Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Revelations About Sandgate



All who know Newcastle have heard of the Sandgate - a locality which, for filth, disease, and immorality of every description, has no equal in England, or in the world. It is pre-eminently conspicuous for everything low, debasing, and wretched. The very atmosphere breathes pollution and death. Misery and indigence seem stamped on every countenance you meet with. Crime and immorality exercise an unbridled sway in nearly every house or hovel, and the miserable inhabitants appear to be sunk in penury, wickedness, and vice.
Such is one of the quarters to which we wish the efforts of the Sanitary Association, and of all concerned for the common cause of humanity, to be especially directed. Nothing but a personal visit, such as that which we are about to describe, can enable any one to realise the condition of the population in Sandgate. It is deplorably wretched beyond description, but not beyond remedy; and therefore we offer the subjoined facts, gathered in company with Mr Buchanan, the devoted temperance missionary, with the view of promoting some ameliorative effort.
To readers at a distance, it may not be uninteresting to state that the Sandgate is a narrow street or lane, situated at the east side of Newcastle, and close to the river Tyne. The north side, to which we mean to confine our present observations, is built on a sloping declivity, and comprises, within a short distance, sixteen alleys or lanes, separated from each other by a narrow space of four or six yards. Scarcely any of these alleys are paved or flagged. Some are in a condition that only one or two parties reside in them, while others afford shelter, such as it is, to as many as twenty or thirty families. The untenanted alleys are devoted to pigs, donkeys, and horses, and are made common receptacles of the filth of the neighbourhood. There being few or rather no regular ash-pits, the people make a convenience of the landing-places on the stair-cases, the effluvia from which, we need scarcely say, is constantly generating disease. Drainage, or sewerage, to carry off the water, there is non; and, consequently, there is everywhere a polluted stream damed up, in each of these alleys, that makes it absolutely dangerous for persons having a regard to health, to enter them. As you venture to thread your way through the mass of pollution, the heavy killing miasma impedes respiration, and makes you feel at once that you are inhaling poison.
Such, in a few words, is the general character of the alleys. Let us look now at the houses and their unfortunate inhabitants. The property is all divided into single apartments. The tenants are the poorest of the poor. For a single room, scarcely fit for the reception of cattle, we found parties paying 15d a-week! Some hovels, without windows, and with the roof barely sufficient to keep out the rain, were let at 6d a-week; but the average price is 15d to 18d, and the sums are levied weekly, not by the landlords, but by collectors specially retained for the purpose, and whose office, if we may judge from the angry complaints of the poor tenants, must be a very unenviable one. In one of the alleys, where the property seemed in good condition, the new water had been introduced by the landlords, to the great satisfaction of the people; but, in others, the only supply for washing is brought from the ricer, and for cooking, they have recourse to a small "pant" at an inconvenient distance, where this indispensable element of health is doled out at a farthing a skeelful! 
Most of the houses are entered by a narrow flight of steps outside the buildings. On reaching the summit of these rude elevations, you are invited to grope your way into passages where light never enters, and up wooden stairs that threaten at every footstep to yield to the slightest pressure. The apertures made, in the shape of windows, to admit light, are the rudest contrivances imaginable. Few of them are glazed. Some consist of the patchwork of old rags, boards and straw, which are taken out when the weather permits, to allow the air and the light to enter. The narrowness of the alleys is another obstacle to the health of their occupants, the average of them being little more than four feet. Almost our first insight to one of these hovels, revealed a sad spectacle. Scarcely an article of furniture was to be seen in the room. The wife, as we were informed, lay ill in bed, the children, clothed in rags, were amusing themselves, to the best of their ability, and the husband was suffering from the effects of intemperance. The next case was even worse. A mother, bearing the traces of superior mental and physical qualities, met us at the door, with a fine boy, four years old, in her hand. She has fled from Ireland, with her husband and family, to escape the famine. The husband, though they had been several weeks in the town, had been unable to obtain employment. Two of their children had been seized with one of those epidemics so fatal to infant years, and were more like death than life. And yet, the poor woman spoke in hopeful tones! If her husband only obtained work, all would be well. Such cases, which we might easily multiply, show how patiently suffering is endured by the humbler classes. Another case that we met with, afforded a fine illustration of a great truth which Dr. Chalmers advocated in his Christian Economics, namely that the poor are the most active and generous supporters of the poor. In looking into a kind of hut, close to which was a large pig-stye, we found three women, an able-bodied man, and one or two young children. The occupier or tenant of the house was so poor that she could with difficulty obtain food or lodging for herself and family; and yet, with a generosity that did honour to our common humanity, she had given the shelter of her humble abode to a mother and two sick children that had been driven from Ireland by famine! Perhaps the most striking example of poverty-stricken individuals crowding together in this quarter, was the case of 27 individuals being huddled up in a miserable room of 15 by 12 feet in size! This group comprised four families. They had neither beds nor bedding, and almost no fire. They were all from the sister-isle, and complained bitterly of their woeful condition - without food, fire, and little or no clothing - lodged in a room so dark they could scarcely recognise each other at noonday!
Fellow townsmen - Such are samples of the misery and wretchedness at your own doors. While were are not insensible to the condition of Ireland, we think Newcastle has the first claim. It is a mockery to send tracts or missionaries to these famishing multitudes. They need, we know, moral and religious training, and such of them as we conversed with, deplored their ignorance and debasement. But, their first wants are those of nature - food and clothing. Supply these, and then talk to them of religion. Give them the opportunity, by enabling them to have better dwellings, and they will become better men and better women. At present, they are worse than savages. Every third or fourth house is the abode of disease, and not a few are the open and undisguised nurseries of vice in its most hideous forms. The disease which originates in Sandgate must, in course of time, spread to other parts of the town. Past experience shows that this has been the case. Let an effort, then, be made, to uplift the population of such quarters as Sandgate from their present degradation. It requires no lavish expenditure of money or labour. A little of the energy and self-denial which are directed to other movements would be perfectly sufficient for the one now suggested. Who will engage in it? Let the response equal the importance of the undertaking, and the result will be, one of greatest social and moral reforms ever attempted in Newcastle. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Munificent Shum-Storeys | Part One

