Pondering on South Tyneside’s valuable past

There are quite a lot of programmes on TV about the value of things from the past.

Coil winding a dozen at a time.  An operative work to wire thicknesses of 2,000th of an inch in 1963.
Coil winding a dozen at a time. An operative work to wire thicknesses of 2,000th of an inch in 1963.

The most obvious, of course, is the long-running BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

But in recent years, a number of “new” shows have caught the attention of viewers.

Hide Ad

Favourites among a number of my colleagues, though it has to be said not their wives or partners, are Salvage Hunters and Shed and Buried, both of which see the knowledgeable presenters seeking out what appears to be junk (buying it) and turning it into “gems”.

They are a bit of a “Marmite” programme, yet they raise an interesting question: just how much valuable salvage remains from South Tyneside’s industrial past?

The towns of South Tyneside, as you know, were home to both traditional industries and more “modern” enterprises, housed in plants and factories throughout the area.

And although the pits and the shipyards have gone, along with many of the companies, which once employed thousands of workers in the electronics and manufacturing world, it makes you wonder what happened to the equipment, furniture and furnishings inside them?

Hide Ad

In the light of a company closure or factory loss, some workers might well have taken home “souvenirs” of their time at their place of employment.

But what about the larger objects; the desk, chairs, lighting etc, that today, are so eagerly sought by the likes of Drew Pritchard, of Salvage Hunters?

Hide Ad

Well, one woman who can shed some light on the question, is local historian Janet Wylie.

For Janet found out what happened to some of the equipment that was once used in the old Go Gay shoes factory, in Maxell Street, South Shields, when she was invited to have a look around the building as it is now.

Hide Ad

As well as being a trip down memory lane, the visit also revealed some interesting facts.

“When I was there, the manager of the company which now has the building, showed me a copy of the auction catalogue that was used when they sold off the old equipment.

Hide Ad

“Apparently everything they used to make the shoes was sold off at auction.”

Drew and his side-kick Tee, have been in the North East a few times in recent years, perhaps you know of somewhere they should visit – to secure a reminder of yesteryear?

Hide Ad

Pictured are a just some of the many places that, no doubt, would have yielded rich pickings for the salvage hunters in their heyday.