The Seaton Village Fathers. Hartlepool, Durham, England
Nicknamed ''The Seaton Village Fathers'', the men in this image are standing talking in a group outside a shop licenced to sell ale, port and tobacco. In the doorway, a man is standing watching them with his dog. ..Photograph Collection Number 674
This set holds a group of images taken by the Reverend James Whitehead Pattinson during the latter years of the 19th Century, in and around the Hartlepool and Bishop Auckland areas. Many show simple street scenes, or views from the beach at Seaton Carew, while others record the town's diverse range of inhabitants and characters. Indeed, often picturing the poorer, even illiterate members of society, Pattison's images enable us to gain a rare insight into the lives of Hartlepool's working classes, whom history has often overlooked. Ordained in 1882, Pattison was posted to the Holy Trinity Church in Seaton Carew in 1885 in order to help its rector, the Reverend John Lawson, during his twilight years. Here, in 1887, he took up the hobby of photography and began to record the everyday lives of the townsfolk. A father of two, he appears to be a kind and generous man who was especially good with children, whom he even taught to use his camera and photographic equipment. Yet, despite the important contribution he made to the town's history, Pattison left Hartlepool for Portack Lane in Stockton after only five years in 1890, going on to become a popular Rector at St John's Chapel near Bishop Auckland. Continuing his hobby for the rest of his life, Pattison's images were finally recognised when, after his death in 1936, his daughter Catherine donated a selection of images to the Bowes Museum, including many dating back to the three years he spent beginning his hobby in Hartlepool. Today, collections of work can be found in museums and art galleries across the region, where the work of this talented photographer is valued by historians, admirers and enthusiasts alike. The creation of the Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service was mainly down to one man: William Cresswell Gray, who was a member of a family of shipbuilders who played an important part in the history of Hartlepool. He left the original museum building to the town in 1920 in thanks for the safe return of his son from the First World War. The building was named the Gray Art Gallery and Museum in his honour. Since the museum opened an important and diverse collection of objects that reflect the history of Hartlepool have become part of the museum collection. This collection includes objects of archaeology; natural history; costume; fine and decorative art; social history; world cultures; coins and medals. The museum service continues to collect today looking to fill gaps in its existing collection and represent the more recent history of the town since the amalgamation of the two Hartlepool Boroughs in 1967.