On 6 June 1842 at Ramsgate, Kent the daughter of an Esquire and land proprietor was born. The baby girl was named Emmeline Ann, and was baptised exactly one month later at St George's church, Ramsgate. 

The announcement of Emmeline's birth.

Emmeline's parents were Henry Shum and Emma Cooper, who had married in Marylebone two years previously. Emmeline already had an elder brother named George Henry, and in the years after two younger sisters were born; Nina Caroline and Lilian Margaret. 

One of the Shum family's ancestors was a man named Robert Storey, who owned land near Cramlington, Northumberland. George Shum married Robert Storey's daughter, Ann and from that day forward the two families were united, with George Shum taking his wife's maiden name as his own, becoming George Shum-Storey. George went on to build the family's Northumbrian seat Arcot Hall, on his father-in-law's land. 

Arcot Hall; the seat of the Shum-Storey family.

The Shum-Storeys were generous and kind landowners. They acknowledged the fact that they were privileged at a time when so many were not, and accepted their responsibility to help those poorer and less-advantaged than themselves. They instilled these values in their children, and Emmeline in particular took it to heart.

Emmeline's parents were frequent donors to the Newcastle Infirmary, giving old linen and also money donations. In their closer locality they often gave warm clothing, coal and money to the poor of Cramlington. During the Crimean War the family donated considerable money to the Royal Patriotic Fund; a charity set up to help the widows, orphans and other dependents of members of the armed forces killed during the war.

In September 1863, Mrs Emma Shum-Storey paid for the members of the Cramlington Church Choir to go to Warkworth for their annual trip. The choir were able to tour the castle, the Hermitage and walk around the picturesque village.

On 19 October 1861, Emmeline's father Henry Shum-Storey died at Arcot Hall. He was buried the churchyard of St Nicholas, Cramlington, in the family vault.

