History – People

Kirkup family bicycling

Kirkup family bicycling

Photograph sent by Mr. Frank Davey from Canada. He writes: “This photograph is of the Kirkup family bicycling near Hamsterley sometime in the 1890s. That’s the father, Thomas Dowson Kirkup (who was born in Hamsterley in 1844 and operated the Cross Keys for some years in this period) on the far left, and his (future?) sons-in-law, James and Tom Cranston of South Bedburn, on the far right. I can’t specifically identify any of the others.

“This is an interesting transitional period. The Kirkups had been a farming family in the Hamsterley area at least since 1750. But Thomas Dowson Kirkup would spend much of his time in Sunderland where he operated a brewery. His son John (Jack) left to manage a tea plantation in Darjeeling before returning to operate the Cross Keys, possibly as late as 1950. Jack and his wife (Mary Spence, also from Hamsterley) lived in Rose Cottage in the 1950s — which is now a tourist house, as you probably know. Another son, Sim, became a ship’s engineer and sent my grandmother — his youngest sister — postcards from places like Vladivostock. My grandmother trained as a telegrapher. She and her husband emigrated to Vancouver in 1913, and her sister Catherine emigrated, as I mentioned above, to Calgary.”

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