Archivist Sue unveils exhibition of theatres’ history

Ex-South Tyneside health worker Sue Hodgson, inset, has produced an exhibition on the history of Newcastle's Theatres Royal.
Ex-South Tyneside health worker Sue Hodgson, inset, has produced an exhibition on the history of Newcastle's Theatres Royal.

A former South Tyneside hospital worker is unveiling a new exhibition celebrating the history of entertainment at one of the region’s most famous theatres.

Sue Hodgson, who retired from South Tyneside District Hospital in 2011, is now the honorary archivist at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal.

Some items tell of disasters, some of triumphs and some of the great titans of the stage who flourished at the Theatres including Macready, Liston and Kean, but all unite in illustrating the passion Newcastle folk had for their Theatres Royal.

Sue Hodgson

The exhibition, which was unveiled this week, features never-seen-before historical treasures from the Grey Street theatre, such as playbills, diary entries, biographies and programmes from 1781 to 1990.

The Theatres Royal exhibition is on display at the City Library, in Newcastle, until late November and entry is free.

Sue, 68, who collected the material, said: “It seemed an ideal opportunity with the approach of the Heritage Open Days in 2015 to look to the gathering of previously unseen 19th century archives which the Theatre Royal boasts.

“We have arranged the exhibits chronologically to trace a historic narrative of the growth and development of drama in Newcastle and its homes.

“Some items tell of disasters, some of triumphs and some of the great titans of the stage who flourished at the Theatres including Macready, Liston and Kean, but all unite in illustrating the passion Newcastle folk had for their Theatres Royal.

“We are delighted to welcome the public to this exhibition and hope they enjoy the experience of viewing our theatrical treasures. We are confident they won’t be disappointed.”

Mrs Hodgson, from Jesmond, first came to the then South Tyneside General Hospital in 1984 and was manager of the medical records department.

Two years later she moved to Palmer Community Hospital, in Jarrow as an administrator, and then went back to the newly formed South Tyneside Healthcare NHS Trust in 1993.

Before her arrival in the medical world Mrs Hodgson studied a history degree at Newcastle University before tackling a masters degree in archive administration and palaeography. She then became assistant archivist for Newcastle City Council and then later for Tyne and Wear.

Sue was a familiar face to many at South Tyneside District Hospital for her role in public relations.

But after almost three decades of service, she decided to call it a day and return to her first love of palaeography – the study of ancient writing.