In 1975, my dad, Davy Cram, told me that he had been over to North Shields, with his friend, Alfie Hawkins, fishing out at sea in the boat they owned. While there, they decided to call into the Corvette, public house, which was run by dad’s great-Aunt, Sarah Fenwick (his grandmother's half-sister). He told me that previously, Sarah, had run a pub named the Robin Hood, which used to be nearby, on the same large plot of land:
Sally Fenwick (nee Neil) 1893-1976.
A few years ago, my wife and I, while in the area, decided to visited North Shields Archive, to see if there was any information about Jim and Sarah Fenwick’s pub - the Corvette, in North Shields. The archive was empty except for the archivist and an old man, sitting relaxed at a desk across from each other, in deep conversation. As we approached them the archivist looked up and asked if he could help, so I asked if he had any information on the Corvette… he told me that he’d look, and went away into the back room.
The jovial old man that had been talking with the archivist began talking to us; he said that he knew the long-gone Corvette, very well, and even the Robin Hood pub that used to be on the site, before it, run by the same family. I told him that the lady who ran it, was my dad's great Aunt, and that, in later years, her son ran it with her. The old man told us that the son was called Jim - I told him that was correct. He also told us that Jim's wife had died, and that he then moved to Seaton Delaval. He gave out an affectionate, gummy laugh (no teeth), as told us the following story:
“Jim had a Dalmatian dog, which sat in the pub. One day a drunken man started becoming aggressive to Jim, so Jim told him to leave, or the dog would make him leave. The man became more aggressive, saying, ‘What's the dog going to do, like?’ Jim knew the man would not let up, so he slapped his hand on the counter, and the dog leapt up from the floor like an Exocet missile, and leapt at the man's chest with both paws, knocking him flying! The man picked himself up and then ran out of the pub in a great hurry. He found it really hard getting a pint in any pub in North Shields, after that, as everywhere he went, the locals would shout, ‘woof-woof!’ He became such a laughing-stock, that he usually went out of the area for a drink after that.’
The man’s story was interrupted by the door opening in the back room, as the archivist returned to join us; he handed me some photocopies of the Robin Hood, a map of the area it was located, and a piece of information from a book, which mentioned the following:
"James & Sarah Fenwick [my dad's great Aunt and Uncle], ran the Robin Hood, at 21, Beacon Street, North Shields, from 1935 to 1950. And, that Sarah Fenwick ran the Robin Hood, from 1954 to 10 January 1957. And, that Sarah Fenwick, had opened the Corvette, 11 January, 1957.”
[Sally was a public house proprietor for 41 years, from 1935 to 1976.]
We thanked the archivist for the paperwork, which he gave freely, and the old man for his lovely account of a story which we would never have known about without this fortunate stroke of serendipity. So many lovely, helpful people in the world.
Description of attached Robin Hood Inn picture:
Bird Street, North Shields, 2 0ctober 1941. The bomb killed a policeman behind the blast-wall at the corner of Beacon Street, but the Robin Hood Inn survived until 1957. It was demolished when the Corvette public house was completed.
Pictures Courtesy: North Shields Library: Corvette, Beacon Street. MG.NT/15/81 C1903-1974. 1 Bundle.
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