Amateur historians seek your help to stage exhibition

Janet Wylie's history group The Streets of South Shields.
Janet Wylie's history group The Streets of South Shields.

A group of amateur historians are seeking help from local people as they work towards staging an exhibition looking back at life on South Tyneside.

The Streets of South Shields Group, supported by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA), is aiming to collect and collate enough memories and material to stage the display some time next year.

Our article about school dinners sparked memories for Pamela Siegel.

Our article about school dinners sparked memories for Pamela Siegel.

The focus of the exhibition will be local firms, industry and commerce.

And although members have their own recollections of the past, they are seeking help from townspeople who they hope will supply them with extra memories and any old photographs they have.

They are particularly keen to hear from people who can supply memories relating to butchers, such as Carrs and Sharp, and garages, such as Baulard and Fosters, Streamline and Selwoods.

Janet Wylie, who runs the group, said her members are also hoping to secure information about Sico warehousing, the tax office, as well as the rag trade, including the likes of John Collier, Geordie Jeans, May Harris and Barbours.

“We are asking for memories and photographs to help us stage the exhibition,” explains Janet.

“We would be interested, and most grateful, if people could supply us with any old pictures, which we would return to them once we’ve finished with them.

“Any memories relating to the industries and firms mentioned would be gratefully received.”

If anyone can help they can contact Janet on (0191) 4554830 or (0795) 4413542 or email her on

New classes from the WEA start in September, so anyone wanting further information should get in touch with Janet.

Meanwhile, I thought it would be timely to catch up with a few of the emails that you have sent me in relation to some of the recent articles.

Pamela Siegel (nee Stobbs) got in touch to say: ”The article ‘Remembering the South Shields school dinners of yesteryear’, brought back memories.

“My dad worked at Westoe Colliery, where he suffered an accident in 1966.

“During the period of his recovery we had free school dinners, as dad was signed off work. The canteen was a prefab building, the school that I am referring to is West Harton Infants & Juniors, which was in Harton Lane.

“We would line up outside the canteen in two rows. One line would be the children that had ‘paid’ tickets and the other line would be the children with ‘free’ tickets.

“The children that had ‘paid’ dinner tickets went into the canteen first, this queue was far shorten than the ‘free’ ticket queue!

“Free school dinners in the holidays! Mam, rounding up her three youngest children just before lunch, packing us off to the school canteen and reminding us to come straight home.

“PE and dance lessons would be held in the canteen, with the odour of overcooked cabbage.”

Adam Bell, assistant keeper of social history, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, South Shields Museum & Art Gallery emailed to say: “It was good to see the pic of the Bede Gallery opening back in 1970.

“I thought your readers might like to know that we recently acquired a substantial and important collection of items from the Bede Gallery, which operated from July 17, 1970, until December 20, 1996.

“Its director, Vince Rea, is pictured in the photo at far right.

“The collection is split between South Shields Museum & Art Gallery and Tyne & Wear Archives (the latter housing much of the documentation surrounding the operation of the Gallery and the exhibitions it hosted).

“Much of the collection has now been catalogued, and we would welcome inquiries if anyone is interested to know more about what it contains.

“We’ll be displaying some of the items in an exhibition at South Shields Museum, set to open on Saturday, August 27, and run until the early New Year.

By the way, the Bede Gallery was actually in Springwell Park, Jarrow.”