Friday, 11 February 2011

Sunderland Under Sail

Sunderland Under Sail is a series of 5 booklets published by Sunderland Antiquarian Society. It is a transcription of a series of newspaper articles published in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle from 1881 to 1889 featuring the reminiscences of Bracey Robson Wilson (writing under the pseudonym "Robinson Crusoe"), a sailor who was born in Sunderland in 1812 and grew up there. The books give a lot of background information about life in Sunderland in the 1820s and also contain many details of the inhabitants of Sunderland at that time.

Wilson wrote the following about Richard Hudson.

The easternmost house on the south side of the same square [Akenhead's Square] was a tavern kept by Richard Hudson, running fitter, better known as Dick Hudson. He was a famous swimmer, and was about 64 years ago, appointed Harbour Master and captain of one of the lifeboats. He then removed to the Town End, opposite the Pottery Gate, where he kept the Lifeboat Tavern. The sign was a very large one, and represented a lifeboat going through a fearful sea to a wreck, Richard Hudson steering with an oar, and a man standing in the bow with a boathook in his hand. This sign was painted by Jefferson, who was once a scene-painter in the Sunderland Theatre. From this place Richard Hudson moved to the Ferry Boat Landing, where he died about sixty years ago, and was succeeded by Tommy Davidson as Harbour Master.

(Vol III, page 28)

Wilson also described the work of the running fitters:

The running fitter has now [1881] nearly passed away but sixty years ago we had [a long list of names], whose business it was to manage the keels belonging to the coalfitters. They also placed the vessels in their loading berths, and piloted them to sea.


(Vol II, page 14)

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