THOMAS M. M. HEMY (1852-1937) - PAGE 41


Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

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I sincerely thank Brian Wharmby of Leicestershire, U.K., for providing the fine work that appears on site page 40 & also for the second work which is presented on this page. Both are sepia etchings of the River Wear in Sunderland, & both are 50 cm x 35 cm in size.

Only one of the two Wharmby works is titled, specifically the image on this page. It is entitled 'Old Sunderland' & is marked 'From a Painting by Tom M Hemy and Etched by the Artist', as indeed you can see below. It was published by Hills and Co, Printsellers, of Sunderland, on November 1, 1888. The work has not been removed from its frame, so it is possible that more data is recorded on the rear of the print. Brian acquired both prints at a Newcastle upon Tyne auction in May 1974. Both were, I understand, framed by J. Burnham, Gilder and Picture Frame Maker, of 1 Derwent Street, Stockton Road, Sunderland.


Thomas M. Hemy Etching entitled 'Old Sunderland'

Title of Thomas M. Hemy Etching entitled 'Old Sunderland'

Now a work similar to the above is located in the Tyne and Wear Museums - indeed the image can be seen and enlarged in sections here at the Tyne and Wear Museums' Collection On Line. It may well be the original work depicted in the above print, because it is entitled also 'Old Sunderland' and while not identical is most similar. It would be good to be able to show the Museum painting on this page in full size. I do show, however, the large thumbnail of it which appears on the Museum site. And trust that the use of that thumbnail image on this non-profit & informational site is in order.

The original work in the Tyne and Wear Museum is very large indeed. And most impressive. Almost 8 ft wide in fact. Far more impressive than I can impart via this page. These are the words with which the Museum described their work, which is an oil on canvas of 232.7 cm by 154.0 cm (about 92 x 61 inches):

A most similar Thomas Hemy painting in the Tyne and Wear Museums

'The busy River Wear at Ettrick's Quay, Sunderland is pictured in this scene. Huge anchors with their chains lie in heaps on the quay, and the keel (barge) at the front of the picture is also filled with anchors. Smoking chimneys add a haze to the subdued evening light. The area shown here was cleared in 1932 for the construction of Corporation Quay. Thomas Hemy lived in Sunderland for some years, before moving to London in about 1885. This is one of his most important pictures.'

Now Ettrick's Quay was, Andy Dennis advised having consulted an early map, at the mouth of the river. Where the looming building is at left in the painting would seem to have been the Custom House, on 'Custom House Quay' in 1897 (and Corporation Quay today). So the painting must be of the 1888 view from the south bank looking inland & westward (maybe south westward considering the course of the river there). The two chimneys in the background of the image are from a brewery, I understand. But we are not yet sure which brewery it was. It probably was of 'Sunderland or Robertson's Brewery' however. Does anyone know for sure?

The two works are different, witness the angles of the ships' masts at the right edge of the images. So is the painting in the Museum truly the original? The webmaster does not pretend to be an expert on such matters, but suspects that it IS indeed the original.

Such an etching would not have been produced by a mechanical process. Lines in an etching are eaten into the plate by the action of an acid rather than being gouged into the plate with a tool. One can imagine the artist working in his studio on the etching plate & looking up constantly to the original painting perhaps sitting on an easel beside him. He would look at the painting & incise the wax coating or ground on the plate. And look again & incise again. When sufficiently advanced, the plate would be submerged in an acid bath & the acid would eat into the metal plate where the wax had been removed. Lines cut as deeply as required would be coated with stopping-out varnish, & the process would be repeated to incise other areas or more deeply incise existing lines to the depth thought desirable. There would have been multiple dippings of the plate into the acid as the etching advanced to finality. And then there would be multiple proofs, with the plate being cleaned, ink applied & an impression taken. And the plate recoated & incised again. A lengthy process I suspect & truly a labour of love. Who is to say that when Thomas Hemy worked on the area with the ships' masts at the extreme right of the image, he did not think that the masts looked better at an angle. And changed that detail.