"FUNERAL OF H. SHUM STOREY, ESQ. - The remains of this deceased gentleman were interred in Cramlington church-yard, on Saturday last. The funeral cortège, consisted of the hearse, four mourning coaches, containing relatives and friends of the deceased, and several private carriages, followed by the tenants and servants on foot, arrived at the church about 11 a.m., when the service was read by the Rev. J. Smithard, Incumbent. As a mark of respect in which the deceased was held, a large concourse of the inhabitants of the parish joined the procession to the grave. The shops of the tradespeople in the village were closed, and flags half-mast high were displayed in the collieries of Messrs. Lamb, Potter, and Co., at Cramlington, Shank House, and Dudley. As owner of the Arcot Estate, Mr. Storey has long been known for his readiness in assisting any cause having for its object the welfare and improvement of the neighbourhood; and whether as a genial and warm-hearted neighbour, a kind and considerable landlord, or an unvarying friend to the poor, his memory will long be cherished, and his loss deeply felt."
- Newcastle Journal, 28 October 1861

At Henry Shum-Storey's death, his son George Henry inherited the Arcot Estate. Like his late father, George was a kind and charitable man. He donated to numerous funds and charities, and even bought instruments for the local fledgling brass band. He was also a keen donor to the Hartley Pit Disaster Fund in early 1862. 

On 12 July 1866, Emma Shum-Storey died at Arcot Hall. She was remembered as the widow of the late and great Henry Shum-Storey, Esquire, as well as the daughter of the late Robert Chester Cooper of Lewes, Sussex. 

Three years later on 27 April 1869, George Henry Shum-Storey married Gertrude Isabella Shawe at High Hesket, Cumberland. 

George Henry Shum-Storey and Gertrude Isabella Shawe's marriage notice.

Sadly the marriage did not last long, as George died on 17 December 1869, whilst visiting Malta. His body was quickly returned to Cramlington for the funeral. His funeral was described almost identically to his father's eight years before. Much grief was felt by all in the small parish of Cramlington. Gertrude Shum-Storey never remarried.

Emmeline was now the heir, albeit female, to the Shum-Storey legacy. On 12 June 1872, Emmeline married Laurence Paulet Shawe at Cramlington. He was the elder brother of her bereft sister-in-law, Gertrude. There was great celebration in Cramlington and surrounding areas, and a mass of people turned out to honour the fantastic occasion. 

On Wednesday, the marriage of Captain Shawe, late of the Royal Marines, only surviving son of the late Captain and Hon. Mrs Shawe, of Sevres Lodge, York, and nephew of Viscount Bolingbroke, with Miss Shum-Storey, eldest daughter of the late Henry Shum-Storey, Esq., of Arcot Hall, in the county of Northumberland, was celebrated in the parish church of Cramlington, in the presence of a large number of the relatives and friends of the bride and bridegroom. In honour of the occasion the cottagers and servants had erected a number of arches of evergreens and flowers over the road from the hall to the church, the principal of these being a triple arch near the Dam-dyke Farm, composed of ivy, laurel, and holly, with geraniums and other flowers blooming in pots in various parts of it, and a verdant and floral true lover's know depending from the crown of the centre span. Flags of various colours and designs waved from every prominent point within sight of Arcot or Cramlington, guns were fired from several places from the early morning till late in the evening, and the cheerful and appropriate music of the Seaton Burn Saxhorn band augmented the festive character of the proceedings. The bridal party left the hall in seven carriages, each drawn by a pair of handsome grey horses, ridden by properly costumed equerries. The bride was dressed in white corded satin, trimmed with Brussels lace, tulle, and bouquets of orange blossoms, with a tulle veil and wreath, and pearl ornaments. The bridesmaids, Miss Shum-Storey, Miss Shum, Miss Edith Shawe, Miss Montague-Shawe, Miss Hind, and Miss Bramwell, were dressed in white tarletan trimmed with cerise, Dolly Varden caps with tulle ends, and bouquets. The groomsmen were Mr Ernest Shum, of London, Mr Carr, Newcastle; Capt. Murray, 14th Brigade Royal Artillery, Newcastle; and the Hon. Mr Shore, of the Royal Artillery. A large number of persons assembled in the church to witness the interesting ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. C. C. Snowdon, vicar of Mitford, assisted by the Rev. J. Smithard-Hind, D.C.L, vicar of Cramlington. The bride was given away by her uncle Mr Robt. Shum-Storey, of London, and at the conclusion of the service the Wedding March was played on the organ. As they left the church flowers were strewn by little girls ranged on each side of the pathway from the porch to the gate, and the villagers set up a hearty cheer. On the return to Arcot Hall a magnificent breakfast was placed before the wedding guests, who included in addition to those ladies and gentlemen already mentioned the Honourable Mrs Shawe, of Sevres Lodge, York, mother of the bridegroom; the Rev. Ambrose and Mrs Jones, Stannington Vicarage; Mr and Mrs Bramwell, Jesmond Hall; Miss Shawe; Miss G. Jones; Mr and Mrs Woodruffe, Heywood Abbey, Staffordshire; Mrs Shum-Storey, London; aunt to the bride; Mr Atkinson, Moorland Hall, Penrith; Mr Cooper, Clifton; Captain Barret, Heighington, Darlington; the Rev. C. C. Snowdon of Mitford; and the Rev. Dr. and Mrs Smithard-Hind, Cramlington. The bride's health was proposed in graceful terms by the Rev. C. C. Snowdon. The toast was honoured with bumpers, and soon afterwards the happy couple drove to Newcastle to catch the 2:10 express for the south of England, where they will stay during the honeymoon. The bride is the happy recipient of a large number of very handsome and costly wedding presents from her relatives and friends, all of which were displayed in the drawing room for the inspection of the guests. In the afternoon the school children at Cramlington and the members of the choir were entertained in honour of the wedding. A dinner is to be given to cottagers and servants at Arcot Hall on Friday, and the festivities will be continued on Saturday, when the tenants on the estate will dine together at the Queen's Head Hotel in this town."
- Newcastle Courant, 14 June 1872

