Scott Carlucci, who owns Clifton Hotel, in Ocean Road, South Shields, was amazed when builders – who are working on his newly acquired property next door – found the documents shoved into the chimney breast.
The bundle, which was covered in soot, has numerous pages, and appears to be biographies of prominent people who were living in the borough during the late 1800s.
One collection of papers is about the life of a chemist and councillor called James D Rose, who lived in Jarrow.
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Mr Carlucci said: “We are expanding the Clifton at the moment and bought next door so we can have more room.
“The builders were removing next door’s fireplace, so the walls can be knocked through and a new doorway can be created, and that’s when they found the letters stuffed up the chimney. It’s impossible to say if they’d been thrown on the fire to be burnt and somehow got stuck there, or perhaps they were put there for safe keeping.”
He added: “They’re very hard to read as the handwriting is so old-fashioned and many of the pages are dirty from the soot.”
The unknown author charts the life of Mr Ros,s who appears to have run a very ‘well respected’ chemist in Ormonde Street, Jarrow.
The notes state Mr Ross was ‘still quite a funny man having been born the year 1868’.
It’s thought that the papers could have been written not long after 1898 – as the author refers to Mr Ross as having ‘recently been elected to the town’s council in 1898’.
Mr Carlucci said: “I know the house was built in 1889, and it wasn’t turned into a guest house until much, much later, in the sixties.
“I have no idea why the author was writing about this councillor. Perhaps he was doing research for a book.
He added: “It would be great to know if there used to be a famous writer living here though, and I’d love it if anyone had any information.”
l Do you know anything about James D Rose or the letters? Anyone with information can call 0191 455 1610.