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ALAN CHARLTON,  a researcher with Seaham Family History Group, has carried out an extensive  research  into local newspapers from 1858 onwards.

As a result of his work, editions of THE NORTH EASTERN NEWS , THE SEAHAM OBSERVER and THE SEAHAM WEEKLY NEWS are available to group members.    

The editions can be accessed  via a number of CD's and memory sticks which are held by the group at Seaham Library and can be viewed during one of the group meetings.

The front page of each newspaper edition (where available) has been  uploaded and can be  maximised to enable each article to be easily read. 

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This page gives you some idea of the wealth of material to which you will have access via the the newspaper archive  collection

The War Years - in print!

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"Act like the brave men you are, and Durham will nobly respond to the Nation's call to duty."

On Friday August 4th, 1914  Britain declared war on Germany.  

The Seaham Weekly News printed the official notification in its next edition on Friday 7th.

Although very familiar to us today, the poster shown here was not the one used but you can click on the links below to read the stirring words of Lord Kitchener's appeal to the 'Men of Durham" and Seaham events in the first few days of the war.

"100,000 Men are immediately required;  I appeal to you with the utmost confidence to uphold the old traditions of the County and the glorious records of our Faithful Durhams by showing in the present grave emergency that our patriotism impels us to make every sacrifice and every personal effort in defence of the honour of our Empire"

"Let Durham not lag behind."

The Marquis of Londonderry immediately placed Seaham Hall at the disposal of the authorities as did Mr and Mrs Pemberton with Daldon Tower.  Both were to be used as hospitals if so needed.  Within days 50 beds were ready for patients, the public helping with beds and bedding and the Dawdon branch of the Ryhope Co-operative Society undertaking to supply horses and trolleys for transport purposes.

Lord Kitchener's Appeal
Seaham Weekly News
Friday August 7 1914
Seaham Weekly News
Friday August 14 1914

The Comet

As soon as it became known that a state of war existed between England and Germany Customs officials impounded a German steamer in Seaham dock.  

The Comet was an ordinary collier which had been lying in South dock for several days. The officers and seamen on board were handed over by the police, as prisoners of war, to a military escort.  A large crowd watched their progress as they were marched from the dock to the railway station where they were to catch the 5.20 train for Sunderland. 

It was commented that there was no demonstation from the crowd.

At the same time the steamer Seaham Harbour of the Londonderry fleet was impounded at Hamburg.  It was under the command of Capt. T. H. Shilling of Maureen Terrace and had a crew of 22, most of whom were Seaham men.

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 The crew of The Comet and military escort in Church Street.

The unveiling of the New Seaham War Memorial  1923

In the afternoon of July 1st 1923 the war memorial to commemorate the 165 men who lost their lives in WW1 was unveiled by the Marquess of Londonderry in New Seaham Recreation grounds.

This impressive memorial stands 30ft from the ground and features lifesize figures, 5ft 9ins high, of a sailor in the Royal Navy representing the senior service and a soldier of the Durham Light Infantry representing the Army, standing with arms reversed. The airmen are commemorated by the badge of the Royal Air Force. 

The monument is surmounted by the figure of Liberty holding a torch. This statue is 8ft 6in high.

The memorial was designed, modelled, carved and executed by Messrs Ainslie and Collin, a firm composed entirely of disabled ex-servicemen. The cost was in the region of £1,300, money being raised by workmens contributions and public subscription.

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Lord Londonderry placing a wreath at the base of the war memorial

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The badge of the Royal Air Force to 

commemorate the lost airmen.


The figure of Liberty holding a torch

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New Seaham War Memorial.docx
Details of the unveiling ceremony and an account of Lord Londonderry's speech.



January 16th 1858 

The paper was published by David Atkinson and the price 1d

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JOHN WATSON of Seaham Harbour obtains a certificate of competency of the highest class  from A Baharie's Nautical School

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JOSEPH WATSON opens a new furniture shop in South Railway Street

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Lord Vane-Tempest proposes setting up a subscription for the erection of a monument to General Havelock.

Just two editions of the NORTH EASTERN NEWS from1858 have been selected here to give an example of what can be found in the collection.     The articles in each edition range from local news to world news, from business promoting adverts to humerous stories.   

By noting the way language itself was used, as well as the events being described, we can gain an insight into the world inhabited by our ancestors.


As well as looking for a particular event why not use this archive to give you a flavour of what was happening at the time of a birth, a marriage or a death in your family history.

1858 - January 16th

An amusing tale of a watch and it's 'merry' but hapless owner.

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1858 - February 27th

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This was to be the very last edition of the North-eastern News.  Following the wishes of its readers and subscribers it was renamed The Seaham Oberver in order to reflect its place of publication and identify itself more closely with the town.

Victorian Mourning Rituals

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The Victorian era from 1837 to 1901 was a time when customs and practices relating to death were enormously important.

In fact Victorian funerals were big business and catered for all sections of society.

As these adverts show, the mourning process was rigidly governed by convention. Clocks in the house were stopped at the time of death and curtains were drawn. The code for dress, especially for women was quite detailed as what was and was not appropriate activity.  

Men, because they still had to carry on the business of the day, were less bound by convention.

 Death in the lower and labouring classes was understandably less bound up with the rituals.

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Seaham's new lifeboat

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September 2nd 1870 saw the arrival of the new lifeboat to Seaham Harbour. The boat was a gift from four ladies, the Misses Carter who had selected Seaham as “a fit port to place one of the society’s (RNLI) lifeboats.”

