Mystery Monday: Picture puzzles from old Sunderland

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Today we launch the first of an occasional series – Mystery Monday. Can you help solve any of these picture puzzles?

WEARSIDE Echoes readers are invited to take a step back in time – and help solve the mysteries behind this batch of picture puzzlers.

BRAVE RESCUERS: The crew of a Sunderland lifeboat in around 1924.

BRAVE RESCUERS: The crew of a Sunderland lifeboat in around 1924.

Today’s selection of images have been unearthed from the archives of Sunderland Antiquarian Society by local historian Bill Hawkins, who hopes to find out more about them.

“People have been extremely generous to us over the years, donating some absolutely marvellous scenes of Wearside through the decades since Victorian times,” said Bill.

“Sadly, we don’t always have any information to go with them. It is always good for our records to put names to faces and dates to places. Hopefully, readers will be able to help.”

Among the treasure trove of images featured here are Mayfair sweet factory drivers in the 1920s, Pallion Carnival in 1925 and the crew of a Sunderland lifeboat in around 1924.

“Mayfair only happened by accident,”said Bill. “South Shields man Harry Randall lost an eye while working in the shipyards, and used his £60 compensation to start a confectionery firm.

“He went on to open two shops in Shields and another in Wallsend. As the business expanded he opened two sweet factories in Sunderland too and became known as the Toffee King.”

Also featured on these pages are pictures of Hylton Quarry workers and pupils at Sunderland Boys’ Industrial School.

“Sunniside Post Office was built a few years later, in 1903, by Sir Henry Tanner and is now a Grade II-listed apartment building. Hylton Quarry, home of limestone ‘cannonballs,’ is long gone,” said Bill. “Also gone is Sunderland Boys’ Industrial School. It was established in Silver Street in 1865, in what had been the Ragged School, to teach trades to children at risk of turning to crime.

“Students ranged from nine to 16 and, in 1912, the school moved to new premises in Prospect Row. It closed in 1929. There was also an industrial school for girls in Tatham Street.”

A visit by Sunderland Antiquarian Society to Boldon Hall in 1946 and the players of Wearmouth Colliery FC in 1917 are also pictured. “Boldon Hall was built in 1709 by William Fawcett and is today Grade II-listed,” said Bill. “Repairs in 1922 revealed nails made from sharpened sheep bones had been used to fix on the roof tiles.

“The grand old hall fell into disrepair for many years, but was restored in 1939 by Sunderland Antiquarian Mr Nicholson. A Quaker burial ground is believed to stand behind the building.”

Pictures of Ford Paper Mill staff on a works outing in June 1913 and district nurses at Murton Street Nurses’ Home in 1923 are shown too, as well as a mystery image.

“Work on Ford Paper Mill was started in May 1836 by Vint Hutton and Co, a firm already making paper at Deptford,” said Bill. “It opened in August 1838 and made paper from rags.

“The mill had a long and proud history, which sadly came to an end in the 1970s. The nurses’ home – where Florence Nightingale’s god-daughter lived for 14 years – is gone, too.

“But we know nothing about the mystery image. It was possibly taken at Short Bros shipyard at Pallion, but we’re not certain about that. Perhaps someone might recognise a relative.”

Copies of all the pictures are available to view in greater detail at Sunderland Antiquarian Society, which is based at 6 Douro Terrace and open each Wednesday and Saturday morning.

“Echo readers have helped me out many, many times in putting names to faces in vintage photographs,” said Bill. “Hopefully, they will be able to solve some of the puzzles here, too.”

•Can you help Bill? Contact him on 551 3947. Do you have a mystery picture to share with readers? Email Sarah Stoner at:

Puzzle solved

A RECENT mystery picture featured in Wearside Echoes brought back many happy memories for one reader.

Joseph Ashton, of Southwick, was inspired to get in touch after spotting the photo of Hendon Sports Club junior football team.

“This team played on Hendon Burn,” he said. “It was a very difficult pitch to play on, as it was classed as a cinder stack.

“I used to support the team home and away. They played in the Sunderland Amateur League, which they won in 1946. 1947 and, I believe, 1948.”

Joseph has managed to put names to faces for almost all of the players, including Gordon Sheldon, Harry Richardson, Charlie Brown and Larry Lawton.

“In their era, in my opinion, this was by far the best local amateur team around,” said Joseph.

“I had great memories of them, and I can’t ever remember them losing a home game at Hendon Burn.”