VOLUNTEERS at Sunderland Antiquarian Society are hoping Wearside Echoes readers can help solve two picture puzzles.
“More and more people are coming to us looking for help in tracing elusive an-cestors,” said local historian Norman Kirtlan.
“Some bring with them stories and photos that give us a tantalising glimpse of the past.
“One such person is Derek Dickinson, who brought along a photograph of his great-grandfather Joseph Dickinson to our stall at Sunderland History Fair.”
Joseph, who worked as a carter on Sunderland’s Barbary Coast at the turn of the century, is pictured here with sev-eral other carters and hawkers at a mystery stable yard in Monkwearmouth.
“The picture shows a wonderful group of old time likely-lads. But where was the yard and who are the other chaps? That is what we would really like to know,” said Norman.
“Old photos like these tell us much about styles of the period, and Joseph’s fringe haircut is typical of that worn by lads who, well, liked a good time, let’s say. You certainly wouldn’t mess with these boys!”
Census records from 1881 to 1911 show the Dickinson family had premises in Doves Open, Smithson’s Square, Burns Yard (off Roker Avenue) and, latterly, in George Street.
“Hopefully, some older readers may recognise the ramshackle stables in which the carters kept their cuddies,” added Norman.
Derek’s great-grandmother Margaret was also known as “a bit of a character” in town.
Born in the East End in the late 19th century, she worked in the rope works rolling heavy bobbins as a youngster – before changing trades to sell fish door-to-door from a wicker basket.
“A period of comparative luxury followed, when she worked in a High Street fishmongers, but upon its demolition it was back on the streets for Margaret and her basket,” said Norman.
“Incredibly, she worked until she broke her leg at the age of 72. Margaret’s proud boast was that she never had a day off work, or a spell on the dole in all of her days.”
Another fair visitor seeking the help of the Antiquarians was Ronnie Brown, who brought along a photograph believed to date the 1920s or 30s.
“This lovely image shows three chaps outside of a beer shop somewhere in town,” said Norman. “The chap on the left towers above a bowler-hatted dandy who appears to be advertising a new line in beer.
“On the right of the picture, Ronnie’s grandfather, Edward Brown, watches with a wry smile on his face. Does any-one recognise the location or the other two chaps?”
** Anyone with information can contact Norman Kirtlan on 07765 635 128 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org