Stained glass at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery

The beautiful stained glass windows mounted on the half landing of the grand staircase at South Shields Museum are a much-admired feature of our venue.

Stained glass at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

Stained glass displayed at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery

The centre window contains glass from Holy Trinity Church, South Shields, which was located at the junction of Laygate and Commercial Road. The top panel represents the miracle of giving sight to the blind, and the two below show the parables of the Sower and the Good Samaritan. They date from the early 20th century and were the work of Messrs. Clayton and Bell of London.

Resized Holy Trinity South Shields exterior

An exterior view of Holy Trinity Church, South Shields, about 1911.

The foundation stone of Holy Trinity Church was laid by the incumbent of St. Hilda’s Church, Rev. James Carr, on 22 May 1833. John Sumner, Bishop of Chester, who would go on to become Archbishop of Canterbury, performed the consecration on 18 September 1834.

The church, which was 94 ft. 8 in. in length and 41 ft. in breadth, was built to designs by the esteemed Durham-born architect Anthony Salvin, in the Early English style. There was seating for up to 1,200 people.

Resized Holy Trinity South Shields interior

An interior view of Holy Trinity Church, South Shields, about 1911.

Services were suspended with effect from 25 May 1980 after surveys revealed the building to be structurally unsound, and demolition began on 1 November 1980. The footprint of the church was preserved within a garden area.

The church clock, a gift from South Shields Corporation, was started on 2 July 1883 by the vicar’s eldest child, who afterwards became the wife of the third vicar. One of the three clock faces was removed at the time of demolition, and is preserved in the museum collections.

Resized TWCMS_H10526-a

One of Holy Trinity’s three clock faces, displayed at the museum in the 1980s. TWCMS : H10526

The windows at far left (St. Luke) and right (St. John) came from the west wall of the nave of St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church at Hebburn, formerly St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, and were erected in memory of shipbuilder Andrew Leslie Esq., J.P. of Coxlodge Hall, Gosforth, by his sister Mrs. Stephen.

Scotsman Andrew Leslie established his Hebburn shipbuilding yard at the age of 34 in 1853. Leslie encouraged his countrymen to move to Hebburn to work for him and by the 1860s Hebburn was dubbed “little Aberdeen”. As the Scots community of Hebburn grew, the need for a Presbyterian church was keenly felt. Andrew Leslie answered the call by funding the erection of St. Andrew’s Church in 1873, spending £9,000 so that it would have the highest steeple of any non-conformist church in the area, giving rise to the moniker the ‘Presbyterian Cathedral’.

Resized Andrew Leslie Hebburn shipbuilder

Andrew Leslie, Hebburn shipbuilder and St Andrew’s benefactor

Produced at the studio of the acclaimed Pre-Raphaelite artist and designer Edward Burne-Jones, the St. Andrew’s windows, originally five in number, were in fact made for College Road Presbyterian Church, Newcastle upon Tyne, but were moved to Hebburn in 1933 following the conversion of their original home into the Electrical Engineering Laboratory of King’s College (now Newcastle University).

Resized St Andrews Hebburn stained glass

The original five Burne-Jones windows at St Andrew’s, Hebburn, pictured in the 1970s

St. Andrews Church was designed in the Decorated Gothic style by architect Mr. R.J. Johnson of Newcastle upon Tyne, featuring many elements of a church Andrew Leslie had admired on the continent. There was seating for 700 people.

Resized St Andrews Hebburn exterior about 1923

An exterior view of St Andrew’s Church, Hebburn, about 1923

Resized St Andrews Hebburn interior about 1890

An interior view of St Andrew’s Church, Hebburn, about 1890

In the later 20th century the congregation dwindled and the church was last used in the run-up to Easter 1982, when worship was transferred to St. John’s, Hebburn. The empty building suffered at the hands of vandals and much damage was caused, including to the stained glass. The two windows displayed on the staircase at South Shields Museum were rescued by the museum in November 1982 before further damage could be inflicted. In 1985 the empty church was converted to provide workshop spaces, and is today home to a Buddhist meditation centre.

