Reader’s fascinating discovery shows Hartlepool 102 years ago

The 1916 Richardson Westgarths photo, showing Elizabeth Ann Cummins front row, third right, and Jerry Lawson Cummins, middle row, third left.
The 1916 Richardson Westgarths photo, showing Elizabeth Ann Cummins front row, third right, and Jerry Lawson Cummins, middle row, third left.

A search through old photographs has unearthed the Hartlepool ancestry of one Mail reader.

Lesley Robinson told us about three items she found, dating back more than 100 years.

One of the postcards sent by Jerry Lawson Cummins to his first wife, with an explanation that Hartlepool was not such as little a town as some people thought.

One of the postcards sent by Jerry Lawson Cummins to his first wife, with an explanation that Hartlepool was not such as little a town as some people thought.

The photograph and two old postcards relay details of a time gone by and we thank Lesley for the chance to share a wonderful story.

It all started when Lesley found an old photograph, and explained: “On the back, it says Richardson & Westgarth’s 1916. This was in my mother’s handwriting.”

“My grandfather is standing on the middle row, third from the left. I think the woman third from the right on the front row is my grandmother.”

The pair in question were called Jerry Lawson Cummins and Elizabeth Ann Cummins.

The message on the back of one of them says “Dear Lil, This is one of the main streets so you see it is not such a little place as people think. Jerry

Lesley Robinson

“I know they both worked in the shipyards during the First World War. This was where they met,” Lesley added.

“My grandfather had trained as an engineer at sea before the First World War and went to work, in the then new town of West Hartlepool, in the shipbuilding yards.”

They were interesting times and Lesley also told us: “He sent many postcards to his first wife from his travels and then when he began to work here. I have scanned a copy of two of the cards he sent to her before they were married. “The message on the back of one of them says “Dear Lil, This is one of the main streets so you see it is not such a little place as people think. Jerry.”

The sweet but short message was sent in 1911.

But there was a sad twist to the tale as Jerry’s first wife died in child birth.

Lesley explained how that led on to Jerry and Elizabeth Ann becoming a couple.

“He met my grandmother whilst they were working at Richardson and Westgarth during the First World War.

“They were later to go on to have three children, my mother Dorothy and two sons, Eric and Jim. My grandmother was a member of the Conservative Party and played bowls for Burn Valley and I think represented the county.”

We also thank Lesley for filling in some further detail of Jerry’s later life.

“After the Second World War, he worked as an engineer for British Rail in the repair and maintenance sheds which were located at Newburn Bridge.

“As a child, I remember waving to him as we passed on our way south, usually to Stockton on the train using our free rail passes.

“In those days, after the war, families of their workers were issued with free passes.”

We would love to hear from more people interested in sharing details of their family trees.

That might be anything from publicising details they have painstakingly gathered themselves, to a plea to Memory Lane for a helping hand in delving further back into their ancestry.

Whatever your reason for getting in touch, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk. Let’s share the memories.