Boxer was a legend at Hawthorn Leslie

Boxer Jimmy James.
Boxer Jimmy James.

You will remember that John Stansfield had asked readers if they could tell him more about an old South Shields boxer called James ‘Chippy’ Stansfield.

‘Chippy’, who was born in 1916, fought dozens of bouts between 1932 to 1941.

Well, thanks to John Graham, of South Shields, we can add a bit more detail to the story of this formidable boxer.

Mr Graham says: “I remember Chippy, I used to work with him at Hawthorn Leslie’s prefabricated building on the Bede Estate, Jarrow, from 1963 to 1966.

“He worked on the production line, a real nice guy, and a legend among the Jarrow lads.

“He must have been in his late 50s then. When the firm relocated we were all made redundant, and I never saw him again, hope this fills in a gap.”

It certainly does, many thanks John.

Meanwhile, local amateur historian Andrew Grant has been back in touch, with more memories about his family.

Andrew says his mother, Anna Phyllis Grant’s maiden name was Charlton, a family which had a troubled and violent past.

“From my research, I have discovered that my mother and I are descendants of the Border Reivers or Border Raiders.

“At the time of the Border Reivers, families who lived on both sides of the English and Scottish border fought each other, when many people were killed.

“The Charltons, I understand, made their reputation as soldiers and politicians, and fought in many of the famous English victories of the time, such Crecy, Agincourt and Poitiers.”

Years later, Andrew’s family were no longer men of violence, but stonemasons, folk musicians and even a would-be aeroplane inventor!

“My uncle was in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War,” explained Andrew, who is a member of the group behind The Streets of South Shields publications.

“He was torpedoed six times by the Germans. This very brave man survived, thank goodness, to return safely to his family in South Shields, much to the family’s relief.”

A friend of the family, meanwhile, also suffered at the hands of the Germans, but refused to be bowed down by Adolf Hitler’s troops, as Andrew goes on to reveal.

“My mother’s family had a good family friend who was a Merchant Navy officer, who came from a working class family in South Shields.

“His ship was sunk by the Germans, yet despite this he stood up in his life raft and sang ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules The Waves, Britons Never Never Shall Be Slaves’ when he was being shot at by the Germans.

“This brave man was captured and ended up in a German prison camp, where he was held captive for four years from 1941 to 1945, with very little food to eat.”

Andrew’s great grandfather, John Charlton, was less fortunate.

“He was a bosun on a ship at the time, and died when he fell down the hold of a neighbouring ship while crossing from his own. Sadly he was only 26 when he lost his life.”

Finally, Andrew recalls another interesting chapter in his family’s more immediate past, when one of his cousins and his family were living in Romania during the days of Ceausescu.

“He was working there when the communists ruled the country. My cousin tells me that it was very hard not to allow the poverty of ordinary people to upset you.

“He said the Romanians were poor, but they were very kind to my family, something for which I am very grateful.”