Family reunited with lost treasure trove of photos

SNAP! ... Alan Smith and sister Margaret McKay reunited with their precious family mementoes.
SNAP! ... Alan Smith and sister Margaret McKay reunited with their precious family mementoes.

A GRATEFUL South Tyneside family are delighted their photo album has doubled in size – thanks to the Gazette.

On Wednesday, we reported how a treasure trove of pictures had been found by workmen carrying out Decent Homes renovation work at a house in Hedworth Avenue, in Simonside, South Shields.

The stash of pictures.

The stash of pictures.

An appeal went out to find who the snaps – some of which went back to the 1940s – belonged to.

And the Smith family soon got in touch with us to say the pictures were some of the only surviving images left of their deceased relatives.

Alan Smith, 58, from Prince Edward Road, Marsden, South Shields, said: “We are so grateful to the person who handed these in, they could have so easily been thrown away.

“We don’t have many old pictures left of the family, probably about 20, so our family album has almost doubled in size. It’s wonderful.”

Alan’s daughter Joanne Cuniff, 33, used to live at the property in Hedworth Avenue between 2006 to 2012.

It’s thought when the mum-of five moved to her new home in Whiteleas, South Shields, they must have got left behind.

She said: “We checked the loft and everything before we moved out, but there had been workmen up there putting down new loft insulation during the time we lived there.

“So perhaps they’ve just ended up getting covered over.”

Alan – who has siblings Margaret McKay, 60, from Baring Street, Diane Elsy, 56, of Stanhope Road, Mary Jerry, 54, of Mowbray Villas, all South Shields, Ronnie Smith, 55, of Cardiff, and Olive Smith, 40, of Gateshead – is also thrilled because the pictures show their parents.

Dad Ronnie Smith died in 1987, aged 55, and mum Mary in 2000 aged 72.

Their eldest daughter Margaret said: “The pictures show Diane’s wedding, there’s also snaps of our mam’s brother Michael Alan, who was in the Navy and emigrated to Australia last year.

“The picture of the baby must have been our aunt Alice, who was born in the early 1940s.

“She sadly died when she was just a few months old, I think.”

However, the glamorous black and white picture of a lady, which had the name ‘Shirley Gordon’ on the back wasn’t a relative.

A laughing Margaret added: “If you look closely you can see it says ‘To Mrs Alan’.

“That was our grandmother, Lily Alan, and she died in 1969.

“If I remember rightly the woman in the picture was a singer and she’d been a turn on at the Cleadon Club, so she must have given our grandmother her picture and autograph.”

The family are now planning on getting more copies of the pictures made so they can share them.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvez