Wearside Echoes: On a heritage trail

Old Chester-le-Street

Old Chester-le-Street

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WEARSIDERS are being invited to take a step back in time at a history event.

Chester-le-Street Heritage Group is to host an exhibition from Monday to August 4 at the Salvation Army in Low Chare.

The display will be open from 10am until 4pm each day, with the focus being on the group’s new Heritage Trail.

And, on Tueday and August 2, members will also host Heritage Trail walks – meeting at the Civic Centre at 7pm.

“The trail was re-launched in April and a new website, www.chester-le-street-heritage.org, was set up,” said a spokesman.

“There are 38 points of reference around the town. Members have researched all of these, to find out more about each of these places.

“This information is the subject of the exhibition, and will be added to the Heritage Trail website at a later date.”

Among the details unearthed by members for the exhibition is the history of 66 Front Street – now just an ordinary shop.

“Local tradition has it that, at the turn of the century, musical artistes including Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy stayed there,” said the spokesman.

“Members have looked at the census and, in both 1901 and 1911 it was a boarding house. In 1901 American actor Del Leone was staying there, and in 1911 there was Theo Maritus – the Handcuff King.”

The history of one of Chester-le-Street’s post offices has also come under scrutiny – thanks to an usual insignia on the 137 Front Street building.

“It is one of only five Post Offices in the country to bear the insignia of Edward VIII – the King who was never crowned,” said the spokesman.

“From our archive we have found photographs of the key presented at the official opening, and a copy of the first telegram received at the new Post Office.”

Other buildings and events to be featured in the exhibition is the 1982-built Civic Centre, which caused a stir when it first opened, as well as the traditional Shrove Tuesday football matches.

“Come and see just part of our heritage archive,” added the spokesman. “We are very grateful for the support of the Salvation Army for letting us use their building.”

l Chester-le-Street Heritage Group will host a drop-in session at the Salvation Army Citadel in Low Chare on September 4.

** The event will be held from 10am to noon and admission is free. All welcome.