CHEERS! Rare photos of Wearside and East Durham pubs have been added to the archives of Sunderland Antiquarian Society – thanks to brewery enthusiast Richie Morgan.
The Seaburn Dene man, who has converted his garage into a shrine to Vaux, snapped up the images at car boot sales and internet auctions to add to his memorabilia collection.
But copies of the photos, which include The Cambria Arms, Alexandra and Blue Bell, have now been donated to the Antiquarians by Richie – much to the delight of members.
“These are wonderful additions to our archives,” said local historian Bill Hawkins. “The collection includes many rare photos, which have never been published before.
“We suspect many were taken by Vaux staff as they carried out pub inspections. It is just lucky that Richie managed to save them before they disappeared from our city.”
Richie, a school crossing patrol supervisor, started collecting Vaux memorabilia a year after the 163-year-old brewery closed in 1999 – completely by accident.
“I was walking past the site and spotted demolition men throwing out Vaux signs. I asked if I could have one and that was it – my collection started from there,” he said.
“I’ve always been a collector and Vaux struck the right chord for me – especially as the firm was linked to Sunderland football club, which I have supported all my life.
“Many of Sunderland’s industries have disappeared over the years, including my old firm Federal-Mogul, and I thought it was important to try to save a piece of Vaux.”
Three unopened bottles of Time Gentlemen Please, the last beer brewed by Vaux, formed the second addition to Richie’s collection – donated by an ex-Vaux worker.
And, after other pals offered up Vaux badges and key rings, Richie was inspired to start searching boot sales, junk shops and internet auctions for more knick-knacks. “I must have picked up the two folders of photos I’ve shared with the Antiquarians in a sale or on eBay,” he said. “I can’t quite remember where, as it was a while ago now.
“One of the folders has photos of Vaux pubs, while the other shows plots of land for possible pubs, as well as diagrams and maps. I found both of them fascinating.
“There used to be a lot of Vaux stuff to be had when I first started collecting; now it is much scarcer. It is getting harder and harder to find memorabilia as the years go by.”
Richie’s collection has grown so large over the years that, at the suggestion of a friend, he converted his garage into a shrine to Vaux – complete with working bar.
Beer pumps, light-up bar fonts, clocks, posters, pub lamps, plaques, signs, mugs, ashtrays, books, magazines and playing cards all jostle for space in the “museum.”
A stained-glass window with the Vaux name, a sign which hung over the Vaux stables and even an original Vaux chess board are all stored within the miniature pub too.
“Vaux once filled 1,000 cans a minute and up to 500,000 a day. The firm was amazing – and I intend to keep memories of it alive,” said Richie.
“That’s why I was delighted to let the Antiquarian Society scan the Vaux photos in my collection, as they will now be kept safe for the future within the group’s archives.”
•Do you have any old photos you would like to share with Echo readers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look out next Monday for more pub pictures.