considerably by the crowd pressing upon them, they succeeded in a very brief period in bringing the crew to shore in safety, and they were promptly taken charge of and escorted to the Seven Stars Inn, North Blyth, the hostelry of Mr Geo. Coulthard, who had made every provision for the accommodation and comfort of the shipwrecked crew. Coastguardsman Adams was heartily (sic) cheered by the crowd for his splendid gallantry. The names of the crew were:- R. Rasmussen, Captain. T. Fargerssen, Mate. O. Oliversen, Able Bodied Seaman. P. Simonsen, Able Bodied Seaman. The Fremad was a Norwegian sloop, 51 tons register. The port of registry was Sandnaes, and the owner was S. Fargenssen, of the same place. She was bound from a French port to Dysart, in Scotland. The captain says he had been attempting to beat off the land all day, but heavy seas were incessantly breaking over the sloop, which rapidly drifted inshore. He was attempting to put into Blyth, when a heavy sea struck the vessel and carried her northward. She struck the rocks several times, and he was of the opinion that the "whole bottom was out of her. She was full of water, and must in a few minutes have foundered. The captain expressed his appreciation of the gallant efforts by the life-saving company which had resulted in the rescue of himself and the crew. A melancholy incident, which created a profound sensation among the thousands of townspeople who thronged the hills and beach at the time, was associated with the gallant work of rescue. It was apprehended that the sloop Fremad would strand on the rocks out of reach of the life-saving apparatus, and the North Blyth or Cambois lifeboat, commanded by Coxswain J. W. Tinning, was called out, and, with all despatch run down from the boathouse to the beach to be in readiness. When the sloop struck the rocks for the first time, an attempt was made to launch the lifeboat, and at the last moment the under-coxswain, Mark Fairhurst, one of the most fearless among the lifeboatmen on the coast, arrived and jumped into the boat. The craft was not many yards from the shore, when she was capsized by the heavy breakers, and, though she righted almost immediately, the whole of the crew were cast into the sea. Fortunately, there was no lack of willing hands to attend to the struggling crew, who were all dragged ashore. With the exception of the under-coxswain, the members of the crew were little the worse for their immersion, but Fairhurst, who in his haste to get into the boat had neglected to put on his lifebelt, was quite unconscious when he was taken from the sea. Several doctors were speedily in attendance, and artificial means of respiration were resorted to, but without avail, life being quite extinct. The deceased, who was about forty years of age, resided in Northumberland Street, Blyth, and leaves a widow and family of nine children. Coxswain Tinning, of the lifeboat Oswald, Sarah, and Jane, which capsized, received an injury to one of his arms from an oar. The remainder of the crew managed to scramble out of the boiling surf unhurt, however. The stranded vessel lay with her stem seawards, on the sands at North Blyth, and will probably become a wreck. The work of the Blyth Life-Saving Brigade on Sunday was, without doubt, the smartest performance in history, the rescue of the vessel's crew being completed with conspicuous celerity. A local record time was established in getting communication. The hawser was not sent on board the Fremad, the whip line only being used. Whilst this proved simple, it meant that the rescued men, immediately they got into the breeches, were dipped in the boiling surf. Recognising this, one of the Blyth coastguardsmen, Charles Field, waded into the surf towards the stern of the vessel, up to neck in the water, and rendered the necessary assistance. Several of the brigadesmen also plunged in up to the waist and assisted the men, who were terribly exhausted. Yesterday morning the Fremad had washed close up to the sea bank. Her rudder is partly gone, her port side being smashed in. The keel and bottom are also considerably damaged, and as she is now, she looks like becoming a total wreck. The Late Coxswain. An inquest was held yesterday on the body of Fairhurst, when a verdict of "Death from misadventure" was returned. The unfortunate lifeboatman, Fairhurst, was, besides being under-coxswain of the north side boat, head coxswain of the lifeboat at the south side of the river. A committee has been formed with the object of arranging a big naval funeral, which is to take place on Wednesday. Through the death of Mark Fairhurst on Sunday in the melancholy lifeboat accident the Blyth F.C. lose one of their most ardent supporters. Mark followed the fortunes of the local club with a keenness and enthusiasm characteristic of the class to which he belonged - the foyboatmen. Fairhurst, who played full back on Saturday for Blyth, was deceased's nephew. Deceased, we understand, was a spectator at Saturday's match at Blagdon Terrace."
