Saturday, 22 April 2017

John Richardson of Hutton Rudby, proprietor of the Seaham Weekly News

Sunderland Daily Echo & Shipping Gazette, 2 May 1910
Not many readers of the Seaham Weekly News might have noticed on Friday last that that day's issue of that quaint little journal was number 2,601.  Such, however, was the case, and the paper has entered upon its second half century.  Its jubilee was on April 22nd, and so modest is its proprietor that the anniversary was allowed to pass without any reference to the interesting fact in its own columns. 
The Seaham Weekly News, and Seaton, Murton, Hetton, Rainton and Houghton-le-Spring Advertiser, to give it its full title, was begun in 1860 by the late Mr John Richardson, when the harbour was filled with sailing ships and the Rainton Collieries – now laid in  were in all their glory and contributing materially to the prosperity of the port.  As years roll on they bring their changes, and the changes in newspaper production during the past half century have been among the most striking in our national progress, but the Seaham Weekly has gone serenely on its own way, and is the same to-day as it was when it first appeared.  It is a local paper and claims to be nothing more, and it, at least, cannot be accused of sensationalism.  On the death of Mr Richardson it was carried on by his widow and their son, the late Mr Harrop Wight Richardson, and it is conducted to-day, together with an old-established printing and stationery business, by Mr Stephen Richards.  It is now printed by a machine driven by a gas engine, but there is still in the office on the North Terrace the old hand press from which it was first sent forth.  As a record of passing events it fills its place in the town it has served so long, and though it may be, in some respects, obscure it is posted to many parts of the world where former inhabitants of Seaham have made homes, and is by them highly valued.
I was recently contacted by a reader, Clare Abbott, who told me of an interesting family diary in her possession.  Her own piece on the diary in the Journal of the Northumberland & Durham Family History Society can be read online here, and it tells the very interesting story of the diary of Eleanor Richardson (1825-1905) of Seaham Harbour, wife of the John Richardson mentioned in the piece above.

But for the purposes of this blog, the main interest is John's link with Hutton Rudby – which might incidentally help anyone trying to disentangle the Richardsons who lived in the village in the mid 19th century!

Eleanor Wight recorded that she married John Richardson of Hutton Rudby on 20 June 1848 in the church of Dalton-le-Dale, the Revd J Brown officiating.  John was then 27.  The following year, on 7 July 1849 at 2.30am, his mother Elizabeth died at Hutton Rudby.

John and Eleanor settled at Seaham Harbour where they ran a shop and started the Seaham Weekly News.

I think John was probably the son of John & Elizabeth Richardson who lived in Enterpen.  The 1841 census shows:
John Richardson 45, general mechanic
Elizabeth Richardson 45
John Richardson 20
Jane Richardson 15
James Richardson 13
Robert Richardson 8
(All were born in Yorkshire)

Clare tells me that when Eleanor died in 1905 she left £50 each to her nieces Hannah and Emma Richardson of Darlington.

I think there are two prominent figures associated with the Seaham Weekly News.

Thomas Summerbell (1861-1910), first Labour MP for Sunderland, was one of them,  His story is told by Chris Mullin (author, journalist and former MP for Sunderland) here.  Summerbell was, he says, "apprenticed to a printer on the Seaham Weekly News".  This printer must have been John Richardson himself; in the 1881 Census he is described as a "master printer".

After serving his apprenticeship, Summerbell went to work as a journeyman printer in Felling and then Jarrow.  He became interested in politics and was elected in 1906 as one of the 29 original members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.  His main concerns were, explains Chris Mullins, "the dreadful condition of the labouring classes":
"A glance through Hansard shows him asking questions about the education of paupers, deaths by starvation in Whitechapel, the wages of labourers at Kew Gardens and the incidence of TB in the army."  
He died untimely at the age of 48.

The other significant figure was the journalist and independent Irish Nationalist MP, Captain Daniel Desmond ("D.D.") Sheehan (1873-1948).

The Seaham Weekly News was one of the local newspapers to carry his anonymous weekly column ("The War and Westminster") during the 1914-18 War.  Sheehan's party, the All-For-Ireland-League Party, aimed to achieve Home Rule through reconciliation and consent of the people, but he nevertheless believed it was his duty to fight in the War and he and four other Irish Nationalist volunteers joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers.  His story is told in the stories of Parliamentarians in the First World War.

