GAN CANNY – created by North East sculptor, Ray Lonsdale

Gan Canny sculpture by Ray Lonsdale. pic Alikivi 2022

For non-Geordies reading this post ‘Gan Canny’ is a phrase meaning take it easy. It can be said after yakking with yer marra, putting the world to rights – which means talking to your friend and solving all our problems.

Av’ yer got that reet? Champion. I went into Sunderland city centre to check out the new Fire Station music & theatre venue and stayed for a canny bit o’ scran. If non Geordies are still following that means ‘some nice food’. Also on my list was to see the new sculpture just around the corner in Keel Square.

I visit galleries and museums where fantastic paintings and great skill is on show like in Madrid’s Prado, Scotland’s National and Newcastle’s Laing, unlike the contemporary art in Gateshead’s Baltic which leaves me cold.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen good contemporary stuff in New York’s MOMA and the Pompidou in Paris but the Tracey Emin tent and unmade bed in Tate London some years ago looked like a sixth form art project.

An outside location is a different challenge, the position is all important. Gateshead got it spot on with The Angel of the North placed at the top of a hill on a former colliery next to the A1 motorway and seen by thousands of cars daily. The artist Antony Gormley originally made small models of the design but it was Hartlepool Steel Fabrications who produced what you see now.

Gan Canny sculpture by Ray Lonsdale. pic Alikivi 2022

Gan Canny installed in December 2021,  is the latest work by Ray Lonsdale and is placed a stone’s throw away from where the Vaux Breweries were in Sunderland. Gan Canny is a life sized sculpture of a driver and his assistant and two horses pulling a cart loaded with barrels and crates of Vaux beer. The detail is fantastic with a bucket and shovel for the horse muck – three balls of it – and the assistant feeding the horse lumps of sugar – no doubt the driver’s gesture is ‘gan canny with that sugar’.

Ray also produced 11.01 the nine foot tall soldier at Seaham, 11.01 refers to the first minute of peace, as the First World War armistice started at 11am on the 11th November 1918.

The red steel sculpture now known affectionately as Tommy, is sitting with his helmet on, holding his gun and looking down – is he weary from a day’s fighting and seeing some of his marras being injured or killed ? Or catching his breath and preparing himself to go over the top ?

11.01 – Tommy by Ray Lonsdale. pic Will Binks 2017.

Each time I’ve visited there’s been a quiet reverence shown by people of all ages, paying respects, laying a flower or small wooden cross, maybe reflecting on how wars have impacted the lives of friends, relatives, or their own lives. I experienced a similar atmosphere the other week when I visited The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands.

Lonsdale also created Fiddlers Green at North Shields – a memorial to lost fishermen off the North East coast. Loss is a major theme running through here and the Gan Canny sculpture reminds me of the loss of a slower pace of life. I’m old enough to remember a time when the rag an’ bone man with his horse and cart trotted down the back lane shouting ‘any ole rags’.

But this new sculpture by Ray is to celebrate Sunderland’s connection with Vaux Breweries, who for over 150 year were major employers in the city. Although not the emotional heft of Tommy, Gan Canny is worth going back for.

More works by Ray Lonsdale can be seen right across the North from Gretna Green in Dumfries down to Middlesborough on Teesside.

Alikivi   September 2022

ST BEDE’S JUNCTION RAIL DISASTER with researcher, John Caffery

John with a photo of his Grandfather Thomas Caffery.

The last post highlighted the work of the Hive Storytellers who are based in Jarrow. It featured a story that group member John Caffery came across when he was researching his family tree.

“Thomas Caffery my Grandfather was born in Hartlepool in 1886, and I came across his army service records. They revealed he suffered leg injuries in a serious train disaster at Jarrow. I enquired more about this and searched through old copies of the Evening Chronicle to see if there were any reports”.

”I found there was a communal grave and headstone in Harton Cemetery, South Shields for the passengers of the train who were killed in the accident, but no names for them. They were buried with three named soldiers and remembered on a Commonwealth War Grave. My curiosity got the better of me and I uncovered full details of the accident and confirmed the identity of 17 people killed.”

