Two ‚€˜Young‚€™ Families in South Shields: Shipping & Pilots - Research/Meadowcroft

This was piece was written for the Newsletter of the South Shields Local History Group (October 2023)

When I viewed the article below in Janis Blower‚€™s column in August 1989, about James Young entitled ‚€˜Master of Shipping‚€™ (1805-1888) I immediately thought that he must be an ancestor of my grandfather Alfred Ernest Young (1878-1961), the dropped right eyelid was a feature shared, my great grandfather. I contacted Janis and she provided me with a synopsis of the background of James‚€™s life as a substantive shipping owner living in Ogle Terrace. However, with limited resources and limited time available for research I thought that I would investigate in future years whether there was a connection to my ‚€˜Young‚€™ pilot heritage dating back to about 1620 and this shipping magnate.

Years Before and After

Retiring from my career in education in 2005, I started investigating the demise of St Hilda‚€™s Churchyard applying the research methods required for my master‚€™s degree as well as that of managing several nationally funded educational research projects. Anne Sharp subsequently gave me the opportunity, indeed a privilege to be a volunteer in the Local Studies Department which she managed at the former library. As James our editor wrote in the September newsletter, it was an enquirer from the south of England in about 2012 to the old Central Library regarding James Young of Meadowcroft and subsequently documents from the Hampshire Archives that prompted me to pursue my interest of 1989 and to determine if there was a possible blood-line link between the two ‚€˜Young‚€™ families.

The opportunities afforded to me by South Shields libraries were pivotal to my education and historical research and continue to be so. Looking for an area to research for my college dissertation in in 1967, I recall meeting Rosemary Farrell, the Senior Librarian in the daunting local studies department at the library (now the museum) with my Mum, who was a friend of hers. When I was of junior school age, I loved to hear stories about the family links to the Tyne Pilots from my grandfather Alfred Ernest Young (1878-1961) and this was the area I had planned to research. Miss Farrell said that this had already been covered showing me a dissertation written by Ken Bond (headmaster) and suggested that I should instead write about the organization the Mechanic‚€™s Institute which had raised the funds to build the very building where we were meeting. What a fantastic opportunity this proved to be.

Many hours were spent in the reference room during breaks from college searching through the original editions of the Shields Gazettes bound in heavy legers looking for reports, articles etc. Countless notebooks with my sister Lynda eventually typing my hand-written dissertation; the master copy was some-time later, bound by the library as the 'South Shields Literary, Scientific & Mechanical Institution (1825-1873)' (1969)

The supposed great and the good of the town during the mid to late 19th Century became familiar to me profiling most of them in more recent times. This is for example where my interest in Russell Bowlby (see website &; previous editions of this newsletter). I can still envisage when I climb the stairs at the museum grand soirees with beautifully dressed women parading down the stairs with speakers such as the Astronomer Royal, addressing members in the grand hall.

Alfred Ernest Young (1878-1961)

Alfred was orphaned on Christmas Day 1884 when his mother, Sarah (Pollard) Young (1847-1884) died of phthisis (tuberculosis), his father Thomas Young (1844-1881) having pre-deceased her drowning on the Herd Sands in his pilot boat ‚€˜Pilots‚€™ during an incredibly stormy night on the 14th October. He was in fact declared dead in the Lifeguard Station on the pier.

After the death of their mother, Alfred and his younger brother Thomas lived with a distant uncaring relative in Livingstone Street who was paid for their care by their guardians, maternal grandfather James Caddle Pollard (1824-1894) of 20 Baring Street and Henry Young (1811-1897) paternal grandfather a retired Tyne Pilot Master of Pearson Street. Their older siblings, Sarah Pollard (Young) Lawson (1871-1898), Henry Young (1874-1960) and Ann Evans (Young) Emmett (1876-1861) were educated in London funded through bursaries.

My grandfather recalled visiting both his grandfathers on a Sunday morning after attending St Aidan‚€™s Church. They were both besuited and the neglect they endured was concealed. Presumably, both boys did not divulge the truth of their unhappy lives. Thomas had a bedwetting problem (he was orphaned at aged three years) and so every time there was an incident, he had to sit in the kitchen sink filled with cold water. Needless child cruelty. Sadly, Thomas Young, died like his mother and older sister, Sarah also died of phthisis.

At the age of fourteen, Alfred was given the option to work in any of his Pollard uncles‚€™ businesses in South Shields: George Pollard (1849-1909) builder; John Crowell Pollard (1859-1906) China Dealer; Henry Pollard (1861-1914), Stationer; Charles Edward Pollard (1862-1943) Mariner & pleasure boat owner.

James William Pollard (1856-1906) glazier, paint-manufacturer. It was at the J. W. Pollard‚€™s shop in Ocean Road that my grandfather started working in 1892 eventually purchasing the business in the early 1920s. I recall visiting the shop when I was aged about aged about five with a lingering smell of paint and sawdust.

Back to Meadowcroft, Westoe Village!
In August I was the proud purchaser of a painting of a partial perspective of the house by Sheila Graber, the wonderful artist (she had taught me at South Shields Grammar Technical school for girls - not successfully!). When she delivered the painting to me, we talked of Meadowcroft and I agreed to forward my research to her, hence my revised interest in the writing of six years earlier on my website.


I had concluded following my research of 2013 into James Young of Meadowcroft (where he in fact never lived) in 2013, the uncle of James Young the ‚€˜Master of Shipping‚€™ that there was no connection to my ‚€˜Young‚€™ pilot heritage. The latter dated back to about 1620 whilst the other ‚€˜Young‚€™ family originated in Tanfield in County Durham settling in South Shields in 1772.