Building knowledge

Former Shipping Chambers, Surtees Street. Inset below, Madelaine Robinson, granddaughter, and the grandmother of Michael Godfrey Bell
Former Shipping Chambers, Surtees Street. Inset below, Madelaine Robinson, granddaughter, and the grandmother of Michael Godfrey Bell

A RESEARCHER carrying out work for a family history fan is hoping Mail readers can shed some light on a Hartlepool building with links to her client’s ancestry.

Readers of the Together Again column have already come forward to help provide information for Michael Godfrey Bell, the great-great-grandson of Thomas Robinson, who became the sixth Mayor of West Hartlepool in 1892.

Madelaine Robinson, Thomas Robinson's granddaughter, and the grandmother of Michael Godfrey Bell.

Madelaine Robinson, Thomas Robinson's granddaughter, and the grandmother of Michael Godfrey Bell.

Thomas was born in 1840 in Yorkshire and rose to be a successful merchant.

Margaret Hedley, who runs the Past Uncovered family history research company, alongside Wheatley Hill History Club, is helping Michael’s search.

Margaret appeared in the Mail in June, describing how five people had been in touch with Michael, including another great-great-grandson of Thomas Robinson, who lives in Hull.

Now Margaret is appealing for information on the background of a building in Surtees Street which belonged to the Robinson family.

Margaret said: “The building is at 9 Surtees Street, on the corner of Surtees Street and George Street.
 “If anyone has any information about the building, or photographs of the inside or outside of how it used to look over the years, that would be great.

“It belonged to the Robinsons, was built in 1886 and was their shipping office.

“In the 1880s, the Robinsons had three ships built – SS Vulcan, SS Juno and SS 
Venus.”

Margaret obtained the plans of the building from Teesside Archives on behalf of Michael, whose grandmother Madelaine Robinson was Thomas’ granddaughter.

She added: “I only recently found this building and didn’t realise it would still be standing. Michael would like to include some information about this building in his book.”

She added that the Robinsons also owned Number 8 warehouse on Middleton Docks and used to import millions of eggs as part of their business.

The Mail previously reported that the Robinson family’s homes included Houghton House, which was to become Foggy Furze library, as well as Tunstall Court.

Thomas Robinson was the third son of Thomas Robinson senior, a blacksmith, and Mary Ann Atkinson.

His brothers were Atkinson, Robert, William, George and Samuel.

Thomas started out as a broker’s clerk, probably in the shipbuilding industry in Middlesbrough, where he and his family were living in 1851.

He married Alice Houghton, a farmer’s daughter from Lancashire, in 1854 in Bingley, Yorkshire.

At the time of his marriage, records show he lived in Seaton Carew and was an ironsmith.

He went on to be a provisions merchant, running a family business, Thomas Robinson & Sons of West Hartlepool and Hull, a major importer of foreign produce.

Thomas died in 1907 in Egton, near Whitby, at the home of his daughter, Esther. His other children were Charles Houghton Robinson, Edith Mary Robinson (married to the Reverend Bennett of All Saints, Stranton), Edward Osborne Robinson, Constance Robinson, Thomas Alexander Robinson, Alice Ada Robinson, Esther P Robinson and Bessie Robinson.

Charles Houghton Robinson and Constance Robinson both married into the wealthy Furness family.

Anyone with information can email margaret@pastuncovered.co.uk or call 07977 546332.