Disaster at St Bede’s Junction, Jarrow.

Reports tell us that the 17th December 1915 was a cold, damp, foggy morning and a coal train was pushed out of Tyne Dock and up the steep track by a banking engine joining the South Shields to Newcastle line at St Bede’s Junction, a signal box controlled the area.

As visibility was worsening with weather conditions and heavy industrial smog, the banking engine had finished assisting the coal train and waited for the signal to let him know he can return back to Tyne Dock.

A passenger train heading for South Shields passed by as the banking engine driver waited patiently for the signal.  After waiting 5 minutes he sent his fireman to the signal cabin to notify them of their position. Sadly this delay proved disastrous as a Newcastle bound passenger train ploughed into the stationary banker train derailing them both, and damaging two carriages.

Shortly after, an empty goods train heading for South Shields also collided into them and was derailed. The carriage’s wooden construction and gas lighting fuelled horrific fires and damage.

Evening Chronicle newspaper report of St Bede’s Rail disaster.

John added “I found in the newspaper reports that the noise from one steam engine was deafening and carriages of the train were a mass of burning wreckage. One engine driver had a remarkable escape as he was thrown yards away from his engine which had overturned and rolled over the embankment into a field. Men were lying on the ground receiving first aid, screaming was coming from the carriages as one train was on top of the other”.

“Despite heroic efforts of ambulance men from Palmers shipyards, soldiers from Durham Royal Engineers and Tyneside Irish, and a number of railway and policemen plus nearby residents, rescue was practically impossible”.

William Dunlop, the guard, and William Rowe, fireman of a train nearby, ran over and uncoupled the other carriages before the fire spread. Another man who helped to recue injured passengers was Samson Tolliday. Samson was an off duty engine driver who lived near Tyne Dock station. He was travelling in the passenger train when the accident happened.

At the official enquiry in Newcastle he told the inspector that ‘the first outbreak of fire was from a gas jet. If I had been able to get saws I might have got more passengers out. All water tanks on the engine were broken and water was not available’.

The Chief Constable of South Shields made an official statement reported in the Evening Chronicle 18th December 1915 ‘It is impossible to identify the remains of any of the victims, and only a small proportion of the property found at the scene can be traced to the possession of any of the missing passengers’.

John talked about finding more newspapers reports

“There was over 200 people on the passenger train, that early in the morning they would have been going to work, among them there was an accountant, cabinet maker, a tripe preparer, and my Grandfather was going up to Newcastle for some army training. The people that were tragically killed were buried on Christmas Eve 1915. I felt strongly that they should have their own headstone with all their names on”.

The new headstone in Harton Cemetery with the names inscribed, the original headstone on the left.

With a combined effort from local company HVR Electrics, who are based next to Bede metro station where the accident happened, A19 Model Railway Club, Bede Memorials and South Tyneside Council Cemeteries Department, John ensured that an appropriate memorial headstone was installed in Harton Cemetery.

Alikivi   September 2022

LISTEN IN with Lilly Moon from Tyneside’s Hive Storytellers

It was late 2012 when Hive community radio station started broadcasting on-line out of Tyneside’s Jarrow Hall. Over the years they took on a number of projects including a new audio drama group who obtained Lottery funding and found a base in Jarrow’s Perth Green Community Centre – Hive Storytellers was born in September 2019.

But when the Covid 19 pandemic hit in 2020 the on line station lost all funding and community contracts, fortunately the group managed to survive the lockdowns by meeting on zoom once a week.

With the radio station closed the Hive Storytellers continued to create new projects and produce a number of audio plays for podcasts on Spotify, Apple and other feeds. With over 2,500 listeners worldwide, the plays covered local Tyneside stories using a mix of fact and fiction.

Rule 55 is a play based on a rail disaster at St Bede’s Junction, Jarrow in 1915. It was written by Lilly Moon from South Shields and Jarrow born Lorna Windham.

