Rare postcards of ship fire to go up for auction

A postcard of the famous fire on the TTS Wellesley training ship which is among those up for auction.
A postcard of the famous fire on the TTS Wellesley training ship which is among those up for auction.

Rare postcards featuring a fire on board a training ship are to go under the hammer.

The 100-year-old postcards feature the famous fire on the TTS Wellesley ship in North Shields in 1914.

We had no use for them and I was just going to throw them out but my wife stopped me

Keith Durrant

They are among a collection, also featuring a huge Suffragette rally, up for auction at Anderson & Garland Town and County Sale on May 6.

But the cards were nearly thrown out after Keith Durrant found them while clearing out his late aunt’s house in North Shields.

He said: “We had no use for them and I was just going to throw them out but my wife stopped me.

“These postcards belonged to my aunt’s father. He was an avid collector of postcards, and he was a keen photographer so he may have taken the pictures of the ship fire.”

The ship, which was part of the nautical training school preparing boys for life in the Royal and Merchant Navies, was destroyed by the fire in March 1914.

All the boys were evacuated safely and the school was moved ashore to Tynemouth and later Blyth, where it remained until it closed for good in 2006.

The Suffragette rally card is also a scene from the banks of the Tyne, entitled Sunday Morning, Newcastle upon Tyne. It too is believed to date from circa 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War.

Anderson & Garland auctioneer, Fred Wyrley-Birch, said: “I have never come across a Suffragette postcard from the north east, let alone one on the Tyne, which was really packed for that rally. You can see lots of figures stationed on the Quayside campaigning for votes for women.

“A lot of people collect topical postcards and many specialise; there will be people who only collect Suffragette postcards or shipping postcards – or even just TTS Wellesley cards. We are expecting a lot of interest from the collectors’ market.”

The Anderson & Garland fortnightly Town and County sales bring together collectibles from across the North East and the Scottish Borders. For more information, please visit www.andersonandgarland.com.