The Wooden Dolly of North Shields is a tradition which was started in the early nineteenth century when a local brewer and shipowner erected an old wooden ship’s figurehead as a landmark on the quayside at North Shields (and conveniently close to one of his pubs). The wooden statue of a woman became something of a good luck charm to local fishermen who were in the habit of carving small keepsakes from the figure to take with them on voyages. Such a custom could only have one outcome and eventually most of the statue had fallen prey to the fishermen’s knives. A second, new, wooden dolly was found and erected on the same spot and in no time at all suffered the same fate. The “new wooden dolly” featured in this early twentieth century picture postcard must either be the third or fourth dolly in the sequence: a sequence which continues to this day. If you travel to North Shields you can find dolly No. 6 in residence outside the Prince of Wales pub and overlooking the River Tyne. The postcard was sent to James Hart who lived in the Northumberland town of Corbridge which is about 40 miles up the River Tyne from where it meets the sea at North Shields. It appears that Edwin and Jack were planning a quicker journey to meet James, travelling on the Tyne Valley line which runs from Newcastle to Carlisle. The fact […]
ORNAMENTAL CARVINGS, CLYDE WORKS OFFICES, THE WICKER, SHEFFIELD The Clyde Works Offices in the Wicker, Sheffield were originally built for the firm of Shortridge and Howell. John Shortridge was one of the main movers behind the construction of the magnificent Wicker Arches. He died in 1869 when his horse bolted and turned his carriage over. He would have been safer being pulled by elephants.
My name is Alan Burnett and I am an hoarder. There I have said it and I feel better now. It took a lot of doing, making that confession: indeed I wrote some notes on a large post-it pad in order to find the right words. Now if you will excuse me a moment I just need to go off […]
MANCHESTER SUNSET : (c. 1983) A plethora of verticals. Enough to give you vertigo. Bisected by a classic English taxi.
I am taking a walk along the path where history interacts with geography and words rub shoulders with images – the vintage postcard path. The destination doesn’t matter and the route is determined by the random selection of old postcards I have bought at antique fairs and auctions. Number 12 in the series sees us return to a familiar recipient […]
LOOKING TOWARDS HALIFAX FROM OLD LANE The 1970s were a time of transition, when mill chimneys were being replaced by high-rise apartments and old beer bottles by fizzy kegs.
IMPERIAL WORKS, SHEFFIELD All empires eventually fade and fall. Even empires built on saw blades, hoes and spade lugs. Rusted into history.
BRADLEY ROAD, FIXBY The description “black and white” always seems to be underselling the medium. There is grey, of course, but there is also line and shape. And you seem to notice these two far more when your eye is not distracted by all those flashy reads and bumptious greens.
The Theatre Royal, Halifax. Boarded-up, deserted. Tucked away down Shakespeare Street is the old actor’s entrance. Once the gateway to music hall, melodrama, classical theatre and opera it is now the repository for stale urine and empty bottles. A Shakespearean tragedy in Halifax.