Pointing To The Past : Jack Likes Pears


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 that “Jack likes pears” is just one of those inconsequential historical details that only old picture postcards can provide.

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