The Hancock sisters and the Great War – A Guest Post by Ashleigh Jackson

My name is Ashleigh Jackson. I am a History undergraduate student from Edinburgh and I’m currently on a summer placement with the Natural History Society of Northumbria in their archives at the Great North Museum: Hancock.

July 2016 marks the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest event of the First World War and one of the most fatal conflicts in history. The Society possesses a number of connections to the Great War, as revealed through its archive collections.

A remarkable connection to the Society is Katherine Milburn Hancock (1893-1976), the great-niece of John and Albany Hancock, and a later donor to the Museum. The Society holds archives relating to Katherine, or Kitty as she was known by family and friends, and her work during the First World War. Kitty volunteered for the French Red Cross in 1915, along with her sister Marjorie, where she drove ambulances in the Hackett-Lowther Unit.

Photograph taken ‘somewhere in France’ shows Marjorie on the left, and Kitty in the centre.

Photograph taken ‘somewhere in France’ shows Marjorie on the left and Kitty in the centre.

Notably, the Hancock sisters were both awarded the Croix de Guerre medal (transl. Cross of War). The sisters were decorated with this medal for their services in the Somme district in 1917, in the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme which had concluded in November 1916.

After the war the sisters moved to Beke and later, Billingshurst in West Sussex where together they managed a farm. Before her death, Kitty visited the Museum opened by her great uncles, and in 1976 donated £20,000 toward the renovation of the Bird Room in the old Hancock Museum.

“English Sisters’ Pluck”

The newspaper cutting below indicates the recognition received by Kitty and Marjorie Hancock. It highlights how the Society’s archive collections can usefully provide information about individuals, and reveal connections to the war. This source tells us that the sisters were part of the Hackett-Lowther unit which was ordered to work in the Somme district to aid French soldiers. The Hancock sisters visited shelled villages and assisted with the evacuation of civilians as the war raged on.

The French newspaper cutting below further highlights the recognition given to the Hancock sisters for their work in the Somme, indicating the appreciation from the French towards the English sisters.


The Natural History Society of Northumbria holds the two Croix de Guerre medals which were issued to Kitty and Marjorie after the war. The Croix de Guerre was a distinguished award bestowed by the French government upon those who had carried out heroic acts.  This further highlights the important connections between the Society, the Museum and the First World War.

Croix de Guerre medal of Miss K.M. Hancock

Croix de Guerre medal of Miss K.M. Hancock

As well as the Croix de Guerre, both sisters were awarded the British War Medal as well as the Victory Medal. These accolades are all stored in the archives of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

The Boldons

The Boldons are a group of three South Tyneside villages – East Boldon, West Boldon and Boldon Colliery – located to the south of the Borough of South Tyneside, heading towards Sunderland.

In 2014 the British Library loaned one of its most treasured items – the earliest surviving copy of the 12th century ‘Boldon Book’ – for display at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. Created in 1183 as a survey of the Bishop of Durham’s lands in Northumberland and Durham, the Boldon Book has been called the ‘Domesday Book of the North’. It was the first survey of settlements north of the River Tees, an area that was omitted from the Domesday study. Only four early manuscript copies of the Boldon Book survive.

Boldon Book page

The entry for Boldon in the Boldon Book. Image courtesy of the British Library.

The township of Boldon is one of the book’s earliest entries, listing how many days of the week people had to work for the Bishop, how many hens or cattle they had to give him and how much money they owed. The book gets its name from later entries in the document, which use “as at Boldon” as short-hand.

The loan of the British Library’s Boldon Book in 2014 helped to raise awareness and stimulate interest in the Book and its importance to the Borough. This year Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums are working with local community groups and schools to capture their responses to some of the themes raised by the Boldon Book (such as society, commerce, and citizenship), marking a moment in time just as the Boldon Book did.

Outcomes from the project will be highlighted in an exhibition at South Shields Museum early next year, which will include the loan of another priceless early manuscript of the Boldon Book, alongside enhanced interpretation.