Report in Blyth News and Wansbeck Telegraph under the caption "Funeral of Coxswain Fairhurst. Dated 21.10.1898.
Though a drizzling rain was descending, and raw bleak weather prevailed when the funeral of Coxswain Fairhurst took place on Wednesday afternoon, there was an extraordinary demonstration of public sympathy. Along both sides of Northumberland Street, where deceased lived, and fromwhere the cortege started, hundreds of people congregated, it being almost impossible for pedestrians to get along the route, so dense was the assemblage. The lifeboatmen, wearing their cork belts and badges, preceded the hearse, immediately in front of which were some of the local officials of the National Lifeboat Institution. The coffin was wrapped in the Union Jack, and was covered with beautiful flowers. Six foyboatmen, Messrs Valentine, Davison, Fulton, Barnsley, Hawkes, and Bower, fellow workmen with deceased, acted as under bearers. Following the hearse came the Life Saving Brigade in uniform, coastguardsmen, harbour workmen and officials, and tradesmen and the general public. The procession was a very considerable one. Mr. Shepherd curate of St. Cuthbert's Blyth, conducted the burial ceremony.”
Report in Blyth News and Wansbeck Telegraph, 21.10.1898, under the caption Fairhurst Relief Fund:
At a largely attended meeting, presided over by Mr. Jacob Keenlyside, held in the Watch House of the Blyth Life Saving Company, on Monday evening, it was arranged to form a committee for the purpose of raising funds for the benefit of Fairhurst’s widow and family. The following were appointed to act as the committee: - Messrs J. Keenlyside, R. R. Wallace, James Scott (postmaster), J. Harris, E. H. Kelsay, and John Tinning (Coxswain), with Mr Jos. Dunn as secretary, and Mr Wallace as treasurer. On the initiative of Mr Wm. Charlton, solicitor. A subscription list was opened at the meeting, and up to the present the following subscriptions have been received by the treasurer:- Mr. A. Jefferson. £2. 2s. 0d Mr. William Charlton.£2. 0s. 0d Mr. J. Keenlyside. £1. 0s. 0d Mr. J. Nixon. £1. 0s. 0d Mr. Jos. Henderson. £1. 0s. 0d Mr. J. Tinning. £1. 0s. 0d Dr. Newstead. £1. 0s. 0d Mr. Jas. Scott. £0. 10s. 6d Mr. & Mrs. Isherwood. £1. 0s. 0d Collecting sheets have been widely distributed, and any subscriptions sent to the office of this paper will be handed to the treasurer. The Local Committee of the National Lifeboat Institution are working in conjunction with the Town Committee, and no doubt with their amalgamated efforts a respectable amount will be raised for the benefit of the widow and family. Mr Jefferson has kindly offered the free use of the Theatre for a concert. (Note: The Mr. Jefferson referred to, was Arthur Jefferson, manager of the Theatre Royal, Blyth. His son, Stanley Arthur Jefferson, would have been about eight years old at the time, and was presumably living with him. Stanley later became very well known under the pseudonym Stan Laurel.)
Publication in Blyth News and Wansbeck Telegraph, 21.10.1898. under caption On the Death of Mark Fairhurst:
His help was needed and he knew As off toward the wreck he sped, His steps of humane motives led, To save them from a watery bed, Yon small but helpless crew.
The lifeboat lay both taut and trim, His comrades hearts with ardour (sic) beat, As he came up with hurrying feet, And leapt into the vacant seat He knew awaited him.
They saw beyond where duty lay, They saw beyond the wished-for goal, A vessel tossed beyond control, They, lent to save each struggling soul, Pulled manfully from the shore.
Altho between them and their home The seas like mountains rose, While angry billows part and close, But not a soul did courage lose, In that life-saving ark.
The seething waves around them churned, Till one more huge than all the rest Smote their frail craft, stem, stern, and breast, Although each one their (sic) strove his best, Their boat was overturned.
The sea swept oer them in its might, His comrades were but little harmed, Too well prepared to be alarmed, But he being naked and unharmed (sic), Twas an unequal fight.
He bravely struggled to the shore, Where many a warm and willing hand Were reached him as he made the land; But ere they well could understand Mark Fairhurst was no more.
Well may his widows hopes be fled, As looking round her humble cot She sees her poor and helpless lot: But ah the one, she sees him not, Who won her daily bread.