Workmen uncover century of history beneath wallpaper of historic home

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.
Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

A HOUSE renovation project has proved to be a real sign of the times.

When workmen stripped back the layers of paper on the wall of a house in Sheriff Street, Hartlepool, they found more than 100 years of history.

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

The layers revealed the signatures of every decorator who had changed the decor of the property going back to the early 1900s.

They found the years, names and a brief description from 1990, 1966 and even 1908.

The house is being renovated by the charity Hartlepool NDC Trust.

Its manager Stuart Drummond said: “The Trust runs a project called Opening Doors which renovates empty properties. We provide a training aspect where we take referrals from the Job Centre.”

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

It means long-term unemployed people get to work on schemes such as the one in Sheriff Street and they are trained to Open College Network Level 1 standard in construction. But there was an extra bonus to the project in one of the bedrooms of the two-bedroom house in Sheriff Street.

Mr Drummond said: “There was about four layers of wallpaper. When we stripped them off, we came across these signatures.

“On closer inspection, it was the previous people who have decorated the property. They have signed it and left their signature.

“They have left details such as their job. It would say paper hanger or decorator.

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

Site Manager, Darren Pybus writes his name alongside other signatures of decorators dating back to 1908, found after the walls were stripped.

“It was a nice thing to find. It looks like it was common practice.”

Hartlepool NDC Trust has been working on a number of properties, which have stood empty in the town for more than six months, on behalf of different organisations under the Government’s Empty Homes Scheme.

The Trust uses people with skills in areas such as joinery, painting, decorating, plumbing, plastering, electrics and roofing.

Mr Drummond said: “We bring the properties up to Government standard for social housing.”

Hartlepool NDC Trust is a community-led charitable company and its aims are to make a positive difference in central Hartlepool. It was set up as a legacy of the New Deal for Communities programme that ran for more than 10 years in the town.

The Trust was set up in 2008 and it has already provided work-based learning opportunities for more than 50 trainees.