My colleagues were keen to know what we had in the museum collections relating to the villages of East Boldon, West Boldon and Boldon Colliery. I consulted the catalogue and turned up some lovely items, which I’d like to share with you in this blog. The items were all either owned by or associated with people who lived or worked in the villages, relate to an aspect of life in the Boldons, or depict the villages and their people in photographs or artworks…

Postcard, 1904

This postcard, showing a view of Front Street, East Boldon, was sent to Mr & Mrs McKendrick in December 1904, “with best wishes to all for the season”.

A postcard from of East Boldon village

A postcard from East Boldon village. TWCMS : 2000.2076

Boldon Mill, 1897
watercolour, gouache and pencil on paper
by James Miller Brown

This is a sentimental and tranquil depiction of life in Boldon in 1897. The simple composition and dream-like purples and blues of the sky give the picture a feeling of calm.

'Boldon Mill', a watercolour by James Miller Brown, 1897

‘Boldon Mill’, a watercolour by James Miller Brown, 1897. TWCMS : J12937.2

Egg cups, 1950s

A pair of egg cups in the shape of rabbits, owned by ‘Billy’ and ‘Margaret’. These were given to the museum in 1997 by Miss M. Armstrong of West Boldon.

A child's egg cup featuring a rabbit, 1950s

Margaret’s egg cup, 1950s. TWCMS : 2002.1021

A child's egg cup featuring a rabbit, 1950s

Billy’s egg cup, 1950s. TWCMS : 2002.1020

Tea cup, saucer and tea plate, 1950s

A tea cup, saucer and side plate decorated in a grey-blue transfer printed design of flowers and birds. The design is called ‘Cottage Rose’. These were specially manufactured by Enoch Wedgwood for Ringtons – the Newcastle tea merchants – and could be obtained from the firm by saving up coupons issued with their packets of tea. The trio was owned by Mrs Mary Arrowsmith (née Hutchinson) who grew up in Boldon Colliery in the opening years of the 20th century. Her first name was actually Griselda, but she was called by her middle name. Mary lived in Boldon Colliery all her life. Her husband worked at Harton Farm.

A tea cup, saucer and tea plate in the Cottage Rose pattern, 1950s

A tea cup, saucer and tea plate in the Cottage Rose pattern, 1950s. TWCMS : 2007.5532

Clothing book, 1947-48

Clothing coupons for a child, 1947-48, issued to Charles Armstrong (born 1943) who lived at 74 Charles Street, Boldon Colliery. Clothes rationing was introduced in June 1941 and ended in May 1949.

A child's clothing book, 1947-48

A child’s clothing book, 1947-48. TWCMS : 2007.5533

Coupons inside a 1947-48 child's clothing book

Coupons inside the clothing book. TWCMS : 2007.5533










Ration book
, 1953-54

A Ministry of Food ration book, 1953-54, issued to Doreen Armstrong (born 1947) who lived at 48 Hardie Drive, West Boldon. Bacon, butter and sugar were first rationed in January 1940, followed by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk and canned and dried fruit. Fresh vegetables and fruit were not rationed, but supplies were limited. Rationing didn’t end in Britain until 4 July 1954.

A ration book, 1953-54

A ration book, 1953-54. TWCMS : 2007.5534

Coupons inside a 1953-54 ration book

Coupons inside the ration book. TWCMS : 2007.5534



















Bus timetable, mid 1950s

A timetable and fare list for the popular Economic Bus Service – Seaburn & Boldon Colliery via Whitburn, Cleadon, East & West Boldon.

Economic Bus Service timetable, mid 1950s

Economic Bus Service timetable, mid 1950s. TWCMS : 2008.342

Photograph, 1921

A group photo of men and women at a fancy dress ball at the Miners’ Hall, Boldon Colliery, dated 1921.

A fancy dress ball at the Miners' Hall, Boldon Colliery, 1921

A fancy dress ball at the Miners’ Hall, Boldon Colliery, 1921. TWCMS : 2007.3093

Coal, about 300 million years old!

This coal was mined at Westoe Colliery, South Shields. Drew Robertson worked there from 1980 until 1994. Each New Year’s Eve, according to the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, he would give his neighbours in Boldon Colliery a piece of locally mined coal to symbolise warmth, a cake symbolising that the household should never go hungry and salt, symbolising wealth and prosperity.

