IT has been in my mind, from time to time, to go on the hunt for family graves in Shields.
Not all have headstones, though, I believe, so would not be instantly identifiable.
Descendants of James Allender may have no difficulty finding his, however.
Its dimensions in Westoe Cemetery would certainly have distinguished it at the time.
One or two folk may know that the town is the last resting place of the man who was known as The Irish Giant.
I’d heard of him before, but was gratified to only recently come across the reporting of his death, locally, in the summer of 1886.
Allender had been born in Londonderry and, by maturity, was seven-and-a-half feet tall and weighed 27 stones.
That this told on his health is suggested by the fact that he was only 38 when he died.
It’s quite a sad story actually because Allender had been ill for some weeks before his death and, in the end, died in the workhouse at Harton.
What exactly brought him to Shields, I’ve not yet been able to establish.