There are many WWW sites which define what an 'etching' is, & should you have an interest in pursuing that matter you should best read them all. The word is applied, I read, to both the image etched onto the plate & to an impression from the plate. I was interested to read, but only in the Wikipedia description, that 'the process is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer (circa 1470 - 1536) of Augsburg, Germany, who decorated armour in this way, and applied the method to printmaking.' To me that sounds rather suspect. I would truly be surprised if an armourer skilled in the forge would himself apply that process to the most different discipline of printmaking. But if he didn't, certainly others did.

We sincerely thank Brian Wharmby for images of both of his etchings, i.e. the one on this page & also the one on page 40. If YOU could add more information, do please contact the webmaster.


The webmaster hopes that in the near future more material can be presented on this page & site of early industrial Sunderland. The contrast between what the River Wear looked like through to the mid 20th century, & what it looks like today is truly astonishing. The past - the docks & warehouses, the shipping, the dingy plants, the coal loading facilities & their railway lines, the shipbuilding yards, the glass works, the rope factories, the dirt, the grime, etc. etc. are all long gone, & only through old photographs & the work of artists such as Thomas Hemy can one envisage what it once looked like. Is it important to know? I think it is else I would not provide this page. And perhaps you also may think it is important since you have found your way to this very page.

The few Sunderland scenes that the webmaster has so far seen are reminiscent of the sights of the east end of London of the mid-fifties & of the then dirty Thames river & its industrial bleakness. I recall as a young man the dock area of east London & the dingy rows of slum houses stretching into the distance in every direction, every one of them belching smoke from its chimney stack (just maybe burning coal that came from Sunderland!). There has indeed been giant progress. But that does not mean we should forget the past.

So bear with me as data re Sunderland is located by the webmaster. But the webmaster is not a researcher. He lives far away in Canada & has no access to local image archives or museums. So if you, a visitor to this page, can provide material, it would be most welcome. And would help advance, I believe, a page or pages that deserve to be written.

My inclination is that over time, this page or maybe in time many pages, will evolve into sections specifically directed a) to the shipbuilding history of Sunderland b) to the coal mining industry of the Sunderland area and c) to other areas of activity. But that is all in the future as this was first written.

Before advancing to the images which follow, I should advise you of a WWW site that features 400 or so postcard images of Sunderland, the postcard collection, I learn, of former Sunderland Fire Officer Tom Marshall. That collection can be seen here on the site of James Bryce (of the Southwick History And Preservation Society), whose front door is here. Do drop by!

The sources of the images which follow? Just eleven images at this moment. I present the best versions of the images I can today. If you have a better image of any item, do please consider providing it to the webmaster for inclusion here.

Hold your mouse over each image item to see the image number coding. The images will surely, with time, not end up numerically sequential. As re-sequencing is required.

