Children benefited from the charity of Christmas past

Was charity behind this children's Christmas party?
Was charity behind this children's Christmas party?

RECENT notes have taken us back to the era of the ‘poor bairns’ galas’ that were held in Shields once upon a time.

These were picnics that were held on the seafront, to which thousands of selected children were marched from the Market Place, and which were funded by charity.

The ethos carried on well into the 20th century, though mercifully by then such benevolence had become less of a public spectacle.

This is an interesting picture – one of those where Cookson Country waves a magic wand and changes the seasons!

This photo of a Christmas party in the town is one of two that have come to me from Kevin Blair.

They each feature a Mayor and Mayoress at a children’s Christmas party, but some of the children are the same in both pictures.

Curiously, though, I recognise at least one little boy from a third picture I have – one showing the distribution of boots through the town’s Shoeless Children’s Fund.

I’m wondering if that is how these youngsters had come to be selected for this treat?

The Shoeless Children’s Fund distributed thousands of pairs of free boots and stockings over the the years.

Surprisingly – perhaps even shockingly – it was still in existence for some years after the end of the last war.