Can you help New Englander solve Shields mystery?

The mysterious CDV.
The mysterious CDV.

In light of the recent spate of queries from readers, both near and far, hoping to solve mysteries emanating from the discovery of old photos, it would be good to have a budding Sherlock Holmes on the Gazette staff.

However, in the absence of the eminent detective or any other super-sleuth, the solution to the problem is, well, elementary – I’ll ask you, the readers for help.

Related item to Brad Purinton's photo.

Related item to Brad Purinton's photo.

So this is the latest poser, and it comes from across the Atlantic, via the South Shields Museum & Art Gallery.

And it’s thanks once more to Adam Bell, Assistant Keeper, Social History, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums who passed on this email from Brad Purinton.

Brad wrote: “I’m a collector of old photographs in Vermont.

“Last year I bought a carte-de-visite (CDV) (a small photographic portrait of a person or persons, mounted on a piece of card) from a dealer here in New England that was made by Ainsley & Runciman in South Shields.

“I don’t know anything about their studio, but the CDV looks like an early one, possibly late 1860s.

“I have a blog where I share some of my photo collections, and I’ve put the photo up there.

“The image shows a group of working people standing in front of a large industrial facility of some kind. I can’t figure out what that facility might be.

“If someone could identify it, it might tell us something about the people in the photo.

“Here’s a link to the blog: https://tokensofcompanionship.blog/2018/02/19/workers-in-south-shields-england/”

Although Adam has done his best to help Brad, this is his reply: “I’m not able to add anything I’m afraid, but Peter’s avid readers may well have some suggestions.”

So it’s over to you. It’s a long way back to when the photo and associated dealer details were about, that’s for sure, but hopefully someone can help. If you can, please get in touch and I’ll pass on your feedback.

Meanwhile, thanks to Shirley Richardson for her recent email.

It read: “I have just read for the first time, the Shields Gazette online.

“Turning to the nostalgia section I was a little bit tearful for my old town.

“I grew up in Stevenson Street, with my nana living in Marsden Street opposite Mr Connar’s shop.

“Sunday mornings, when nana was making the dinner, I used to go over and buy her weekly bottle of Mackeson to drink while she made her scrummy Yorkshire puds.

“Such fond memories of Laygate Lane School and Westoe Girls School.

“I wonder where my contemporaries are now?

“I was Shirley Fox and my dad had a boot and shoe cobblers shop in Frederick Street when I was younger.

“We moved from Stevenson Street up to a newly built house in Kingsley Avenue, Biddick Hall when I was seven.

“We had an inside toilet, a garden and two bedrooms – and yes, a washing machine and larder. We were in a palace.

“Good friends were made and again happy years.

“Thank you for my reminiscing, all because of a photo on the website.

“I will be reading the Shields Gazette from now on, hopefully catching up with more stories and memories.”

Wonderful stuff, good to have you on board Shirley.

And it was good to hear from Paul Stewart, who took a photo of South Shields beach recently, and told us of a bit of the town’s wartime past.

He said: “The sand has shifted further up the beach to reveal this (see the colour picture attached).

“As far as I know, this is where bi-planes used to take off from the beach during the Second World War. My dad mentioned this too.”

Do you remember planes taking off from the beach during the conflict?