Lilly talked about the inspiration for the story

“I was talking to fellow Hive Storyteller John Caffery one day when he mentioned that his Grandfather was involved in a train disaster at Jarrow. It peaked my interest so I done a bit of research then talked to Lorna about it and we agreed to do something about this hidden story”.

“The project gathered momentum and not only did we write an audio drama, we also put together an exhibition for Bede’s World in Jarrow. We also spoke to A19, the local railway club about this tragic accident who ended up making a diorama model of the train crash, we were very grateful, it was totally unexpected”.

“On the opening night of the exhibition we invited the South Tyneside Mayor and Reverend of the local church St Pauls, she done a blessing. Newspapers and TV crews came and some family members of people who died in the train crash. It was lovely as they met for the first time. We’ve worked on a number of projects now and the local history stories go down really well with the audience”.

The St Bede’s Junction Rail Disaster story will be covered in the next post.

What are you working on now?

“Lorna and I are working on a new series of stories of mystical characters, she has created the characters and we’ve recorded them. They are put on the Woodland Audio Trail at the Lady of the North, Northumberlandia in Cramlington”.

“As people go round the trail they scan a QR code onto their phones that are on the listening posts and hear the stories we’ve recorded. It’s done really well over the summer holidays and we are producing another in November. We’ve had some fantastic feedback”.

For more information contact:

hive_radio_storytellers@outlook.com

Hive Radio Storytellers – Home | Facebook

Alikivi  September 2022

SEARCH FOR THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER – South Shields connection to the Boer War

Ladysmith St, South Shields.

Stories are worked on for days or weeks, and some films took months. To knock it into shape there’s always a lot of pushing and pulling, but when they drag on you know it’s time to think about letting go and finding something new.

But sometimes a story just lands in your lap and quickly comes together without too much work, this is one of those rare moments.

Walking along Ocean Road I was stopped outside The Marine pub by a good friend of mine who told me an interesting story about a connection between a South Shields street and a British soldier from the town who fought in the Boer war 1899-1902.

“He is buried in Westoe Cemetery near Ladysmith Street and there’s an inscription on the headstone. Unfortunately I can’t remember his name, it was a while ago when I saw the grave, but I think it was near the main gates” said 60 year old Sand dancer (native of South Shields) and musician Rob Atkinson.

Rob had just come out of the pub and had a few sherbets so I wasn’t sure if he was pulling my chain but it was a story that peaked my interest as I didn’t know much about the Boer war.

After a quick search the name Ladysmith was revealed as a city in South Africa that was a bloody battleground between British and Boer forces, it was reported thousands of British soldiers were killed there. Also as Rob mentioned, Ladysmith Street runs parallel with Westoe Cemetery.

In further research I found Devonshire – a street in the Tyne Dock area of South Shields – is another name of an infantry regiment who not only served in the First and Second World War but also in the Boer War.

I contacted award winning journalist and local history author Janis Blower and asked if she heard about the South African connection to a soldier from the town?

“The siege of Ladysmith between late 1899 and early 1900 was one of the key events of the war. A number of South Shields men served, mainly in the Imperial Yeomanry and Durham Light Infantry, with some 107 eventually awarded Freedom of the Borough. It’s likely veterans are buried at Westoe and Harton. Do you know his name?”

Westoe Cemetery, South Shields.

To find the headstone of the unknown soldier I took a walk over to the old Westoe Cemetery with its weather beaten headstones, many buried under a mountain of ivy and some toppled over.

Among the resting, lie famous industrial and political people from the town including Dr Thomas Winterbottom, Robert Ingham MP and members of the Readhead shipbuilding family.

Initially Rob had indicated the area where the grave was and luckily after only a few minutes searching where the headstones were still standing, I found it, as I said earlier this story just fell into place. The grave was a family plot with substantial headstone including our man’s details –

George Shepherd died 6th March 1900 through wounds received Feb 27th at the relief of Ladysmith, South Africa aged 29 years.

