Together Again - Taking steps to turn back the clock

THIRTY-FIVE descendants of the offspring of two prominent Hartlepool business people gathered on the steps of a hotel to mark 100 years since the couple tied the knot.

Members of the Birks and Lamb families travelled from as far as Canada, Italy and France to recreate this 1911 wedding day pose on the steps of the Grand Hotel, in Swainson Street.

A hundred years earlier, Hugh Hallifield Birks, son of Edwin Birks, founder of Hartlepool cafe and grocery shop chain Birks Bros, wed Emily Douglas Lamb, daughter of Henry Lamb, founder of jewellers and clockmakers H Lamb, which still trades from its premises in York Road.

The modern-day recreation of the pose was an extra-special moment for Emily and Hugh’s son George Birks, 90, who along with his brother Hugh junior, are the only two surviving children out of the couple’s five offspring, which also included Olive, Edwin and Richard.

George, who made the two-hour journey to the event from his home in Arkengarthdale, in the Yorkshire Dales, told of the emotional moment he stood where his parents had on their wedding day.

Retired banker George, who was wearing his father’s wedding ring, said: “It was quite amazing.

“I never knew I had so many relatives. “The family became so scattered.

“Until a couple of years ago, I was 100 per cent convinced the wedding photograph had been taken on the steps of the Wesley Chapel, but I couldn’t think why that would be when my mother worshipped at St Paul’s Church.

“But a couple of years ago somebody said it was taken on the steps of the Grand Hotel.

“The last time I was here was 1936, when the bigwigs of the town used to organise a yearly dance.”

Another highlight for George was when he got to chat to his older brother Hugh junior, 94, via a live videolink to Hugh’s home in Toronto in Canada.

Also at the event was Peter Birks, 64, who is Hugh junior’s son and also lives in Toronto.

The construction contractor, who helped organise the reunion with wife Sally, said the experience of standing on the steps where his grandparents had was “strange” and added he couldn’t believe the historic hotel was still in such good condition 100 years on.

Peter was wearing the H Lamb pocket watch his grandmother had given his grandfather as a wedding present and Simon Lamb, whose grandfather Robert Hutchinson Lamb was Emily Lamb’s brother, revealed he had a similar watch on him.

Michael Hall, 66, step-son of Edwin Douglas Birks, who helped to organise Saturday’s event, said: “It was important that we did this and it was an exceptional experience, especially for George.”

The event was also attended by John Davey and his wife Eileen, who have ran H Lamb jewellers since the 1980s.