Author Topic: SOUTH TYNESIDE - JANUARY 2020 MEETING REPORT  (Read 877 times)

Offline Annf

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« on: January 24, 2020, 04:17:10 PM »
The speaker at the meeting held on the 14th January was Susan Lynn who gave a talk “Dockwray Square – Rise, Fall, Renassance”.

This was yet another example from Susan showing meticulous research into her subject in which she used old maps and photographs to illustrate how in the 17th century the majority of the housing and industries at the mouth of the Tyne were centred near the water’s edge.  In 1763 Thomas Dockwray, the grandson of Thomas Dockwray Vicar of Tynemouth 1668-1671, was instrumental in developing the square with housing for the more affluent community; often making use of stones from the nearby Tynemouth Priory.  Some of the earliest inhabitants who commissioned houses were Shipwrights and Master Mariners such as Captain Coates, shipowners/builders Hutchinson and Walker, the latter two having buildings and terraces named after them.

One of the square’s most famous residents was Stan Laurel.  Although he was born in Ulverston, Cumbria in 1890 as Arthur Stanley Jefferson, he lived with his grandparents at No. 8 Dockwray Square whilst his parents, who were involved with the theatre, were away touring. It is believed it was her Laurel made his first venture into acting by making a small theatre in the attic of No.8.

It had become apparent in the 1850’s there was limited drainage and water supplies resulting in the need for many of the houses to have their own wells.  The decline of the square started towards the late 1800’s when many of the houses had become too large for single families and the 1901 and 1911 census show many of the properties were those of multi-occupancy.  During this time it was not uncommon for unmarried ladies to set up a school.  One such lady who attended school here was Miss Norah Balls who went on to become a militant suffragette.   
In 1920 some of the houses were demolished to make way for a printing works and by the 1930s the area was becoming very dilapidated.  1948 saw the local Corporation taking over the upkeep of the estate but in 1956 the area was declared unfit for human habitation.  Following further demolition in 1958 Corporation flats were built but these soon became modern day slums.   In the 1980s a rebuilding programme was initiated with the properties designed to try and emanate the original housing.  The builders also commissioned a statue of Stan Laurel which was unveiled in 1990.