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Monday, 22 April 2013

A-Z Challenge - T is for Tyneside

Join me on his A-Z journey  into  A SENSE OF PLACE where I reminiscence on places that are connected with my family history or are part of my own personal memories.


South Shields on Tyneside is my husband's  birthplace.  If this brings to mind an industrial conurbation with legacies of shipbuilding and mining, here is his favourite image of a childhood haunt  - Marsden Rock,

Marsden Rock, is a 100 foot sea stack  of periclase and magnesium limestone, 100 yards off the cliff face.  In 1803 a flight of steps was constructed up the side of the rock.  This photograph was taken before 1996 for in that year, the arch collapsed, splitting the rock  into two separate stack, with one later being declared unsafe and demolished.  The roc remains home to many seabird colonies of kittiwakes, fulmers, gulls and cormorants.

A more traditional view of the River Tyne (below), taken from South Shields and looking across to the Norwegian ferry at North Shields.

My husband's ancestors (Donaldson, White, Moffet) were mariners, sailing out of South Shields, whilst extended family members were in related occupations   as a caulker, seaman, river policeman, shipwright, roper, ship’s carpenter, and marine engine fitter.


Tyne & Wear Archives were invaluable to providing further information on the families' working lives.  I discovered the ships that GGG grandfather Robert Donaldson and GG grandfather Matthew White  sailed on around Europe - many of which came to a sad end - though not under their captaincy.  I also became acquainted with the names of different sailing vessels - barque or barc, brig, sloop, smack and snow   - an illustration of the diverse routes that family history can take you.

Great great grandfather John Moffet in a Napoleonic pose. 
One of the few photographs held of the family.

A long held family story recollected a photograph (sadly lost) of a White ancestor in a top hat in the uniform of the River Tyne police.   A silver uniform button  (left) is  still held by the family.

The Nominal Roll of the Tyne River Police (held at Tyne & Wear Archives)  provided some answers, finding that two  sons of Matthew (senior),   had been  members of the river police force – but both with rather a chequered history.

Henry White  joined 9th January 1882 and brother Matthew June 1896.  The Police Defaulters Book recorded on 11th June 1889.their  misconduct in the same incident -  "for assaulting a seaman A. W. Hanson and other irregularities, whilst off duty".   Henry was fined 2/6 and transferred to Walker Division at his own expense.  The Nominal Roll of 1904 noted his age as 42 and that he had 22 years of service, with a wage of 29/6. Matthew was fined 2/6 and transferred to the Newcastle Division at his own expense.  However he resigned a few months later.

Did You Know?
  • "Geordie" - the term for Tynesiders is thought to stem from the miners' safety lamp named after mining and railway engineer. George Stephenson. Another theory relates that Tyneside  folk are called Geordies because Newcastle declared allegiance to the Hanoverian King George against the Scottish Jacobite rebels.
  • The first purpose built lifeboat in the world  was built in South Shields in 1789.
  • Catherine Cookson, writer of many popular historical romances,  was born in South Shields.
  •  Hinnie" is a local term of endearment.
  •  "Singing Hinnies" are  a type of griddle cake.  The "singing" refers to the sound of the sizzling of the lard or butter in the rich dough as it cooks.  

Coming into land at Newcastle Airport,
with a clear view of the mouth of the Tyne and South Shields to the left.
In the 19th century this was where my husband's ancestors set sail.

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


1 comment:

  1. Great to see photographs of this area where some of my ancestors lived, I hope I can visit someday.


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