Items 1), 2) and 12) are from expired e-Bay items. Item 2 may be a postcard 'by GD & DL as part of their Star Series.'
Item 3) is from this site where usage for educational purposes was permitted. I say was because I cannot find the image there any more. The image itself would seem to date from 1897 (that site said 1900). The original photographer's name? Don't know. The image was republished in the 1970s by 'Pamlin' of Croydon in the form of a postcard which postcard refers to the beached vessel being the 'Lady Katherine'. But are there not two beached vessels in the image? Perhaps the vessel at centre is the 'Lady Katherine'. I somewhat darkened the pale image which is available on that page for a slightly better presentation here, & resized it. And I added it in a larger size, scanned from an actual postcard, though I can see the result has less detail than the smaller image.
Item 4) is from an expired e-Bay item which did not sell. Should you have an interest in acquiring the postcard, perhaps you might contact the e-Bay vendor via that link to request re-listing.
Item 5) I don't know today. I found it somewhere on the WWW, most probably on e-Bay, but I do not know where exactly.
Item 6) An image by C. J. Kenyon dating from 1966. It appears low on this interesting railway history page about the Lambton Railway & appeared originally in the Mar. 1991 issue, # 124, of the 'Industrial Railway Record'. Should C. J. Kenyon or 'The Industrial Railway Record' prefer that the image be removed from this page, I will of course, do so. You can obtain a copy of that issue at the address at the foot of that linked page. I lightened the image somewhat for use on this page. It was quite dark in the original.
Item 7) is from an expired 'Delcampe' item. A postcard that dates I believe from 1966, since it was postmarked 'World Cup Sunderland Jul 13 - 23'. The postmarked date was not perfectly clear but I believe read 1966, when 3 preliminary World Cup matches were in fact played in Roker Park, Sunderland. A couple of copies of it were available on e-Bay in Sep. 2006.
Item 8) An image by Peter Proud dating from Oct. 1966. It appears here, in full size, on the fine site of the Lambton Locomotives Trust Limited - a group of enthusiasts whose purpose is to ensure that the Lambton locomotives are preserved in perpetuity - a great purpose indeed!
Item 9) is from a 'Valentine's Series' postcard entitled 'River-View, Sunderland.', which postcard sold on e-Bay in early Oct. 2006 for GBP 2.99 or approximately U.S. $5.99. I say 'from' because I was not pleased with my earlier efforts in resizing the card for presentation on this page. And, since the prime purpose is to show early images here, I have now essentially used only the image portion of the card, after removing some black marks. The postcard, as it was listed, can be seen here. A beautiful card, indeed.
Item 10) is from an e-Bay item that sold in early Oct. 2006 for GBP 0.99, approximately U.S. $1.85. Most similar to image # 4 beside it, but showing the south side of the river better.
Item 11) is from an e-Bay item that sold in mid Oct. 2006 for GBP 4.99, or approximately U.S. $5.65. Stated to be a page of 8.25 x 10.5 inches from 'The World: its Cities and Peoples, edited by W. W. Birdsall' Dating from 1892. Entitled 'Looking up the river, Sunderland.' Most similar to the item a row or so below it today. Except for the coal hopper cars, all of which are horse drawn.
Item 13) is image # 9 in a number of images provided by the BBC available here. We thank the photographer whose name, however, seems not to be stated.
Item 14) is from an e-Bay item that sold in early Dec. 2006 for GBP 7.52, approximately U.S. $14.73. Of the Toll House of the 1796 Iron Bridge photographed in 1870. Taken in the evening or early morning (length of shadows) & maybe on the north bank looking east?

1870 / 1890

14) 'Old Toll House, Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland 1870 - a 'Flintoff's' postcard - Toll Booth of the 1796 Iron Bridge. How amazing! I cleaned up the image a bit and sharpened it for better presentation here.

1890 / 1900

11) River Wear at Sunderland. Looking west from the railway bridge. A print dating from 1892.
4) River Wear at Sunderland. Looking east from the road bridge. Date unknown. Stated to be the photo of W. Coates of Sunderland 10) River Wear at Sunderland. Looking east from the road bridge. This card better shows the south bank at right.
3) View westward, I believe, from the Sunderland Railway Bridge c. 1900 or perhaps 1897.
3) View westward, I believe, from the Sunderland Railway Bridge c. 1900 or perhaps 1897.

1900 / 1910

9) 'River View, Sunderland' in a postcard mailed September 30, 1902.

1910 / 1920

1) Sunderland Bridges - postcard image from 1910. Taken from the west. 2) Sunderland Bridges. Postcard image from 1913. Taken from the west.


7) The bridges from the south bank of the river on the eastern side. A 1966 postcard. See text.
5) View of the Lambton drops looking eastwards to the bridges from the west. Date unknown. 6) View of the Lambton drops. A 1966 image. 'Lambton Staithes on the River Wear in Sunderland in July 1966, the 
destination of most Lambton coal, with the Hetton Railway staithes beyond. (C. J. Kenyon)
12) View of the Lambton drops looking eastwards to the bridges from the west. Date unknown. 8) Locomotives # 37 & # 31 at Sunderland Lambton Staithes loco shed. October 1966 photograph by Peter Proud.