The search for the unknown soldier ended there but when researching in the local history library I heard of someone who had been looking into his relations involvement in the Boer war, it sounded interesting so I left a contact.

A day later John Caffery got in touch and we arranged to meet. He has been researching his family tree for nearly 20 years,

“I started after our parents died, my wife Veronica also searches her side. My brother in law showed me a photo of a family member called John Robertson. I went to the library and searched through their archives and found a few pieces of information – he was born on 28 August 1883 and lived in the Laygate area of South Shields – then it just spiralled”.

“In a loft we found a box of certificates, medals and photographs from the First World War and the Boer War, all for John, with me being interested in military stuff this was great. I don’t think many people know about the Boer War which was a disaster for the British army. Through more research I found the Boers were backed by German artillery and officers”.

John Caffery with a framed photo of Private John Robertson who served in the 161st company of the 36th Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry.

“Then we found something special, searching through old copies of The Shields Gazette we got to 1902 and found that he was awarded the Freedom of the Borough along with the rest of the Battalion. We’re proud of what he done”. 

Returning to South Shields from South Africa, John married in 1906, lived in South Palmerston Street and found work in the coal pits. But by 1914 the First World War began and he signed up to the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

In 1918 he was wounded and discharged, and after returning home resumed pit work until retirement. Sadly in 1959 John Robertson passed away at 75 year old.

John Robertson’s medals from the First World War.

As John Caffery told me this moving story he expressed only pride and respect for a brave young man who after fighting in one war, signed up to serve in another.

John has worked on a few Tyneside history stories which he will be sharing in the coming weeks plus he told me what he is working on next.

“I’ve been looking into the rest of the soldiers who received the Freedom of the Borough, there was over one hundred, and as always you go off on a tangent and taken down another path where I’ve come across some letters from soldiers and their families from the Northumberland Fusiliers who survived the First World War – some of them break your heart to read”.

“They’ve never been published or displayed and with me being involved with Hive Radio storytellers on Tyneside, we are looking to read them out on a podcast on Remembrance Sunday, November 11, 2022. I think they would like that”.

For more info contact:

Hive Radio :

Hive Radio Storytellers Share Love by Hive Radio Storytellers Podcast (anchor.fm)

Readheads shipbuilders contact:

Tyne Built Ships & Shipbuilders

Alikivi   September 2022.

IT’S GRIM UP NORTH

Newcastle’s Lit & Phil Celebrate Anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall

Lit & Phil, Newcastle, built 1825.

Just two mins from Central Station, Newcastle’s prestigious Lit & Phil historical library are hosting an evening of comedy fun as part of their celebrations to mark the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall upon which the library stands.

A radio sitcom pilot written by Ed Waugh (Sunday for Sammy, Christmas in the Cathedral) and Trevor Wood, which was first broadcast on BBC Cumbria in 2011, will have a script-in-hand read through in October.

Kay Easson, Lit & Phil Librarian, is responsible for bringing the laughter to the library on Westgate Road.

“Ed and Trevor have contributed to our cultural heritage with their impressive canon of professionally produced plays that include international comedy hits Dirty Dusting and Waiting for Gateaux, as well as more serious national successes Maggie’s End and The Revengers.”

Kay added “Hadrian’s Wall is an incredible part of North East history and culture so it was a no brainer staging a read-through of their excellent, irreverent but funny radio play about Hadrian cutting the tape to officially open the wall -it’s really daft!”

Jamie Brown, who recently completed a hugely successful tour as Harry Clasper in the one-man show Hadaway Harry – written by Ed – will direct the 40-minute piece that is set in AD 126 as the wall is being constructed.

“Ed and Trev have always had a distinctive voice and perspective on things and it’s wonderful they are collaborating again on this project. Their observations and humour strike a chord with audiences young and old, so I can’t wait to get It’s Grim Up North on its feet”.

“Having read the script and started to assemble an hilarious cast – audiences are in for a proper belly laugh or two”.

