GOOD OLD TYNESIDE with Local History Collector, Norman Dunn

77 year old Norman from Hebburn, who started work as a fitter at Wardley & Follonsby Collieries in the ‘60s, has been collecting Tyneside photographs and postcards for over 20 year.

I started collecting because I asked my old aunt if she had any old photos and she said ‘We had a lot of photos, but when we moved to a new Council house, we just binned them’. How many other families did that when they moved home, not realising the value of a photo ?’

‘Over the years I’ve helped three authors with photos for their books, and I’ve often sent photos to be used in the Shields Gazette and Evening Chronicle. Now it’s my time to publish, but not just one book – I’ve published four’.

‘I’ve wanted to compile this set of books whilst my enthusiasm and memory is still good. I’ve always been interested in local history that’s why I decided to compile the photo’s into books’ explained Norman.

Tram and St Mary’s Church, Heworth.

A number of years ago I volunteered on a South Shields Library project digitizing thousands of photographs from their archive, so recognise some of the images.

Photographers Amy Flagg, James Cleet and William Emmett done an excellent job capturing Tyneside images and left behind a marvellous legacy.

A glaring omission in this book is apart from Dunn’s family photos, no photographer’s names are credited or where they were obtained originally. South Tyneside Council hold a lot of the original images and are available to view on their official website. https://southtynesidehistory.co.uk/

St Oswalds Church, Hebburn c.1900

‘I’ve collected photos for many years but unfortunately never kept a list of people who loaned me them. I just want to share them with people’ said Norman.

‘I always told my contributors that their photos are valuable. They want to share their photos with others, and often said ‘what use is a photo stuck in a drawer under the bed or in a cupboard’.

‘If they sell I might do another set of books. So far I’ve had marvellous feedback from people who’ve already bought books. They all said fantastic value with so many photos in it’.

‘Good Old Shields’, ‘Good old Hebburn’, ‘Good old Jarrow’ & ‘Good old Bill Quay, Pelaw, Wardley, Felling & Heworth’ are priced at £15 each plus £3 p&p.

To buy a copy contact Norman on  07958 120 972  or email norman@dunn247.co.uk 

Interview by Gary Alikivi   June 2021

FAMILY TIES #3: JARROW SLAKE & THE GALWAY HOOKER

Fishwives by the river Corrib, returning from Galway’s fish market.

In 2007 I was over in Ireland researching my family tree when I picked up a book ‘Old Irish Country Life’ by Hugh Oram. It was packed with photographs taken at the beginning of the 20th century of people working on the land, some I’ve included here along with text by Oram.

From fishwives to seaweed harvesting, weaving and cutting turf, the wonderful black & white pictures illustrated a harsh life – and these were similar scenes to what my ancestors lived through.

A branch of my family came from Galway so I was drawn to a picture that features fishwives by the river Corrib, returning from Galway’s fish market. I was also interested in the photograph of a couple of fishermen’s wives repairing nets – as faint as a pencil drawing.

Galway fishwives repairing fishing nets.

The Claddagh, meaning ‘stoney foreshaw’ in old Irish, was one of Ireland’s oldest fishing villages on the western shoreline of Galway city. The sea off Galway was rich in cod, herring and mackerel. The boats would all go out in the evening, drifting overnight and bring in hundreds of mackerel by dawn. In the 19th century over two thousand people fished the bay using the traditional boat with its red sails – the Galway Hooker.

Galway fish market which stood across the river Corrib from The Claddagh where fishermen lived.

In 1985 my Grandfather wrote his memories of an Irish family living in Jarrow, North East England.

I suppose when they were built they would be a hamlet outside of Jarrow. There were three communities like this at the time; the Old Church at Jarrow Slake, pronounced ‘Slacks’, where we lived, Quay Corner at the riverside, and East Jarrow over the Don Bridge. The Don was the river that ran past our house.

My mother’s family the Joyce’s, originated in Galway in the west of Ireland. She came from a big family, her brothers, uncles and cousins were all fishermen. I remember her one day telling me about the night they went out fishing in Galway Bay and a big gale blew up. Most of them were lost.

I remember my mother being a very hard working woman. She worked as a stoker in the chemical works over the bridge in East Jarrow. She worked there all through the 1914-18 war, and I remember taking her bait over at dinner time and getting half of it for myself.

Two World Wars happened in my life. The Great War of 1914-18 was on when I started school. We heard the Germans firing their guns on Sunderland. One day we saw a Zeppelin pass over, and I believe it dropped a bomb on Sunderland Docks.

We also went to Quay Corner to watch the Royal Navy ships come in after being in battle. I remember one, HMS Lion, her mast and bridge were all broken up and she had a big hole in her side. Also some tugs towed a great big ‘thing’ up river and moored it at the Slakes. It was like a great big house, and my mother said it was a Royal Naval hospital for sailors wounded in battle. It later became known locally as the Floating Hospital.

The old Jarrow bridge over the river Don at low tide. The slake was over the bridge.

