Soldier, draper, rugby star and a royal escort - the family which played a remarkable role in South Tyneside history
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Peter Chapman has detailed his relatives’ role in local life stretching back more than 200 years, in a new book called ‘A Tyneside Heritage’.
Four generations had a part to play, right back to Robert Chapman who was a draper from 1811 to 1894 and a councillor. But Robert went even further and invested in a ship which sailed to destinations such as St Petersburg, Constantinople and the Black Sea.
The Chapman history continued when his son Henry Chapman JP founded a chartered accountancy practice and a Building Society.
Three of his sons and a daughter served in the First World War. Only two returned and they were Dr Fred Chapman, the famous England rugby player, and Col. Robert Chapman.
Peter added: “Robert became a South Shields Borough Councillor and Mayor, and Member of Parliament for Houghton-le-Spring in County Durham.
"In the 1930s he lobbied hard for Government funding for the North East ‘Special Area’, becoming Chairman of the new and very successful Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead.
"Knighted after the Second World War he became Vice Lord-Lieutenant of County Durham, escorting the young Princess Elizabeth in Durham City. He and his wife Hélène entertained Princess Marie Louise at their home in Cleadon, well known for its house parties and summer fêtes. He was made a baronet a few years before he died.”
Peter said: “The book is a pioneering work of interwoven local and family history.”
As for Peter himself, he read Social Anthropology at Cambridge, took a Master’s degree in Social Administration at the London School of Economics and enjoyed a career in housing, founding a niche consultancy, Chapman Henry Associates.
He has also been the chairman of charities including: the National Communities Resource Centre; the Friends of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge and a local youth charity Kensington Dragons Football Club.
He is an Honorary Life Member of the South Shields Local History Group.
And now people can buy his book. The cover price is £25 and it is available from Waterstones and Blackwells. Peter Chapman has supplied copies to The Word in the South Shields Market Place where copies can be purchased for £17.50.