Tickets for It’s Grim Up North, which starts 7pm on Friday, October 28, 2022 cost £6/£8.

Visit  https://www.litandphil.org.uk/events/it-s-grim-up-north-a-script-in-hand-performance-of-a-classic-north-east-sitcom or telephone the Lit & Phil on (0191) 232 0192.

Alikivi   September 2022

PHOTO ARCHIVE: CHANGING FACE of SOUTH TYNESIDE 2010-20

Search the Alikivi photo archive on South Tyneside History website for nearly 2,000 images including Haven Point, Mill Dam, The Word, Seafront, Holborn, Market, North Marine Park & more of the changing face of South Tyneside 2010-20.

ALIKIVI COLLECTION – South Tyneside Libraries (southtynesidehistory.co.uk)

pic. in 2012 the now demolished Wouldhave House, Market, South Shields, today the site of The Word library.

BOYS IN THE BANDS with writer Chris Scott Wilson

Chris Scott Wilson

Yorkshire born Chris has authored eleven books, collaborated on two others, contributed to newspapers and magazines and written promotional material for local and international musicians.

Two of his books highlighted here are Boys in the Bands: Teesside’s Groups 1960-70 and Backstage Pass: Redcar Jazz Club.

“I felt those 1960s needed to be documented, the musical history needs preserving because once it’s gone, it’ll be lost forever” said Chris.

Saltburn born International rock star David Coverdale (Deep Purple/Whitesnake) added…

“Christopher Wilson has written and collated a genuinely touching and refreshing stroll down Memory Lane with this fabulous book. It opens so many joy filled memories of evenings spent in the breath taking company of the original Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Joe Cocker… many of whom I had the extraordinary pleasure of opening for when I was in local bands. A must have and a must read”.  

What inspired you to research and put the books together ?

After writing five westerns, five local history books and a couple of historical fiction books, I wrote a piece about the band Cream in response to a request from an Australian website called Those Were The Days.

Also, two photographers who had covered Redcar Jazz Club were interested, one of them, Dennis Weller, read my piece on Cream and contacted me and proposed working together.

My initial interest in the Redcar Jazz club was ignited one night in 1966 when I sneaked in to watch a band I’d never heard of, they were billed as The Cream. That night changed my life.

I’d seen many acts at the Jazz Club so I set out to create a book I wanted to read, incorporating the club’s story, a full timeline of dates, what the headliners and support acts got paid, photographs, vignettes of the artists and ticket buyers – as many quotes as I could get.

For the designer I had a few ideas about layout and mocked up a few pages to help explain what sort of format we wanted. It was very primitive, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Eventually it was pasted up for the printer and became Backstage Pass : Redcar Jazz Club.

After publication, a big surprise was an unsolicited email out of the blue from Ed Bicknell who managed Dire Straits, Gerry Rafferty, Bryan Ferry and Scott Walker among others, and his email was headed FOREWORD (for the next edition). That in itself was proof he liked the book enough to have his name on it.

In Boys in the Band I look at the 1960’s where many pubs and workingmen’s clubs provided venues for bands who played most nights, a day off was a luxury. Most musicians were content in earning an extra few quid on their day job and having a laugh – others were more ambitious wanting to take it further. But they all started on Teesside honing their musical chops.

Chris drew on his experience as a drummer in the 1960s playing for local bands…

Yes I started playing drums in a band at school then switched to guitar, but after seeing Hendrix live at the Kirklevington Country Club and Cream twice I went back to playing drums and The Wheel played all over Teesside and North Yorkshire and as far south as Birmingham, we also played Annabel’s in Sunderland, the Quay Club in Newcastle and up to Ashington.

Late 60s early 70s I was in Candy Factory a professional club band who played workingmen’s clubs, including the infamous Downhill Social in Sunderland. Also the Bailey nightclub circuit including Change Is and La Dolce Vita in Newcastle, Latinos in South Shields and Wetherells in Sunderland when John Miles and Toby Twirl were on the circuit. We were offered work in South Africa and France but it didn’t feel right.

