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About Paul Perry

Hello, I’m Paul Perry. My fascination for old photographs of Jarrow goes back to when I was a young boy of nine. I have vivid memories of viewing an exhibition which depicted the condition of the buildings in Jarrow during the 1950s. The sooty deposits on their blackened fascias were the result of many years of heavy engineering. The display of photographs also portrayed the effects this pollution had upon the health of the town’s 30,000 inhabitants. This experiment resulted in Jarrow being chosen as one of the first towns in the country to enjoy a smokeless zone status.

It is only in modern times, as we look back at the photographs of yesteryear, we realise the importance of the blackened buildings: undisputed evidence of the town’s prosperity during the days of plenty, when unemployment was a word seldom used by the people of Jarrow, courtesy of the Palmer shipbuilding empire which, in its heyday, employed no less than 10,000 men, women and boys, and for 80 years was the backbone and lifeblood of the town. It is many years since Palmers’ gates finally closed, but with two million tons of shipping behind it, Jarrow is still a proud town and will enjoy a strong sense of achievement for a long time to come.

After fulfilling an ambition to become a commercial photographer in 1966, eight old photographs of the town found their way to the studio I operated from in the town centre. These simple picture postcards brought back fond memories of the display I saw as a young boy of nine. How many more of these little gems might there be hidden in shoe boxes in attics? This fascination was to get the better of me. In 1967 I started seriously collecting photographs of my hometown, with a view to staging an exhibition. After a four year search I had managed to locate a further 75 pictures. Encouraged by this, I was able to stage a small exhibition in 1971, much to the delight of the townsfolk. A turning point came the same year when it was my good fortune to secure  a collection of photographs from mushroom farmer and local historian James Hunter Carr. Hunter Carr recorded the changing face of the town with a simple camera during the 1940s and 50s.

This was to swell my growing collection to in excess of 1000 images. The subsequent years surpassed all expectations, and to date I have managed to amass some 17,000 photographs of the town and neighbouring Hebburn. This inspired me to write a number of books chronicling the history of the town, all of which are lavishly illustrated with photographs from my collection.

It gives me great pleasure to share some of these images with you, and hopefully bring back happy memories to anyone who is familiar with the town.

Around Town
  • Miners white cottages
  • Viking Centre
  • Cemetery Gates
  • Back Albion Street
  • Newmarch Street
  • Clayton Street
  • Monkton
  • Hibernian Road

Photos of Paul Perry courtesy of The Shields Gazette, Johnston Publishing Ltd