In May the following year, Queen Victoria granted Laurence and Emmeline a Royal license allowing them to take and use the ancestral name Storey. This enabled Laurence to take and bear the arms and crest of the Storey family, as well as any children arising from his marriage to Emmeline to take the name Shawe-Storey.

Emmeline definitely found her equal in Laurence, as he too was generous, kind and charitable in nature. The local community certainly took to Laurence, the new quasi-Lord of Arcot Hall. He was asked to be the honorary president of the Shankhouse Football Club, although this only came about after a handsome donation to the club. Laurence was described as an "ardent supporter" of the club in later years. 

In 1893, Emmeline and Laurence donated fresh fruit and vegetables to the Royal Seaman and Marines' Orphan School. Laurence had formerly been captain in the Royal Marines, but this was perhaps not the only reason they had made a donation to this particular cause, as Emmeline and Laurence's marriage was childless.

The Shawe-Storeys must have felt a huge sense of missing, and so children were the most frequent beneficiaries of their charity and generosity. In June 1897, Great Britain celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Laurence and Emmeline funded a massive celebration at Elm Lodge, Bursledon, Hampshire, their southern residence. Over two-hundred school children were invited to the festivities. 

Captain and Mrs Shawe-Storey were a big part of the Cramlington community, and they managed many events. There was a great church bazaar in August 1899, which lasted for three days. The event was opened by Laurence, and Emmeline herself presided over the various stalls set up in the school at East Cramlington.

Sadly, this wasn't to last. On 4 January 1905, Laurence Paulet Shawe-Storey died after having an operation for appendicitis. Laurence and Emmeline were obviously well-matched, but I think the death of her husband liberated Emmeline in a way. After Laurence's death, she began giving out larger amounts of money to local causes and organisations. Perhaps Emmeline needed a cause to fill the void caused by the loss of Laurence. 

Emmeline had converted to Catholicism only a few years before, and she noticed there were no Catholic churches in the locality. She enquired with a local priest who was using the school chapel at Annitsford, close to the Arcot Estate. Emmeline decided soon after that she would donate some of her land nearby, and pay for the building of a new Catholic church. So in early October 1905, only nine months after the death of Laurence, the chief stone of the new Catholic church was laid and blessed at Annitsford.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

On This Day - My ANZAC Great-Grandfather

On this day 100 years ago my great-grandfather, Robert Mavin Storey, joined the 8th Field Ambulance of the Australian Imperial Force. 

Private R. M. Storey
Robert was born in March 1887 at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, England, to Adam Storey and Jane Mavin. He was named after his maternal grandfather. 