With a couple of line-up changes Candy Factory morphed into Pretty Like Me with a less friendly club repertoire and we were working from the Mayfair in Newcastle down to London, and picking up university gigs. But the mid-week gig staples were always those kids’ nights in the County Durham clubs when you could play heavy stuff. The mantra there was always, “Can you play The ‘unter or Born To be Wild?” Didn’t matter what else we played, we always played those.

Did you record any of your songs ?

We did cut a couple of demos of self-penned material. First was in a studio in a basement in Newcastle and another in Redcar, but we weren’t satisfied with them. They never seemed to capture what we thought we had. No cassettes then or CDs to bombard A&R guys with, we got a few expensive acetates which all seem to have disappeared now.

When the band later imploded I had to get a ‘proper job’ and working shifts in heavy industry, albeit mostly in laboratories, not conducive to a musical lifestyle. With not playing I needed a creative output and started writing, short stories at first, then books.

Where you surprised about the feedback for Backstage Pass and Boys in the Bands ?

I worried how many people were interested enough to buy a copy of Backstage Pass. In fact I was astonished at how well received it was. There is something to be said for timing, maybe we hit the right moment – after seven years it’s still selling.

It was launched at Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum and the photographers – Dennis Weller, Graham Lowe and I did signing sessions at bookshops. That book had been built around the photographs, which were extraordinary, but there were no images of the support bands except one, who had been personal friends of Graham. I insisted on including a few pages explaining who the support acts were and including them on the gig timeline.

After Backstage Pass was published, several local musicians hinted there had never been anything produced specifically about them, and although many of them had settled for a steady working lifestyle, their playing years, often only a handful, had been a big part of their lives – a big adventure.

I felt exactly like them. I had told stories of how it was – both the good and the bad, and the more I thought about it, more memories came back. I wanted to kick-start their memories too. Since Boys In The Bands has been released…well the comments from local musicians on my website reveal what they thought of it.

What are you working on now ?

I’m putting together a book about the Redcar Coatham Bowl which was open 1973 – 2014. Information and gig records are patchy, especially support bands, I think it’s important to include local musicians who worked just as hard as the headliners, and for a lot less.

At present I’m trying to confirm dates – and as a support bands’ name get mentioned I’m trying to contact them to confirm they played, and if they played other dates in the Bowl as yet unrecorded. This becomes especially difficult when bands are long disbanded and don’t maintain social media pages or websites.

If you have any information that will help Chris in his research or would like to buy his books contact him at his official website: http://www.chrisscottwilson.co.uk

Alikivi    June 2022

SUNDERLAND MUSIC with Ray Dobson & Trevor Thorne

Ray Dobson & Trevor Thorne with their book ‘Music in Sunderland’. (Alikivi collection May 2022)

“Don Airey was in my year at Bede Grammar school and each year there was a concert with the highlight being a band playing pop songs. I remember being impressed with Don playing the school organ on ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Little did we know he would go on to play with Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, and Black Sabbath while also playing on over 300 albums” said Trevor.

An excerpt taken from a book produced in Sunderland by retired teacher Ray Dobson and semi-retired accountant Trevor Thorne. Ray also brought his background as a local music photographer while Trevor has written several local history books.

They hit on a method of working with one taking the lead on a subject and the other chipping in with their own knowledge of different genres from skiffle to rock to punk and bringing it up to date with Sunderland bands Field Music, The Futureheads and The Lake Poets.

Geoff Docherty with his book ‘A Promoters Tale’.

The book also highlights the work of Geoff Docherty “Geoff’s forthright and honest manner endeared him to his audiences and the performers. He is today, remembered for his huge contribution to the musical culture of the North East”.

Ray added “Geoff is primarily known as the most successful rock music promoter in the North East. He was determined to bring quality live music to the area and his first venue was the Bay Hotel in Sunderland where he began by booking Family for the huge fee of £150”.

