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