Tributes to former Shields Gazette reporter Peggie Robinson who became female Fleet Street pioneer

Tributes have been paid to a reporter of ‘indomitable spirit’ who started her career on the Shields Gazette before moving on to Fleet Street.

By Kevin Clark
Thursday, 09 May, 2019, 06:00
Peggie Robinson

Peggie Robinson, who passed away last weekend, was also a highly-respected mountaineer and yachtswoman, as well as a reporter who covered everything from the Yorkshire Ripper to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

After working on the Gazette – where for a time she was churches correspondent – she made Sheffield her home, arriving in the city soon after joining the Daily Express around the end of the war, but she never lost her love for her South Tyneside roots.

When she joined the Express she was one of the few women reporters on national newspapers.

Peggi, 97, whose family lived at Cleveland Street, was an active member of the National Union of Journalists, a life-long supporter of the Labour Party, and played the bagpipes in pipe bands in and around Sheffield.

As well as the Ripper and the Troubles, she also covered Britain’s ‘Cod War’ with Iceland, pit tragedies and miners’ strikes, and was well-known throughout Yorkshire.

She gained legendary status for her tenacity, and was still contributing articles in the 1980s.

Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner even remembered her in his biography, describing her as a ‘go-getter’ who had temporarily ‘acquired’ his passport while writing about him.

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She died on Saturday, May 4, in a city nursing home after a long spell of poor health.

“Peggie faced her failing health with the same feisty, indomitable spirit that she showed throughout her life, whether it was chasing a story, skippering her offshore racing yacht or climbing Alpine peaks, including the Matterhorn,” said a close friend, journalist Clark Herron.

For many years she organised collectors in south Sheffield for the annual Poppy Appeal for the Legion’s work for service people and their families in memory of her father.

Peggie herself spent some time in the army during the Second World War and her father, Robert Robinson, MBE, served in the Merchant Navy in both world wars.

He was captain of the Empire Lough when he was killed in 1944, just after supporting the D-Day invasion.

Peggie may have inherited some of her character from him. To show his contempt for the German’s vaunted ‘Fortress Europe’ while he was landing men and equipment, he played excerpts from The Merry Widow at full blast over the ship’s loudspeakers.

Peggie’s funeral will take place on Thursday, May 23, at 1.15pm, at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium, Sheffield.