When Robert was three years old, his parents enrolled him in Newbiggin Church School. He was described as "very little", and the school mistress didn't believe he would attend very well. 

When he was older, Robert was involved with the local football team, and was an apprentice for some five years to a local master bricklayer. In 1911, Robert's older brother Eddie emigrated to Canada, and ended up saying there for two years. Eddie and Robert had already decided they wanted to travel together, so in December 1913 they embarked to Australia.

Robert joined the Australian Imperial Force on 8 May 1916 at Teralba, NSW, where he was living at the time. He had been working on building sites there, and lived in Pitt Street. A week later on 15 May, Robert formally joined the 8th Field Ambulance unit. 

When on extended leave in England in September 1919, Robert married Minnie Metcalf at Morpeth. They set off for Australia the following March, with their first stop being Teralba. From Teralba they moved on to Weston. There they had four children, before embarking back to England in 1934.

Back in his birth town, Robert set up his own building business, and on one occasion stood in the local council elections. 

Robert missed Australia dearly, and so went back there alone in September 1952. He died there over a year later in December 1953, at a fairly young age. The only consolation for his premature death was that it happened in his beloved Australia.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The Sandgate Riot

Anti-Catholicism in the 1850s was rife. This xenophobic attitude came from the incredible influx of Irish Catholics, who sought refuge during and after the potato famine. Officials thought it much better if the Irish population were of the Protestant faith, but others were plain anti-Irish. Sadly, history is constantly repeating itself, and those of other faiths, cultures or ethnicities are still seen as a burden, too foreign or a nuisance. As is the case today, those seen as foreign or a irritant were demonised by newspapers and other media outlets. 

Naturally, destitute Irish migrants went to industrious towns and cities around the world. In Britain, the majority went to Glasgow, Barrow, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. They took up manual work, such as labouring jobs, coal and iron mining, and shipbuilding. Dundee was a centre for linen, and so Irish settlers also went there. 

The impoverished, emaciated Irish.
The Irish were conscious of the ill-feeling towards them from English natives and officials. They lived with threats from Poor Law officials about the possibility of removal back to Ireland if they proved too burdensome. When the famine conditions were better understood by officials and others of rank, they did become more lenient to the poor Irish, although they still held their prejudices. 

The Irish typically settled in old, tenement buildings in the poorer parts of towns and cities. In Newcastle, a lot of Irish migrants settled in the Sandgate area, located in All Saints parish. 

'Most of the houses are entered by a narrow flight of steps outside the buildings. On reaching the summit of these rude elevations, you are invited to grope your way into passages where light never enters, and up wooden stairs that threaten at every footstep to yield to the slightest pressure. The apertures made, in the shape of windows, to admit light, are the rudest contrivances imaginable. Few of them are glazed. Some consist of the patchwork of old rags, boards and straw, which are taken out when the weather permits, to allow the air and the light to enter. The narrowness of the alleys is another obstacle to the health of their occupants, the average of them being little more than four feet. Almost our first insight to one of these hovels, revealed a sad spectacle. Scarcely an article of furniture was to be seen in the room. The wife, as we were informed, lay ill in bed, the children, clothed in rags, were amusing themselves, to the best of their ability, and the husband was suffering from the effects of intemperance.'
- The Newcastle Guardian, 24 April 1847

Sandgate, Newcastle circa. 1890
From Newcastle Libraries, Flickr

In Newcastle, the Irish were blamed for the increase in fever rates, although records show that fever was a constant problem in the Sandgate ghetto long before the famine and the influx of Irish migrants. As well as being used as a scapegoat for such worrying illnesses, the Irish were generally thought of as drunken, violent and angry layabouts. 

The Irish Catholics were devout in their faith, and so were quick to defend it, the Pope, and themselves from English slurs. Sensing the tension, people known as 'ranters' targeted the areas inhabited by the Irish, and tried their best to provoke and thus further vilify and demonise the Catholic population. 

A man who went by the name of 'Ranter Dick' went to Sandgate one Sunday night in May 1851 and delivered a sermon of No-Popery, denouncing the Pope and the Catholic faith. He was described as a dilettante; a foolish, unintelligent man who had no real knowledge of the subject matter, only wishing to provoke and cause trouble. It worked.

