The day a legend was born

HISTORIAN John Oxley who has researched the history of the buildings in Church Square
HISTORIAN John Oxley who has researched the history of the buildings in Church Square

THE history of a famous street in Hartlepool contains links to one of the town’s most famous names.

Last week, we began telling the story of Collingwood House and The Whitehouse, which can be found in Church Square to this day.

Their background has been researched by town man John Oxley, 66, and processed into a book which is now on sale at £4.99. Copies are available in the Central Library, in York Road.

The book tells how one of the residents of Collingwood House and The Whitehouse was a Dr Eustace MacLean Swanwick, a medical practitioner licensed with the Royal College of Physicians.

On January 17, 1883, his skills were very much needed when he attended at the birth of Sir Compton Mackenzie, the celebrated author whose best known works were Whisky Galore and Monarch of the Glen.

A lasting friendship developed between the Swanwicks and the Mackenzies, and the Mackenzies would visit the Swanwick home whenever their touring comedy act was in town.

In later life, Sir Compton commented on how he would not have lived at all if it were not for the skill of Dr Swanwick.

Dr Swanwick was also the consulting physician to the Hartlepools Hospital and medical officer to the North Eastern Railway Company.

The Swanwicks remained in residence in The Whitehouse until 1939.

Later, The Whitehouse was used as the head office for the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company and now houses The Northern School of Music.

Neighbouring Collingwood House had a Thomas Barraclough as its occupant.

And while Thomas senior was in the linen industry, Thomas junior joined the staff of the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company.

l Next week: a welcome to a man of Leipzig.