Wearside Echoes: Foreword to family past

One of the dicuments found by Catherine West when  exploring the loft in her new home at Valley View, High Moorsley.
One of the dicuments found by Catherine West when exploring the loft in her new home at Valley View, High Moorsley.
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CATHERINE West turned to a chapter in someone else’s life when she bought a job lot of old books at auction.

For the singer, from High Moorsley, discovered a treasure trove of memories tucked inside a battered Ladybird storybook – including a family photo, two letters and a telegram from 1953.

Catherine West, who, when  exploring the loft in her new home at Valley View, High Moorsley, came across a sheaf of personal documents and is now trying to reunite them with their owner.

Catherine West, who, when exploring the loft in her new home at Valley View, High Moorsley, came across a sheaf of personal documents and is now trying to reunite them with their owner.

“I used to collect antiques from all over the place – car boot sales, junk shops and auctions – and I think I probably picked the book up as part of a bundle at Boldon Auction Rooms,” said Catherine.

“After moving house, though, I decided to throw a lot stuff away. I was just checking through some of the books before putting them in the bin when I came across the photo, letters and other stuff.”

Included in the haul of mystery memorabilia is an undated newspaper clipping, featuring the marriage of Miss S Atkinson, of New Herrington, to Mr M.D. Chatterton, of Houghton.

There is a black and white picture of a family too, standing outside an official-looking building. Unfortunately, it carries neither date nor names.

“The family seems to be quite smartly dressed and it appears the men are wearing buttonholes

“Perhaps this could have been a wedding picture, taken outside a registry office,” said Catherine.

Other items discovered by Catherine, who works as a wedding and club singer, include a telegram dated 1953, which was sent to George Rowe, of Gregory Terrace, Fencehouses.

The brief message reads: “Congratulations from Australia. Aunty Elsie.”

“Perhaps it was a congratulations on a marriage, or the birth of a child,” said Susan. “One of the envelopes I found had a pair of pink booties on it, although that was dated 1958.

“The 1958 letter was sent to a Mrs Marjorie Rowe, who was at Thorpe Maternity Hospital at the time. The letter was signed by a lady called Shirley, of Ambleside Avenue in Seaham.”

The second – once again brief – letter discovered by Catherine was sent to George Rowe, then living in Front Street, Middle Rainton, by members of the Bible Society.

“We are very pleased to receive your letter of news. If your weather was anything like ours on Friday, you were certainly in the best place, in front of the fire,” it reads.

“I can’t really make out the date on this letter. The postage stamp date looks like 1955, although I can’t be certain. I think that the address in Middle Rainton is long gone though,” said Catherine.

“Everything seems to point to family events, from weddings to births. It is hard to know exactly how everything fits together, but this is someone’s life – someone’s memories.”

Catherine is now hoping Echo readers will be able to help her track down the rightful owner of the photo and letters, and she added: “I just feel it would be such a shame if they ended up in the bin.

“These letters and other items are a part of someone’s history, and I’d like them to go to their real home.”

* Can you help Catherine trace the owner of these items? She can be contacted on 526 4196.