As most of our readers are aware, there is one street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne of almost universal notoriety. We do not allude to Grey Street, or Grainger Street, or Clayton Street, with their gorgeous buildings and magnificent shops, and their pathways continuously crowded with the fashionable, gay, or industrious pedestrians. These streets have their fame, but none of them are so long, so widely, known to fame as Sandgate. This street is situated at the lower end of the quay, and runs parallel with the Tyne to the south, and the New Road to the north. It is formed on both its sides by houses which appear to have been erected far beyond the reach of legal memory. To the eye they appear old, rickety, filthy hovels, and they are inhabited by the lowest of the people. The Irish are congregated in great numbers, and it is said that for some time past they have been cultivating feelings of hostility towards the English portion of their neighbours, in consequence of the recent agitation on the Papal question. This feeling found vent on Sunday afternoon last, when there arose a quarrel between them and the English, which was not thoroughly quelled for several days. How this riot originated it is difficult to say. The accounts are so contradictory; the people on the spot are not agreed; the police are not agreed; indeed, there appears to be no agreement whatever. Some attribute the disturbance to some one who was preaching in the open air, and who made some allusion to the Pope; others allege that an Irishman striking an English woman led to the tumult. Whatever was the immediate cause, it was not long before the Englishmen had to flee in all directions. Four police officers then appeared upon the scene, and attempted to clear the streets, but they were resisted, and two of them were rather severely handled. Having this driven away the officers of the peace, the Irishmen, to the number of upwards of two hundred, issued simultaneously from different alleys and lanes into the main street, armed with huge sticks, iron rods, pokers, tongs, coalrakes, and other steadily available offensive weapons, while women and lads accompanied them with brick-bats and missiles of various descriptions, shouting in a hideous manner. One of the rioters, who appeared to act as a ringleader, exclaiming, "Och, by Jasus, we'll take Sandgate to-night, and be revenged on every ----- in it." These words were soon followed up by actions. Stones, brick-bats, and other missiles flew in every direction, breaking windows, and otherwise destroying the property of the peaceful inhabitants. The English appeared to have been panic stricken by the violence of their opponents, and no resistance was offered until the arrival of a strong reinforcement of police, when the supremacy of the Irish mis-rule was completely subverted. In a very short time twenty or thirty of the more prominent rioters were in the hands of the police. Then it was that the work of the retribution commenced. The unfortunate Irishmen, now in custody, were set upon by the infuriated English. Women with rolling-pins battened them without mercy; and, but for the exertions of the police, the lives of some of them might have fallen a sacrifice. By the combined exertions of the police and the English, the Irishmen were completely overcome, the those who escaped being taken into custody, decamped from the scene of destruction as rapidly as possible, and left town next morning. The streets in the neighbourhood, however, for several days after were thronged with persons desirous of seeing the extent of the injury committed. That was of great extent. On Monday morning, the shop-windows remained unopened, and business was carried on inside by the aid of a swealing candle, or a flickering jet of smoky and offensive gas. About forty prisoners were brought up at the police court on Monday morning, before the Mayor, Mr. Philipson, Mr. Atkinson, and Capt. West. Peter Develin, a lodging-housekeeper, charged with exciting the mob, and presenting a pistol at a police-officer was fined £5, or one month imprisonment with hard labour. The others were variously mulcted in sums varying from 2s. 6d. to £2, with the alternative from seven days to one month. Several not identified were admonished and discharged. One of the witnesses attributed the outbreak to the conduct of the Watch Committee in having dismissed two active officers, Prior and Nicholson. The inhabitants of Sandgate had sent a memorial to the committee to replace the officers, but they would not, and from that time the Irish were uncontrollable; and one of the witnesses said he believed that if something was not done, they would some day tear down their dwellings.'
- Newcastle Journal, 17 May 1851

From the slums of Newcastle, the Irish later settled in mining communities in towns and villages. They may have been liberated from the poverty and conditions of Sandgate, but they never truly escaped the harsh prejudices. Some prejudice is still apparent towards Catholics and Irishmen.