BRANCH North Tyneside
North Tyneside Branch,
First Floor Meeting Room
Whitley Bay Library and Customer First Centre
York Road
Whitley Bay
NE26 1AB
Contact: Susan Lynn (chair, NT Branch)


Meetings on 1st Tuesday in the month at 1.30 p.m.
(No meeting in July & August)

All visitors are welcome

Date Subject of Talk Speaker
5th December 2023 Christmas Lunch
2nd January 2024 No Meeting

Branch Newsletter


Reports of meetings

November 2023

November was our members forum, which was well attended. The Branch Secretary delivered a short power presentation entitled A Day at the Seaside which featured a number of pictures of old Whitley Bay/Cullercoats/ Tynemouth. Our members were asked to bring along old photos of their family at the beach and shared lots of memories of holidays spent at the coast.

Tea coffee and biscuits were served as it was our last meeting to be held at North Shields library.

Our December meeting will be our annual Christmas lunch at Davanti Italian restaurant in Tynemouth on the 5th Dec. There will be no meeting in January 2024, and from February our new location will be in Whitley Bay library. Meetings will continue to be on the first Tuesday of each month at 1.30pm.

October 2023

The October meeting had 15 attendees with apologies from 3 members.

Our Chair explained we would no longer be able to meet at North Shields Library in the New Year due to the room being booked for day long classes in future. We have hopefully secured rooms in Whitley Bay Library for February 2024 – further information to be discussed at our November Meeting.

It was decided that our annual Christmas Party will take place on Dec 5th at Divante Italian Restaurant at Tynemouth Metro Station – Chair to take deposits at our next meeting.

Our Speaker in October was the excellent Ann Franklin, who took us on her personal journey including visiting America, tracing possible ancestors in a talk entitled ” A Yankee in Tyneside”. Stemming from tales as a child of a relative who had commanded a Fort in the USA, Ann explored information regarding a Mr Thomas Hurlbutt who set sail from London in the 17th century for Boston. She traced where he met with native Americans and the possible connection to her great, great, grandfather William Henry Hurlbutt who census records place in North Sheilds over two hundred years later.

Our next Meeting will be at 1.30pm in North Sheilds Library (for the last time) on Tuesday 7th Nov. It will be a Members Forum with the Topic being “a Day at the Seaside” when all will be encouraged to talk about their family memories of trips to the coast.

September 2023

At our NDFHS meeting on Tuesday 5th Sept we had 13 members in attendance, with 7 apologies and 1 visitor.

One of our members George Aitchison delivered a very interesting talk on John Wiiliam Salmon born in 1862 who had resided in Newcastle Terrace., North Shields, in his early years. As an adult he immigrated to New Zealand where he became one of their most influential and renowned jurist. He brought order to Māori law and lands. In 1918 he became a Knight of the Realm, and in 1920 a Supreme Court judge. Whist he was a very prominent person in New Zealand, very little few people in his native North Shields were aware of his fame. The talk was very well documented and detailed.

We were given an updated Trustees report from Prof John Heckles which included details of the Society change of premises from MEA House and looking at possible other locations where it maybe re housed. We discussed options for our Christmas luncheon venue and it was suggested to go for a pizza in Tynemouth, Chair will take this forward.

June 2023

The June meeting was well attended by 15 members plus 1 visitor, 4 apologies.

Our guest speaker was Anne Clouston, the subject of her talk being Westoe Cemetry. Anne provided some interesting information on the symbols of headstones and monuments together with lots of facts about burials including pictures of Body Safes, invented to prevent the work of body snatchers! Anne spoke about several prominent local people buried in the cemetery including Dr Winterbottom and Robert Ingham MP and Roberts Redhead the shipbuilder.

Please be aware our group will not be meeting over the summer, our next session will be on Tuesday 5th Sept in North Shields library at 1.30pm.

May 2023

We did not have an actual meeting in June but instead visited Christ Church in North Shields accompanied by their guide, Michael Scott, which we could highly recommend to other groups.
The church dates back to the 1660 s with many alterations and additions over the centuries and an interesting tale about the font which has only in recent years been discovered.

Our June meeting is back again in North Shields Library with Ann Clouston as our guest speaker on Weston Cemetery.

April 2023

We had 15 members attend our April meeting with apologies from six people. Volunteers were sought to assist with the local history fair which is taking place in North Shields Library on Saturday 13th May.

The topic we discussed was the WW2 Wilkinson Air Raid with an excellent talk given by Peter Bologer. A tragic occurrence happened in North Shields on the 3 May 1941 when a German bomb made a hit on Wilkinson Soda factory in George Street in the town. The cellar of the factory was used by local people as an air raid shelter, the direct hit went through the roof which resulted in heavy machinery crashing through the cellar below crushing the majority of people sheltering there. In total 107 people died. This was the second highest death toll outside of London during WW2. Peter gave a detailed description of events leading up to this tragic event and also the rescue operation which followed. Further information can be found on the website NS 173.ORG

Our Chair reminded members our May Meeting is an outing. This is a guided tour of Christ Church in North Shields on the 2nd of May at 1.00pm. There will be a charge of £5.00 to cover refreshments and a contribution for church funds.

March 2023

There were 12 people in attendance with 10 apologies (the cold and snowy weather had impact).
Our speaker for this month was Newcastle City Guide John North on the topic of the North East Coastal Exhibition of 1929.

John built a background picture of Tyneside at this time which was the decade of the opening of the Tyne Bridge, Carliol House being built, together with Market Street Police Station and The Fire Station on Pilgrim Street. Cars were becoming a more popular form of transport and the first Newcastle Airport opened. However there were still great economic differences in trade between North and the south of England. The Exhibition wanted to promote Tyneside Industries and Arts, and was a big success with over 4 million people attending the event over the summer of 1929 on the town moor in Newcastle. John provided some excellent illustrations to support his talk and all enjoyed it. Some members spoke of their parents and grandparents having told them of memories attending this occasion.

All NDFHS members welcome at our next meeting on April 4th in North Shields Library 1.30pm, when our speaker will be Peter Bolger on the topic of the devastation of Wilkinson Soda Factory during a WW2 Air Raid.

February 2023

The meeting on the 7th February opened with the Branch AGM. The Chair opened the meeting with her report, followed by Secretary, Treasurer and Branch Trustee reports. The Officers all agreed to stand for re-election being Susan Lynn – Chair, Keiran-Ann Keilty – Secretary, Jan Husband – Treasurer and Rhoda Lee – Trustee Representative. It was proposed, seconded and carried the full committee be re-elected.

Our speaker this month was one of our own members Professor John Heckles on the topic of A Street through Time. This was based on Lish Avenue in Whitley Bay. John had discovered some of his family members had at different times lived in this street, and all with very different stories to tell.

The first part of his talk was the life story of Richard Heckles Nesbit who at the age of 27 moved first to Australia then to New Zealand in 1886. After many different adventures he returned to the town very prosperous and built a major part of Whitley Bay. A second relative who was born in 1907 was Mary Greaves, who despite her own ailments was a champion for Disability Rights, including the introduction of the Blue Badge Scheme.

Finally John told the tale of William Fisher who had an interesting past, working as a Russian spy and was the main subject of the film Bridge of Spies. A very enjoyable talk, which all members enjoyed.

January 2023

Branch members were contacted to advise the meeting was cancelled as it was felt the date was too close to the New Year holiday.

December 2022

Branch Christmas Lunch

Last updated: 6th December 2023