Coal mined from Westoe Colliery, South Shields

Coal mined from Westoe Colliery, South Shields. TWCMS : 2008.1545

Toiletry set, 1939

Frederick Carroll started his working life in Boldon Colliery, but he ran away to sea aged 16. This toiletry set was presented to Frederick by the Mayor of Jarrow, for his actions on board HMS Exeter during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939. This was the first major naval battle of the Second World War, when three allied warships took on the formidable German battleship the Admiral Graf Spee off the coast of Argentina and Uruguay. Frederick was mentioned in dispatches following the engagement; he went on to become a torpedo expert and his whereabouts during the War were always secret.

Toiletry set presented for valour aboard HMS Exeter, 1939

Toiletry set presented for valour aboard HMS Exeter, 1939. TWCMS : 2009.2221

Savings bank book, 1933

A Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society Small Savings Bank book, issued to Miss Eleanor Armstrong, used 20 January 1933 to 21 June 1934. Eleanor was born in Bill Quay, Gateshead, in 1914. Her parents ran pubs in Pelaw, Hebburn and Jarrow.

A Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society Small Savings Bank book, 1933

A Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society Small Savings Bank book, 1933. TWCMS : 2010.4527

Train ticket, 1960

An ‘Edmondson’ type railway ticket for a 2nd class single journey from South Shields to East Boldon. The fare was 1s 1d.

Train ticket, South Shields to East Boldon, 1960

Train ticket, South Shields to East Boldon, 1960. TWCMS : 2011.1941

Magazine, 1951

A magazine titled The Boldon Book, being the parish magazine of St. Nicholas Hedworth, St. Nicholas West Boldon and St. George East Boldon. Includes news of a garden fete: “The morning of July 7th was dull and showery, but at mid-day the clouds began to clear and by the time Mrs. E. Harrison declared the Fete open the sun was shining and all was bright and cheerful”. Divine intervention, perhaps?!

The Boldon Book parish magazine, 1951

The Boldon Book parish magazine, 1951. TWCMS : 2011.3071

Plate, 1923

A commemorative plate marking the Golden Jubilee (50 years) of Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society – June 1873 to June 1923. Pictured on the plate are the Society’s various branches: ‘East Boldon’; ‘Harton’; ‘Central Premises’; ‘Pelaw’; and ‘Charles Street’.

Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society golden jubilee plate, 1923

Boldon Industrial Co-operative Society golden jubilee plate, 1923. TWCMS : 2011.3164

Contract, 1931

A ‘Form of Contract, General Conditions and Specification for the Construction and Completion of 65 Dwellinghouses for Aged Persons on the Boldon Colliery Housing Site’. Specifications included: “All plastered wall surfaces are to be clearcoled and twice distempered with washable distemper of approved manufacture and tints. The coalhouses, sculleries, and larders to be twice lime washed.”, “Provide in scullery a Belfast pattern glazed stoneware sink 27in. x 18in. x 10in. with brass waste plug and chain and fix same on strong galvanised or coated iron brackets.”, “Provide and fix galvanised iron Clothes Hooks of approved design, two per house.”, “Provide and properly set in Living Room a Yorkshire Range, with side Boiler and Tap, p.c. £7 5s 0d., also Bedroom Register, p.c. £1 5s 0d.”

A contract for the construction of 65 houses for 'aged persons' at Boldon Colliery, 1931

A contract for the construction of 65 houses for ‘aged persons’ at Boldon Colliery, 1931. TWCMS : 2011.3198

Photograph and memorial plaque, First World War

A First World War memorial plaque presented to the next-of-kin of Private George William Frame, 8th (Service) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, who had worked at Boldon Colliery prior to his war service.

George died age 25 on 26 September 1916, a casualty of the Battle of the Somme. He is commemorated locally on the following rolls of honour and memorials: Durham Miners’ Association Boldon Lodge Roll of Honour; Boldon Colliery Workmen War Memorial (now located inside the Royal British Legion, Boldon Colliery); St. Simon’s Church, Simonside, South Shields (Chancel Screen); and Wenlock Road Methodist Church Memorial Cross, South Shields.

