After researching the life and making a documentary about South Shields historian & photographer Amy Flagg, I was impressed by Amy’s work and thought she deserved recognition so I put forward a nomination for a blue plaque to be placed in the town to celebrate her achievements.
Reported to be a shy and quiet person, Amy was one of only a few female photographers working in the UK when she started photographing the housing clearances along South Shields riverside in the 1930’s.
In addition to her love of photography, she had a passion for researching the town’s history and collated notes about the towns shipbuilding heritage which were later published in 1979.
Amy volunteered at the Ingham Infirmary and South Shields Public Library, she also enjoyed her garden at home in Chapel House, Westoe Village. In 1962, she gave the grounds of Chapel House to South Shields Corporation to enable the expansion of the Marine and Technical College.
On her death in 1965, she left a substantial sum of money to the infirmary and bequeathed her extensive collection of photographs and notes to the towns Library.
Amy’s work is most notable for the haunting images she took in the aftermath of enemy air raids during the Second World War, they are an important and unique record of the impact of war on the town.
She was a very courageous woman, at nearly 50 years old she was climbing onto bomb sites and demolished houses to get the picture – where the bombs dropped she captured the scars with her camera.
Amy printed the photographs in her dark room at home and the images are her most precious legacy. When I first came across them back in 2008 in the Local History Library I thought they looked incredible and to find that a lady from South Shields took them was an inspiration.
So it was a great pleasure to be invited to see a blue plaque officially unveiled on 8 March 2022 to celebrate the life and work of Amy Flagg. The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay, unveiled the plaque at Chapel House.
“It was a great honour to unveil the blue plaque to commemorate Amy Flagg. She was an incredible photographer and historian. She also dedicated much of her time volunteering in her community”.
“This plaque is a tribute to Amy’s life, her remarkable contribution to the rich heritage of the area and the amazing legacy she left behind. She will be remembered for many years to come.”
The Mayor was joined by the Mayoress Jean Copp, Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Tracey Dixon and Deputy Leader Councillor Joan Atkinson, two actors from Beamish Museum plus residents of Westoe Village also joined the celebration.
To mark the occasion South Shields Museum and Art Gallery is showcasing some of Amy’s photographs and her research, plus the documentary (link below) will be shown. The display is available until June.
There’s also a small display of Amy’s work in South Shields new cultural centre and library, The Word.
Thanks to South Tyneside Council and South Shields Museum & Art Gallery for additional information.
Alikivi March 2022.