For more on Seaham itself, visit the the Seaham Family History Group website.




Thursday, 13 April 2017

Women's Institute Drama in the 1930s and 1950s

I have posted previously on the Nunthorpe Women's Institute Drama Group – here, here, here and here.  (I should add that this is Nunthorpe near Middlesbrough, to avoid any confusion).

I've just come across some press cuttings relating to the group, which might be of interest.

Unfortunately, they're not dated!

There is a 1930s clipping relating to the performance of Nine till Six – which featured in the programme shown here and starred Mrs Hedley, Mrs H Stubbs, Mrs Baker, Mrs Steel, Mrs Ballingall and Mrs Borrow – which says
Nunthorpe produced A. and P. Stuart's Nine till Six, revealing a real sense of the stage, with a poise seldom shown by amateurs.  The adjudicator said she had nothing but praise for the performance.  Each of the characters held the balance, so that real unity was achieved, and there was a gratifying absence of over-acting or exaggeration.
 Another 1930s clipping from the W.I. Drama Festival is headlined "Adjudicator praises Nunthorpe Team", and begins
Nunthorpe team was praised for the ease and spontaneity of its acting by the adjudicator, Mr Jack Charlton, of London, at the non-competitive Women's Institute inter-county drama festival in the Rowntree Theatre, York, on Saturday.  They presented Symphony in Illusion, and Mr Charlton said that by bringing their imagination to bear, they had made effective a play that was an attempt to be clever, but that did not quite come off. 
Two other Yorkshire teams, Escrick and Ingleby Arncliffe, took part.  Escrick gave The Thrice Promised Bride, which, Mr Charlton pointed out, required an extremely difficult technique.  He praised the settings, costumes and acting, but said it would have been improved had the mime been as firmly handled as the words.  Ingleby Arncliffe performed Michael
West Auckland, who produced the first scene from King Lear, were criticised for their choice, the adjudicator remarking, "Of all the scenes in the whole of Shakespeare's plays I cannot imagine any that needs the heavier music of the male voice more than this one,"
 Another clipping (a very grainy newspaper photograph, I'm afraid) from the 1930s:-


Caption:  Members of Nunthorpe Women's Institute in a scene from Martha and Mary, a New Testament play which they presented in St Mary's Church, Nunthorpe, yesterday.  On stage are Muriel Ballingall (as Martha), Olga Matthams (Mary), Lesley Hownam (Sara) and Molly Stubbs (Ruth).
The full newspaper caption for the 1939 photograph shown below is
Nunthorpe W.I. members in Paolo and Francesca, which they presented in the Yorkshire Federation of Women's Institute's drama competitions which concluded at York on Saturday.
Nunthorpe W.I. members in Paolo and Francesca 1939
and underneath the photograph Molly Stubbs has written
Drama Cup for Yorkshire won by us for 3rd time 1939
M. Stubbs as Paolo with E. Cameron as Francesca & E. Whinney as Giovanni
Another cutting (with a grainy photo) is captioned 'Rehearsing for the Festival'.  It looks as though it dates from the post-War period, 1940s or early 1950s:-

Kathleen Belas (as Sister Paul), A. Blake (Patsy), Mahoney Crossthwaite (Sister Gabriella), and Molly Stubbs (Sister Annunciata) in a rehearsal scene from Time Out of Joint, which Nunthorpe Players willl present at the British Drama League (Teesside area) annual festival of one-act plays, starting in St John's Hall, Middlesbrough, tomorrow and continuing for the rest of the week. 
This cutting from the 1950s is captioned
Nunthorpe W.I. in a scene from There's Rue For You, presented at the Yorkshire Federation of Women's Institute's drama festival at York on Saturday

and I find that we have a good photograph of it in an old family album, but I'm afraid I have no names to attach.  There's Rue For You was a one-act play by Margaret Turner, published in 1950.

Nunthorpe Women's Institute Drama Group
in 'There's Rue For You'


Friday, 7 April 2017

Revd Barlow advertises for a farm manager, 1855

Even in this short advertisement, somehow Mr Barlow's distinctive voice can be heard:

York Herald, 7 April 1855
Wanted, at May-Day, a HIND, to take Charge of a FARM.  A Man and his Wife only, would be preferred.  No Stock but his Horses to attend to. - Apply, Pre-paid, to Rev R J Barlow, Rudby Vicarage, near Yarm