Photograph of Private George William Frame, Northumberland Fusiliers

Photograph of Private George William Frame, Northumberland Fusiliers. TWCMS : 2014.2111

Memorial plaque presented by the Boldon Lodge of the Durham Miners' Association to the next of kin of George William Frame

Memorial plaque presented by the Boldon Lodge of the Durham Miners’ Association to the next of kin of George William Frame. TWCMS : 2014.2112





















Plaque, 1929

A bed at the Ingham Infirmary, South Shields, was endowed in memory of Miss Isabella Lawson of Pikeshole Farm, West Boldon, in 1929.

Plaque in memory of Miss Isabella Lawson, 1929

Plaque in memory of Miss Isabella Lawson, 1929. TWCMS : 2013.201


Photograph, about late 1920s

This photo, originally published in the Newcastle Evening World, shows members of Boldon Amateur Operatic Society in a scene from their production of the Gilbert & Sullivan opera The Yeoman of the Guard – set at the Tower of London in the 1500s.

A photograph of members of Boldon Amateur Operatic Society, about late 1920s

A Boldon Amateur Operatic Society production of The Yeoman of the Guard, about late 1920s. TWCMS : 2016.387


Programme, 1961

A programme for the formal opening by Councillor G. Robinson of the West Boldon Residential Nursery at 33 Tennyson Avenue, Boldon Colliery, on Monday 18 September 1961. The first of its kind in the north of England, the nursery was different from others in the area in that it was intended to accommodate 12 children under three, and because it had been built on a housing estate. The majority of nurseries at the time catered for up to 25 children. Those at West Boldon nursery were intended to be from families where, perhaps, mother was in hospital or there was other temporary domestic upheaval. After the official opening, the civic party repaired to North Road Infants’ School for tea, buns and speeches.

An exterior view of West Boldon Residential Nursery, 1961

An exterior view of West Boldon Residential Nursery, 1961. TWCMS : 2011.3072


Interior view of West Boldon Residential Nursery, 1961

Interior view of West Boldon Residential Nursery, 1961. TWCMS : 2011.3072

South Shields Museum & Art Gallery collects and displays items relating to the people and places of South Tyneside. As well as South Shields and Jarrow, which are currently well represented in the museum, we also collect items with a link to Hebburn, Whitburn, Cleadon, the Boldons and all the Borough’s other locales and neighbourhoods. My Boldon rummage revealed that, while we have some fascinating items, we don’t have as much relating to that area of the Borough as we’d like. We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who would consider donating anything Boldon-related, so please get in touch if you think you can help!

Exhibition Explorers share their latest discoveries

Our Exhibition Explorers have been having a busy time getting out and about to all sorts of cultural venues this month! Here’s what they shared with us through the ‘Exhibition Explorers Encyclopaedia’ at their latest session:

Sharing the Exhibition Explorers Encyclopaedia

Sharing the Exhibition Explorers Encyclopaedia

Fred brought us a beautiful, glitter-filled page about his visit to the Great North Museum: Hancock. Inspired by the animals he saw he’d stuck lots of patterned feathers onto it. Fred also enjoyed getting up close to fish and dinosaurs. Museum Mice for under 5s is worth a visit, and this summer you can also make masks, get up close to real bugs and go on a bug hunt around the museum!

Alex had a great time at Whitley Bay Carnival, where he saw lots of bands, circus acts and performers, and enjoyed delicious food and fairground rides, all at the end of his street! Alex tells us he liked dancing to the music and ‘being chased by wolves’ – altogether it sounds an amazing day! Check out some of the action in these videos.

Sophie had a very busy day at Little Town (now known as Tiny Town) and the family gave it 10 out of 10! We loved the photos of Sophie hard at work in the kitchen, shop, restaurant and building site – definitely somewhere to fire the imagination (and we hear the cake in the cafe is excellent too!) Check out the photos of the play environments at Tiny Town here.

