South Shields wartime photographer is focus of attention

Amy Flagg, the photographer who documented wartime South Shields.
Amy Flagg, the photographer who documented wartime South Shields.
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Renowned local film-maker Gary Wilkinson has recorded the lives of many formidable and extraordinary women over the years.

Now he is focusing on another equally fascinating female for his latest project – and he is calling on Time Of Our Lives readers to help him with the film.

Back of Chapel House.

Back of Chapel House.

I’ll let Gary take up the story.

“Your readers might be interested in this story, and help me in finding out any information for my next documentary,” writes Gary.

“After making documentaries with the theme of ‘Strong Women of Tyneside’ including Jarrow MP Ellen Wilkinson and Eileen O’Shaughnessy, who was George Orwell’s wife, and very influential in his writing especially Animal Farm and 1984, my next documentary is about the local historian and photographer Amy Flagg.”

Amy was born in 1893 and lived in Westoe Village, where she produced some extensive research and writing about South Shields, the town she loved.

“Amy was a member of the South Shields Photographic Society and volunteered at the Ingham Infirmary,” explains Gary.

“Sadly she died in 1965, the year I was born.

“As official photographer, she captured the air raid damage done to the town during the Second World War.”

One of those raids brought destruction to her own home, as Gary reveals.

“Chapel House, where she lived, didn’t escape the bombing.

“In her extensive reports she wrote: ‘At 0045 hours on April 16, four bombs fell in the grounds of residential property in Westoe.

“‘The first, on the edge of a field at Seacroft, failed to explode, and was dealt with by the bomb disposal unit at a later date.

“‘The second and third fell in the gardens of Fairfield and Eastgarth respectively, the last one on the lawn, 10 yards from Chapel House.

“‘No casualties were reported, but considerable damage was done to a large number of houses in the neighbourhood’.”

Gary says the Central Library, in South Shields, has the photographic collection, which it has made them available to see at www.southtynesideimages.org

“I am looking for anyone who remembers Amy when she was living in Chapel House, Westoe Village, to help me with the making of this film.

“The film aims to give her the recognition she deserves.”

If anyone can help, they can contact me and I will pass on their details to Gary.