”The gig was a success and was followed the next week by an unknown band called Free – Geoff remembers people arriving under the illusion that they wouldn’t have to pay an entry fee”.

The Who at the Locarno 1969.

The Bay continued to attract huge stars including Pink Floyd, Tyrannosaurus Rex and The Who. In 1969 Docherty moved to a larger venue and a who’s who of legendary rock bands such as Mott the Hoople, The Kinks and Bowie followed.

“Perhaps Geoff’s greatest achievement was to bring one of the world’s top bands to town. He used his powers of persuasion to talk the rather daunting Peter Grant (manager) around to allow Led Zeppelin to perform at the venue, but on the eve of the event he was told the band would not be coming”.

“This only served to increase his determination and after numerous attempts to impress on Grant that he owed him a gig, it was eventually agreed he could have Zeppelin – twice”.

“Geoff also had a secondary career in band management. The best known of which was Beckett which included Terry Slesser – who later formed Back Street Crawler along with Paul Kossoff. Kossoff even lived with Geoff, under his care, while recovering from addiction”.

“Beckett performed on the Old Grey Whistle Test and had an acclaimed, though not commercially successful album, to their name. Unfortunately, they parted ways on the eve of an American tour and the chance of stardom faded away”.

Trevor added “One of the most intriguing bands we came across was Juice. From posters and online information, they seemed to be everywhere. The band supported Pink Floyd, Free, Blondie, Deep Purple, The Faces, Terry Reid, and Black Sabbath as well as many others. We eventually tracked down the drummer Kelly Davis, who had a fund of tales to tell”.

“It seems they were the go-to support band during the 1970s. Kelly was particularly complimentary about Ian Paice, the Deep Purple sticksman. While they were waiting for their gig to start, Paice went through the drumming routine for ‘Black Night’ with Kelly, taking up an hour and a half of his time to pass on tips on that and other songs. In 2011 Juice got together again and still record songs”.

Kiss album ‘Rock & Roll Over’ released in 1976.

Ray recalls a story about American born songwriter & musician Sean Delaney who is often referred to as ‘The Fifth member of rock band Kiss’ and “had worked with the likes of John Lennon, Cher, Clive Davis and many others. He played a key part in designing the Kiss stage make-up, choreography and pyrotechnics”.

“Sean was raised in Utah but moved to New York where he became involved in the music scene. An accomplished musician in his own right, Sean met producer Bill Aucoin in Max’s Kansas City, it was here the two spotted a new band and, took them under their wing. Under their guidance the band were to become one of the most famous rock bands in the world – Kiss”.

“Several successful years later, having personally produced and co-written songs for both the band and their solo recordings, Sean moved to Arizona. There he was impressed by an English/American band named Smith and Jackson. When the English contingent returned to the UK, Sean resolved to follow them and manage the band”.

“Much to everyone’s amazement, he arrived in Sunderland a few weeks later where he lived with singer Paul Jackson and his family. He became a great friend to many locals and would often stay with my wife Sue and I. Sean fell in love with the local pubs and became a popular figure on the local music scene, where his outrageous eccentricity endeared him to everyone”.

“While in town, Sean produced an excellent album for Smith and Jackson to which he contributed two of his songs. The album was released on RGF Records and was intended for the ears of Gene Simmons (Kiss)”.

“I remember on Christmas Day 2002, at about 4 am, my wife Sue woke me up to ask if I could hear singing downstairs. On closer listening, we realised that it was Sean, who was sleeping on the sofa. Next morning after he left, we found an empty chocolate box with some lyrics scribbled on it. This was probably Sean’s last attempt at song-writing.”

“Sean flew back to the US with some demos of the album but, within a day or so he had a stroke. On 13th April we received a call from Sean’s nephew to say he had passed away. Paul Jackson went home and wrote a song called ‘Ballad of Sean Delaney”.

“Sean left an indelible mark on those lucky enough to be his friends during that last period of his life spent in Sunderland. His funeral took place in Utah and written on the bottom of the gravestone are the four names of Kiss members – Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter”.