Baltic also got 10 out of 10 from Evie and her family. They found so much to do there, including bird watching, building, playing with magnets, colouring in, imaginary play and of course lots of exploring in the big open spaces and fast lifts! There’s lots on offer for little ones in Quay. Drop in every weekend to get hands-on with Busy Bs, and enjoy a Family Quest on Saturdays – a great way to learn about the art in an informal and imaginative way, with games and creative activities.

Next session is the final one of Exhibition Explorers – we’ve learned so much from this amazing research project and it’s really shaped our Early Years offer. We’re looking forward to new adventures in series 2 of the project, which launches in July – find out more and book tickets here.

Hiding under the lycra

Hiding under the lycra

Lycra songs and games

Lycra songs and games

Discovering which museums and galleries other families have visited.

Discovering which museums and galleries other families have visited.



‘All Surface, All Form’: A Guest Post by Poet in Residence Joanne Clement

Last Winter, I began visiting the Shipley Art Gallery to familiarise myself with their collections whilst researching for my PhD. For the study, I am examining the engravings of Thomas Bewick to write a new collection of poems. As Bewick’s creative legacy is spread across Tyne and Wear Archives, I spend lots of time in museums and galleries looking at their Bewick holdings as well as the wider collections they house. For me, artworks and archives hold a world of creative potential and I am especially interested in their socio-historical relevance and above all, the poetry embedded within them.

‘Thomas Bewick's Birds. Photograph my own, with thanks to The Natural History Society Northumbria’

‘Thomas Bewick’s Birds. Photograph my own, with thanks to The Natural History Society Northumbria’

Spending time in TWAM for my research really is the best job in the world. Earlier this year, I was excited to become the Shipley’s Poet in Residence as part of Write Around the Toon, a project which aims to place writers from Newcastle University into major cultural venues of the region. Residency is an interesting concept for a poet as very often you ‘live in’ your practice and take it with you, whenever and wherever you go. With the aim to do more than write poems in response to the collections here, I was eager to go beyond an insular residency and instead, to share my research and engage my practice and interests with the local community through workshops.

We put out a public call for participants to join in poetry workshops and I soon met a local group of writers called ‘The Scribblers’. As a reader of Romantic literature the group’s name had exciting connotations for me; I thought of the ‘Scriblerus Club’, a collaborative association of 18thC satirists. Fittingly, my group were fantastic fun from the outset, welcoming and willing to try out new writing activities. I led workshops in response to a variety of the Shipley collections.

Blaydon Races’ William Irving (1903). Photograph my own with thanks to Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums’

Blaydon Races’ William Irving (1903). Photograph my own with thanks to Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

One painting that especially caught my attention was William Irving’s ‘The Blaydon Races’. A snapshot in oil, it depicts a day off in 18thC North-East and its carnival atmosphere. I’m a huge fan of the folk song by Geordie Ridley. It’s a much-loved unofficial anthem which seems to transcend the Tyne divide, inspiring all who know it to join in…regardless of how well you can sing. In one session, after a close reading of some poems, we sat in front of Irving’s painting and after a sing-song, over the course of two hours we examined the painting, picked out figures and wrote in response.

The resulting work was vivid, musical and full of authentic historical character. We had poems on gamblers, fighters, lovers, a dog and even a sleeping drunk. At The Late Shows in May, the group performed an impressive selection of these Blaydon poems, bringing the painting to life for the audience. These poems are currently on display in the Shipley Lounge and I highly recommend you pop in for a read, then go take in the gallery’s brilliant collection.

Alongside the workshops, in response to the new exhibition ‘Surface Deep’ and the 1960s theme chosen for The Late Shows, I began developing writing on the topic of the moon landings. My writing soon developed into a different animal (as they often do) and became a meditation on the seas of the moon, notions of ‘the alien’ and the current refugee crisis. From this, I developed a poem-film with a stirring sound composition, an ekphrastic response by Phil Begg. The poem-film transports viewers into the vacuum of space, poised upon the (un)natural and considering geographic and emotional distance. ‘Lunar Mare’ played throughout the Late Shows. I look forward to discovering what the residency will inspire next.

Click on the video above to watch Lunar Mare (2016), a collaborative poem-film by Joanne Clement and Phil Begg.