Wearside Echoes: Death by Zeppelin spotting in Sunderland

Zeppelin bombs blew up a Sunderland tram, killing 22 people.
Zeppelin bombs blew up a Sunderland tram, killing 22 people.

Two Wearside authors have investigated some of the more bizarre deaths in the city.

Sunderland Antiquarian Society members Sharon Vincent and Norman Kirtlan have produced their new book called Death From …

Coronation Street where a female singer  unexpectedly died while giving a public performance.

Coronation Street where a female singer unexpectedly died while giving a public performance.

Chris Cordner reports.

Death by Zeppelin spotting –and by singing.

They are two of the more unusual inquests examined by researchers Sharon Vincent and Norman Kirtlan for their new book.

One of the strangest inquests was in 1885, when a Sunderland woman tested out her singing skills in Coronation Street.

Accompanying a disgruntled hurdy gurdy man, she set up her stage next to him and belted out a few discordant 19th century top hits. Half way through the rendition, she collapsed onto the pavement, seemingly quite dea

Norman Kirtlan

“Accompanying a disgruntled hurdy gurdy man,” said Norman, “she set up her stage next to him and belted out a few discordant 19th century top hits. Half way through the rendition she collapsed onto the pavement, seemingly quite dead.”

Her body was taken into a nearby stationer’s shop where a local doctor pronounced life extinct and ordered she be removed to the Dead House on Church Street.

Norman said other inquests were “equally strange”.

During the First World War, German Zeppelins dropped bombs on the Wheatsheaf area, killing 22.

Norman Kirtlan.

Norman Kirtlan.

“One teenage boy was so excited when the cry went up that a Zeppelin had been caught in the searchlights, that he was determined to catch sight of this huge monster and ran full pelt down the stairs at his Roker Avenue home, all the while peering through the windows into the night sky.”

The lad lost his footing and tumbled to the basement floor, where he died. A verdict of death while Zeppelin Spotting was returned.

The book, costing £6, is available from the society, which is open every Wednesday and Saturday from 9.30am to noon in 6 Douro Terrace.

To have a copy posted, email Sharon at sharonvincent03@hotmail.com