13) Bicentenary sign re 1796 bridge


As I add this next item and image, I must confess that I am not 100% sure that it should even be on this page. I think it IS a neat image and I think that it relates to the City of Sunderland though perhaps distantly. But I like it. And I hope that you do also.

In searching for items re 'Sunderland' there are lots of references to the 'Sunderland' or 'Short Sunderland'. Related to the flying boat of that name. The word 'Short' does not relate to the aircraft's size but rather to 'Short Brothers', a pioneer British aircraft manufacturer with major experience in marine aircraft design. The company would seem to have been then based at Rochester, on the River Medway, in Kent, about 30 miles east of London. With the name of 'Short Bros (Rochester & Bedford) Ltd.' But in the pages I have checked, quite a lot of them in fact, and at my library, I can see no reference as to why the aircraft came to be named the 'Sunderland'. There would seem to be an association with the city, however. Since there was a shipbuilding company in Sunderland of the very same name and probably of common ownership.

Can anybody tell us, definitively, whether the two businesses were in fact related and why the aircraft was called the 'Sunderland'?

Should you be interested there are a great many WWW pages about the aircraft, and a great many books, and a great many photographs, as is befitting such a brilliant and successful aircraft. A search via Google or on e-Bay, or a visit to your local library, will produce a wealth of information.

My conclusions may prove to be quite wrong. But the image that follows is most attractive. It is from a 1940's poster, sold on e-Bay in Sep. 2006 for just U.S. $0.99 - a 15 x 20 inch print by artist P. E. Davies. A bargain indeed for the purchaser, it would seem, since the poster is  also available, on the date this page is amended, at U.S. $200. But the print is available with some frequency via e-Bay.

A dramatic 1940s poster of the 'Short Sunderland' on patrol by artist P. E. Davies'


A listing of items that would, if available, add to my presently limited body of knowledge of Sunderland. I do not really want the following, per se. Just to read them in order to see whatever new data that they might prove to contain. If you could help in any way, drop me a line.

1 'Where ships are born: Sunderland 1346-1946 ; a history of shipbuilding on the River Wear' by J. W. Smith and T. S. Holden.

Was originally published (Thomas Reed & Co. Ltd.) 97 pages, in 1946 or 1947. But would seem to have been republished 1953 (also Thomas Reed) with 191 pages. But an edition seems also listed (Treed & Co.) of 160 pages only and an edition published privately.

2 'Bridges of the River Wear' by Keith Cockerill.

128 pages illustrated. Published 2005 in the 'People's History Series'.

3 'A Wearside Mining Story, including an account of the sinking of Wearmouth Pit, Co. Durham, and the birth of the Durham Miners' Association at that Colliery' by John Elliot McCutcheon.

Published in 1960 by the author at 2, Ambleside Avenue, Seaham, Co. Durham. 101 pages with over 30 photographs.

4 'Sunderland - A River of Life'. By Jack Curtis.

96 pages illustrated. Published 2003 in the 'People's History Series'.

5 'Sacrifice , Achievement , Gratitude (Images of The Great Northern Coalfield in Decline)' by Aidan Doyle.

116 pages illustrated. Published 1997. Publisher name presently unknown.

6 'Adventures in Coal'. The beginnings of the coal mining firm of Henry Briggs, Son & Co. in Yorkshire c. 1826 to 1890. By John Goodchild.

96 pages. A monograph of 'Northern Mine Research Society', published August 2000. British Mining No. 66.

7 'Railways in England, 1826 & 1827' - by C. von Oeynhauser & H. von Dechen.

98 pages illustrated. Observations collected, I read, during a study of the railways at Darlington, Sunderland, Liverpool/Manchester, Bolton-le-Moors/Leigh, etc.  Published by the Newcomen Society by W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. of Cambridge.

8 'Port of Sunderland 1950'.

120 pages, illustrated with photographs and maps. Published by the Port of Sunderland, it would seem.

Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05.

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