There was money in salvage for tug-boat owners

Looking downriver at North Shields circa the First World War.
Looking downriver at North Shields circa the First World War.

Pictures that show the diversity of shipping on the Tyne in years gone by are always welcome.

This is a lovely one from Kevin Blair, looking downriver at North Shields. There is no date for it, but it’s possible it’s from around the time of the First World War.

Seeing the tugs made me smile, because I’d not long since been reading up on a rather amusing case that had come up before the Admiralty Division just a few years before the Great War, where a judge was faced with the task of allotting salvage money in respect of a number of tugs and their crews.

Salvage has always been an earner for tugs, and for anyone else involved in the recovery of a vessel from disaster.

In this case it was a steamer called the Ocean Prince which, in gales, had broken free of her moorings and had been drifting free in the Tyne.

The potential for damage was huge – both to the ship itself, and others, not to say quaysides etc.

She was eventually got hold of, and in the subsequent case, the judge distributed a total of £2,202 in salvage money – nearer £100,000 today.

Between £150 and £300 was awarded to the five tugs and their crews involved; a further £45 to the first two men who went aboard and secured her, and £100 to “George Pinnock and others of Palmer’s dock labourers.”

A further £32 went to the men who manned two Palmer’s launches.

But no one was obviously going to be missed out, as it was noted: “Of this latter sum, James Dickie, dock manager, would receive £2, but his lordship said that had not the claim been admitted, he would have given him nothing.”