THE history of one of South Tyneside’s oldest buildings is brought to vivid life in a new exhibition.
The Many Faces of Jarrow Hall traces the life of the former family home and its part in the industrial and social development of the town.
Now part of Bede’s World, Jarrow Hall’s rich story has been uncovered by museum curatorial assistant Sophie Anderton.
Terry Kelly visited the exhibition, which opened this week.
JARROW Hall is part of the rich fabric of the town’s history.
Built by industrial pioneer Simon Temple, who moved into the Georgian house in 1786, the hall has enjoyed good and bad times, but still survives.
Now a Grade II-listed structure, and thought to be the second-oldest building in the town – after St Paul’s Church and monastic remains – Jarrow Hall, in Church Bank, was originally built by Temple as a rather grand home, fit for a successful industrial pioneer.
Temple opened the Alfred Pit in Jarrow and later expanded his business empire into shipbuilding and other concerns.
Unfortunately, he overstretched himself and was eventually declared bankrupt.
An unpaid bill for a chandelier was apparently the final straw and he hit hard times.
The Westoe-born entrepreneur ended his days living with the man who used to be his butler.
Jarrow Hall was later taken over by the Drewett family – one member would eventually give his name to the park next door – who took over some of Temple’s industrial empire.
When it ceased to be a family home after the First World War, it was bought by the Mercantile Dry Dock, who leased it to the adjacent Shell Mex works.
A man called Taylor, who worked for Shell Mex, lived in the house with his family for much of the 1920s.
Jarrow Hall was later taken over by the old Jarrow Borough Council and was used as everything from an air raid warden base during the Second World War to a council depot.
By the late 1960s, the hall was a sad shadow of its former self, before being reborn as a museum in the 1970s.
Museum curatorial assistant Sophie Anderton has spent months researching The Many Faces of Jarrow Hall.
The display showcases some of the many items linked to the historic hall, some loaned by descendants of the Drewett and Brown families.
The 1836 wedding dress worn by Isabella Drewett is featured, along with an early photograph of the same previous tenant from 1845, and even her spectacles from Victorian times.
There are vintage family copies of The Bible, The Book of Common Prayer
and Hymns Ancient and Modern, plus a fish knife and other household items,
all illuminating the lives of previous tenants.
Catherine Chaytor, another occupant, tried to help the dole-hit town just after the Jarrow March of 1936 by establishing a toy factory. Some of the wooden toys made by Jarrow’s jobless are featured in the permanent exhibition.
The quality of the toys was such that some were even sold at Harrods in London.
Sophie Anderton said: “The history of Jarrow Hall is really fascinating and there was too much material to use in the exhibition.
“I would like to produce a small booklet about the history of the hall.
“What makes the exhibition extra-special is that many of the items on display have never been shown in public before.”
The exhibition includes a timeline, explaining how the history of Jarrow Hall intersects with the industrial growth of the town itself.
The Many Faces of Jarrow Hall received financial support from South Tyneside Council, while members of Jarrow and Hebburn Local History Society supplied archive material.
Entry to the exhibition is included in the normal admission price.
* For more details, call Bede’s World on 489 2106.