Can you help uncover Bone's Hall's past?

It's a building with a most peculiar name and a fascinating history '“ now modern-day residents of what was Bone's Hall, in South Shields, are trying to find out more about it, and secure any old photos readers may have.

The Pilot Office in 1980.
The Pilot Office in 1980.

The call comes from Frank Hancock and Jim Bartnett, who has been researching the history of what is considered to be one of the town’s finest houses.

Jim’s research has no doubt been complicated by the fact that over the years Bone’s Hall (which later became the old Pilot Office) has also been known, by name and address, as Green’s Place, Wellesey Court and Military Road.

Bone's Hall in 1890.

“My neighbour, Frank and I are hoping you and your readers are able to help us find out a bit more information as to when Bone’s Hall was built and who has occupied it during the 19th century.

“I have researched this quite a bit, along with the original Green’s Place, but after all these years information is scarce so I’m looking for ideas on potential sources.

“The existing Green’s Place was originally in four sections, with Military Road running from Mile End Road to Henry Street (where the Turk’s Head pub used to be and now has Arbeia House).

“Green’s Terrace ran from Henry Street to Baring Street and Green’s Place ran from Baring Street to Roman Road, while Blumer’s Terrace ran from Roman Road to The Lawe.

“Military Road was demolished in the 1930s clearances and Green’s Terrace went in the 1960s.

“The whole street was renamed Green’s Place about 1939/40.”

Jim said the main building of Wellesley Court appeared on a 1827 map before the addition of two properties to the east wing which can be seen on an 1855 Ordnance Survey map where it was still called Bone’s Hall.

“One of the later residents, Richard Hansell Bell, notes his address as Bone’s Hall in 1865, though by this time it had long been given a street number of 11 Green’s Place, and the two added buildings numbers 12 and 13 respectively.”

So why Bone’s Place?

“There were several families with the name Bone recorded in South Shields when the building must have been built, pre-1827, at a time when the town was booming,” says Jim.

“But there was only one who seems to have had enough businesses to afford such a place.

“He was Andrew Bone, who had multiple interests as a shipbroker, a wines and spirits merchant, a tallow merchant and a grocer based at 70 Wapping Street but residing on Military Road (which was the term used to cover all the separate terraces and roads leading to the Lawe that now form the modern Green’s Place).

“He married Margaret Robson in 1810 but died in 1828 at the age of 40, after falling from a gangplank of a ship he was visiting and being caught between the ship and the quay, finally succumbing later that day.

“He left a widow and 11 children with an estate worth £4,000 that must have been a small fortune at the time.

“Margaret Bone appears to have become a shipowner about this time which wasn’t uncommon in South Shields, with the booming maritime trade of the time.

“Unfortunately, for whatever reason, she appears in the London Gazette in 1835 in a bankruptcy notification.”

After changing hands several times, the building was then sold to the Tyne Pilotage Commission in 1885 for use as their offices.

“The commission took up residence in 1886 and remained there until 1980 when the property was sold to a developer who converted the main house into four flats (which was to become Wellesley Court) and the properties on the east wing into two separate houses.

“Also in residence at number 11 was the Tyne Lifeboat Society Institute which maintained an office there until the mid-20th century.

“Number 12”, explains Jim, “had become the Wellesley Hospital at about the same time as the pilots arrived. It closed in 1911 and the building was taken over by the then Tyne Pilotage Authority.”

What more do know about Bone’s Hall? If you have any old photos then please send copies them to me and I’ll forward them to Jim and Frank.