More stories and features in ‘Music in Sunderland – Past, Present & Futureheads’  is out now (£9.99 plus £2.80 UK postage) and available at Waterstones (Sunderland), Clays Nursery (Washington), Sunderland Museum, also from Trevor direct at jandmthorne@btinternet.com

Alikivi   June 2022

LOOKING FOR LUCIFER #6

The continuing search for author, artist & historian Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90)

For a number of years I’ve researched the life of Baron Avro Manhattan, who I first came across in 2012, he spent his last years in a terraced house in my hometown of South Shields. ‘Secrets & Lies’ documentary was produced in 2018, a link is at the end of the post.

Avro’s original name was Theophile Lucifer Gardini, the name change is looked at in post #2. This post focuses on Avro and the Second World War and includes research used to script a second documentary about this fascinating character.

In 1938 Gardini was in the UK listed as a Landscape painter living in Machynllech, Wales, and exhibiting his art in galleries including Bloomsbury Gallery in Mayfair, London.

On 10 June 1940 Italy declared war on Britain resulting in thousands of resident Italians being interned, and in Wales, the Aberystwyth police caught up with Gardini. Added to the prisoners of war, another 4,000 Italians were known to be members of the Fascist Party and this increase led to a problem within the UK.

Following offers from Canadian and Australian governments, more than 7,500 internees were shipped overseas aboard SS Ettrick, Duchess of York, Dunera and Arandora Star. Gardini left port on 3 July 1940 onboard the Ettrick bound for an internment camp in Canada.

Record of transfers overseas of aliens and prisoners of war.

Eight month after arriving he suddenly returned to the UK aboard the S.S. Georgic, then two month after that in May 1941 he was released as a ‘special case without restrictions’. A number of questions arise about this period.

Why did he return to the UK from Canada, where was he for the two month before release and why was an Italian who was looked upon as an enemy deemed ‘a special case’ four years before the war ended ?

There is a report that Gardini worked with British intelligence during the Second World War – was he recruited in the internment camp in Canada ? Was this the ‘special case without restrictions’?

Previously Gardini was imprisoned in Italy for refusing to swear to the Fascist oath, I imagine he would have rejected his Italian citizenship and was in hiding from any fascists still living in the UK, we can only speculate until concrete evidence turns up for this period.

During research there has been reports that have been misleading, especially the number of titles on his gravestone. But one he received was confirmed by a reputable organisation.

Listed on his headstone is the title Knight of Malta, reported to be awarded by the British Government for work during the war. To check whether he received this title, I got in touch with Debretts of London – if you’ve got a gong, you will be listed with them.

Friday 7 August 2015 email from Debretts.

I’ve been able to find very little about Baron Manhattan with only the Maltese decoration accredited and recorded – quite rightly too, given his admirable behaviour during WW2. Other than that I’m sorry not to be more help – I was hoping to discover something far more mysterious about him!’  

Debretts, 16 Charles Street, Mayfair, London.

After the war Avro didn’t return to Italy, he settled in the UK and on 3 October 1949 took an oath of allegiance and became a British National. The certificate read – Teofilo Lucifero Gardini, also added was Avro Manhattan, born in Milan, Italy, 6th April 1910 – although on his death certificate in 1990 he was 76. It wasn’t until December 1953 when he was living in Wimbledon, London that he officially changed his name by Deed Poll.

If you have information about Italian born artist, author & historian Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90) please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Link to film:

South Shields, Italian born Baron Avro Manhattan – SECRETS & LIES – doc.film (Alikivi,12 mins 2018). – YouTube

Check the other posts about Baron Avro Manhattan :

LOOKING FOR LUCIFER #3 – Art for Sale. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

LOOKING FOR LUCIFER #2 – Ciao, Avro. | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

LOOKING FOR LUCIFER – The continuing search for author & artist, Baron Avro Manhattan (1914-90) | ALIKIVI : NORTH EAST UK (garyalikivi.com)

Alikivi  April 2021 & update April 2022