Tony Lawrence is thousands of miles from Sunderland nowadays. But living in New Zealand doesn’t stop him loving his roots and coming back when he can.
Today, in the second part of his reminiscences, he recalls visits to his gran and grandad, Isabella and Ambrose Lindsley, in Bramwell Street, Hendon.
“Grandad Ambrose and Gran Isabella were married on January 2, 1900. They had a large family of 12 children. Ten survived and all were married in due course, so I have a lot of cousins in and around Sunderland.
“Ambrose was known as Sam to his friends. He worked at Bartram’s as a platters helper before and long after the First World War.
“My mother Henrietta told of gran washing Sam’s vest many many times after the war trying to remove blood stains. She never did ..Sam was in France in the trenches.
“In 1946 ,he was presented with a book, Where Ships Are Born Sunderland 1346-1946, personally by Mr. Bartram.
“In his own hand he writes ‘To Mr.A. Lindsley,.....from ........... Bartram.............Nov 1946 and stamped with the company stamp. Sam gave this to me around 1960, the last time I saw him.”
Whenever Tony visited, he had a fascination with the shipyards.
“Sam was retired by this time but still spritely and used to take me for a visit to Bartram’s shipyard.
“He took me all over the ships that were being built on the slipways, right under the bottom of a ship all over the inside and at one time I was taken to near the water’s edge at low tide.
“I looked up and saw men working in the propeller shaft tunnel and the massive drag chains used to slow the ship on launching. Sadly our timing was always out. We never saw a launch.”
There’s much more to Tony’s story and we will share it with you in the weeks to come.