South Shields Local History Group

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Carr, Jane Elizabeth (Dialect Writer)

Jane Elizabeth Carr was born in 1884. She attended Holy Trinity Church School from the age of 3. She was 14 when she became a pupil teacher and she taught at Holy Trinity until the late 1940s. During her years as a teacher she recorded on scraps of paper the words, stories and sayings of South Shields bairns and their parents. In 1961, in her 77th year, she wrote them down in a series of exercise books.

Jane Carr’s two main contributions to the History of South Shields are her history of Holy Trinity Church School, but her main reason for inclusion is as a recorder of the the words, sayings and humour of South Shields children and their parents. As Jane herself poignantly said:

“The collection began in the reign of Queen Victoria; when many children were admitted to school, knowing Tyneside dialect, better than they knew English. It is a pity that provincialism is so frowned upon to-day. The men who spoke it, made the river Tyne famous in England and abroad, for ship – building, repairing, coalmining etc. It was the hall mark of our skilful manual workers. Be proud of being offspring’s of such worthy ancestors.  Men of courage, toughness and intelligence, who made the Tyne known throughout the world. Yes! Wherever you go; you’ll meet a Geordie.”

Many of these words and phrases she recorded are now no longer used in South Shields as the use of dialect diminishes. Fortunately Jane recorded some of the dialect used in Queen Victoria’s time. The dialect writer Dorfy later made a similar contribution.

Geordie Humour

Geordie Sayings

Geordie Words

History of Holy Trinity Church School

My Grandmother – by Patricia Rigg, Jane’s Granddaughter

Jane Elizabeth Carr was born in South Shields, on Wednesday, December 10th, 1884.  Her parents were William and Elizabeth Summerbell (nee Gummer).  Nana had a brother, John, who lost his life, aged 39, in 1918, the last year of the Great War.  Her older sister, Selina and her husband, Jack Barras, had 6 children.  Sadly, Selina died in 1900, just 33 years old.

Nana met her future husband, James Leiper Carr, at Holy Trinity Church.  He was a sea-farer and much of their courtship was by postcard, with loving messages sent by Jim from all over the world. 

They were married on Saturday, July 15th, 1911, at Holy Trinity Church and had two children, Jeanne, my mother, and Roy, father of my cousins, Margaret and Jeanne.

Jim was Chief Engineer on the SS Holgate when, on Tuesday, March 27th, 1917, his ship was sunk by U-boat 57 (Kapitan Carl-Siegfried Ritter von Georg), off the southwestern coast of Ireland. The Master of the SS Holgate was taken prisoner and the crew left to drown. They were rescued by a ship of the Royal Navy.  Jim’s health was never the same again and he died, at home, on Thursday, March 15th, 1923.  He was 36 years old.  Nana’s hair turned white overnight.  Jim was the love of her life and she never got over his loss.

When she married Jim in 1911, Nana had to leave the job she loved.  “In those days,” she said, “you could not have your cake and eat it.”  With a young family to support, she returned to Holy Trinity Church Schools and to teaching the children she loved, until her retirement in October, 1949.

She often told her granddaughters stories of her life, of school, marriage and family, of love and loss and a past long gone.  Especially etched in my memory are her tales of my great-great- grandparents, Nana’s grandparents.  Stories of glass-making in the north east, Huguenots, sea-farers, sailing-ships, shipwrecks, press-gangs on the Tyne and even cannibals!

Some of those stories are now reaching a wider readership and I think Nana would be astounded.

Patricia Rigg

Jane Elizabeth Carr
Jeanne Bennett (Granddaughter)
Patricia Rigg (Granddaughter)
Terry Ford

Patricia Rigg

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