These fascinating documents were found in a Sunderland attic

Woods in Hendon Road, around 1905.
Woods in Hendon Road, around 1905.

A donation to the Sunderland Antiquarian Society - by one of its social media followers - has unearthed a gem of Wearside history.

Two sooty old carrier bags were discovered in the attic of a Grangetown shop. They contained documents which give an amazing insight into life in Sunderland from 1890s to 1905.

A bill from Woods butchers.

A bill from Woods butchers.

There’s receipts and bill heads - all linked to the business of a Mr and Mrs Johnson of Stockton Terrace - and they were in a terrible state.

But careful handling and digital scanning has brought them back to life, said society member Norman Kirtlan.

Sunderland businesses big and small are featured, including the Havelock Buildings, recently rebuilt after the Great Fire, said Norman.

Another batch of bills relate to butcher George Wood who had a shop on Hendon Road. One, from December 1905, is about the sale of almost ten pounds of beef for just 35 pence.

It is amazing what stories these documents tell us – they really are a wonderful piece of Sunderland’s social history. Anyone who wants to have a look through the digitised collection would be very welcome to do so.

Norman Kirtlan

Edward Newbegin’s tobacco and snuff firm, which operated, from a warehouse in High Street East, also features. People will now know it as the Eagle Building, one of Sunderland’s few surviving Georgian properties.

Other companies mentioned include Portobello sawmills in Monkwearmouth and Pearman and Corder in Union Street.

Mr Johnson was also involved in new cottage properties in Grangetown, and many bill heads are quotes for outside lavatories and slate rooves.

Norman said: “It is amazing what stories these documents tell us – they really are a wonderful piece of Sunderland’s social history. Anyone who wants to have a look through the digitised collection would be very welcome to do so.”

Havelock House.

Havelock House.

To find out more, visit the Antiquarian Society in Douro Terrace on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 9.30am and noon – or go to www.sunderland-antiquarians.org/

The cost of getting your snuff from Newbegins.

The cost of getting your snuff from Newbegins.