Looking back the things I used to get wrong for seem trivial. Such as playing in the Slakes at low tide and coming in with my feet full of mud or playing on the timbers at high tide. We all did that, we would cut four or five timbers adrift and use them as a raft. But sometimes Mr Beauly the river policeman would catch us and tell our parents.

The slake was also our swimming pool, we all learned to swim there from about the age of six. By the time we were ten or eleven we were swimming in the Don and the Tyne. At high tide the Don was about twelve feet deep and we would dive off the bridge into the river.

When my Grandfather died and was cremated in 1986, his ashes were thrown into the river Don from the old bridge. Sometimes we go back to where we started.

Hugh Oram book published in 2007 by Stenlake Publishing Limited.

Gary Alikivi   May 2021.

VILLAGE NEWS with Jean Stokes, author of a new book on Harton Village, South Shields, North East England.

What inspired you to write the book ?

I am a retired Art teacher and still live in Harton, where I was born and brought up. My father was born in Ferry Street in South Shields near the River Tyne, he took a great interest in the history of the town. I followed in his footsteps and joined South Shields Local History Group, where I’m currently vice chair.

Harton Village 1900 was written for two reasons, firstly with the aim of raising money for St Peter’s Church in Harton and secondly to prove that Harton had been a village. Locally we hear quite a lot of other villages such as Westoe Village and Cleadon Village, but little is made of Harton Village.

My mam and dad always called the shops in Harton ‘the Village’ and someone new to the area thought that this phase was just an affectation, so I decided to prove it wasn’t. I thought I would collect all the lovely, old, rural photos of Harton that I knew existed in the amazing archives at the South Tyneside Libraries and put them into one book.

They show just what Harton Village had been like at the beginning of the twentieth century when my parents were young and were brought on Sunday afternoon walks through the fields from South Shields town centre to enjoy the delights of the bow fronted sweet shop and the little aviary that then existed. I believed lots of other people would be interested in discovering what the village had looked like and hoped therefore the book would make a profit which I could donate to the church.

I had a copy of the Godfrey Map of Harton from 1895, bought at the museum in Ocean Road, and knew there was a census in 1891, and another in 1901, and since the earliest photographs of the village were from the turn of the century, I decided upon 1900 as a good date to explore just who lived in the village and what happened there.  

I’m interested in maps and buildings but also people and their lives. However, unless you lived in a grand house or a pub, the 1891 census does not provide information about where this or that family lived. 


A photograph from about 1945, from the South Tyneside Libraries site showing an awning on the left which belonged to the Ship Inn off sales. The pedestrian is walking west along Marsden Road, nearly at the junction with Sunderland Road, by the smithy and the cottage where Jemima had lived, the one with the open door. The smithy and cottages were pulled down in 1964 to provide a car park.

Did you come across any unusual stories when researching?

Amazingly I found a hand drawn map of Harton Village dated 1896 among church documents, naming each family and where they lived. A truly amazing piece of luck. With this, the census returns and the Godfrey Map I tried to bring the village to life with names and a little information about some of the individuals.  

A small example is that of widowed lady, Jemima Brown who in 1900, lived in one of the cottages next to the smithy, to the east of the Ship Inn. She was at that time the oldest inhabitant in the village.  

In 1902, when she was 89 the country celebrated the coronation of Edward VII and on Saturday 28th June Harton Village Council organised, as part of their coronation festivities, a drive for the old people of the parish in a horse drawn omnibus where she was given pride of place. The bus was provided courtesy of the manager of the South Shields Tramways Company, Mr John Wilson, and drove from Harton to Marsden, along the coast to Whitburn, returning through the fields to Cleadon and back to Harton.  

One of the omnibuses that travelled to Harton from King Street in 1900. Photograph from South Tyneside Libraries. Most probably this was one of the two buses that took Mrs Brown and the other elderly village residents on their delightful trip.

What did you use for research ?

Along with the Godfrey Map of 1895, the church warden’s handwritten plan with notes and the census returns, I also had access to some scrapbooks of the period held in the church which contain cuttings from the Shields Gazette and other printed information. On top of this I was also fortunate to be able to contact the descendants of some of the families I was writing about and obtain family photographs.  

The South Tyneside Library history site also provided some superb photographs.

What are you doing now & have you any projects planned for the future ?

I am busy working on a second book in what is to become a series on Harton, this will be called Harton Township 1921. The idea for this came about during my earlier research as I began to appreciate that Harton was far more than just the village and in fact was a significant area that stretched to the east along the coast from Trow Rocks to Marsden and westward as far as Simonside.  

The area in the west, which included Harton Colliery, was taken into South Shields in 1901 but it was not until 1921 that Harton was completely subsumed into The County Borough of South Shields. This second book will aim to tell the story of Harton Township from medieval times to 1921.  

I hope to have the new book ready for November 2021 to fully mark the anniversary of the end of rural Harton and the housing boom that covered the fields of the township.

Link to South Tyneside images: https://southtynesidehistory.co.uk/

Interview by Gary Alikivi  April 2021.