Who were the Misses Carter?  The Seaham Observer describes them such –

 ‘The amiable ladies are residents of Harrogate, in Yorkshire, well known as a fashionable watering place.  They are greatly respected and esteemed for their good qualities, being extremely charitable and full of sympathy for their fellow creatures.  Connected with them are also four brothers, damask manufacturers, at Barnsley Yorkshire.  They are, we understand, the largest manufacturers of this material in the world.  They are also noted for their charible character, and reside at Harrogate, where they enjoy the esteem of their townspeople.  The cost of the boat has been raised by the Misses Carter over a period of thirteen months by the sale of fancy work.”

The Seaham Observer recorded the progress of this event from the initial offer of a lifeboat in March 1870 to its arrival on a carriage in a grand procession in September of that year.  

Click on each of the files to read the original article

1870 March12 - The gift of a Lifeboat
1870 August 19 - Lifeboat exhibited in Harrogate
1870 August26 - Preparations for the arrival
1870 September 2 - The Lifeboat arrives

This file is of particular interest as it describes in detail the lifeboat, the boathouse  and in particular the appearance of the town as people lined the streets with anticipation and pride to welcome the procession bringing the new lifeboat the “Sisters Carter”



Watson Town

Watson Town  was the name of a tenemented street of thirteen houses built  in 1870 for employees of   ‘Watson, Kipling and Co.’s Chemical Works'


The Chemical Works were built in 1863 and soon began trading in soda crystals and magnesia.  The company was successful and sent one shipload per week to markets in London and Ostend.  At its peak  300 men were employed many of whom lived in Watson Town. This street was situated between the Chemical Works and Blast furnaces 

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It was the intention of the company that  Iron could profitably be made at Seaham.  The hope                                        Watson Town                    was that in time they would branch out into making rails, iron bars and ship’s plates. 

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Seaham Chemical Works prior to demolition

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Chemical Beach got its name from the nearby Seaham Chemical Works

Sadly by 1885 due to national overproduction and falling prices the firm was declared bankrupt.


The Chemical Work buildings and blast furnaces  were left to deteriorate and were demolished in 1900 to make way for the sinking of Dawdon pit.  

Watson Town however survived a little longer as it was occupied by the German pit sinkers.


John Watson who retired in 1881, lived in Vane House and was a keen astronomer, being a Fellow of the Astronomical Society.

He died in 1885, the same year the firm was declared bankrupt and was the first person to be buried in Seaham's new Princess Road Cemetery

Click on the link below to read the original news aricle as it appeared in the SEAHAM OBSERVER on June 4th 1870

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Seaham Bombardment  -  July 11th 1916

At 10.20 pm on Tuesday 11th July Seaham inhabitants were startled by loud reports and flashes could be seen at sea.  Those near the coast saw a German submarine about a quarter of a mile from the harbour entrance.


 About 39 shells were fired from a 3 inch gun.  Flying high overhead, none fell in the town itself. Twenty rounds fell in the direction of Dalton-le-Dale and a dozen rounds fell in and around Seaham Colliery.

Although many of the shells landed harmlessly in nearby fields one was to prove fatal. 

One woman, Mrs. Mary Slaughter,35, of Hebburn, was staying with her cousin and the two women made their way home through the colliery yard as the shells began to drop. The cousin, Jennie Brown, was uninjured but Mary was hit by an exploding shell and was severely injured. She was treated and then taken to Sunderland Royal Infirmary where she died the next morning

The inquest on Mary was held that night, Wed 12th, at Sunderland Royal Infirmary.  Evidence was given by Police Inspector Morgan that the submarine was well out of the water and that the men could be clearly seen moving around the deck,

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The submarine was firing three inch shells and the Inspector produced a piece of one which was found near to where Mrs Slaughter was injured.  It bore the name "Krupp" and was evidently German.

The jury returned a verdict that death resulted from the explosion of a shell fired by a German submarine.

Another Seaham inhabitant however, Carl Mortinson, a miner of 14 Doctor Street, had a very lucky escape. The nose of a shell demolished part of the back yard wall, flew across the room and dropped near the front door without harming any of the occupants.  Only Mrs Mortinson was in the kitchen and the shell missed her.  The rest of the family were in bed upstairs.

Click on the link below to read the original news aricle as it appeared in the                      SEAHAM WEEKLY NEWS on July 14th 1916

Seaham Bombardment


"Terrific Gale and Loss of Life"

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Lifeboat Callout    -     Monday 2nd March 1874

A Prussian ship, laden with oak staves and bound for Hartlepool, ran aground off Seaham Hall in thick fog and rolling waves.  The "Sisters Carter" lifeboat was launched and the crew of 10 were taken ashore.
Three steam tugs tried to lift her off the rocks but were only able to succeed the following day at high tide.  The greatly damaged ship was towed to Sunderland where her cargo was taken off.

Lifeboat on Standby       --  Sunday 30th November 1874

The night of Saturday 29th November saw the North East coast battered by a tremendous storm of gale force winds and heavy rain which did not abate until about 3 o'clock the following day.  During this time several disasters occured along the coast which affected shipping severely and many lives were lost.

Just before 9 o'clock on Sunday morning while the storm raged the lifeboat 'Sisters Carter" was called out to aid a schooner in distress.  It soon became apparent however that the lifeboat would not be required as the vessel was now just a few yards from the new pier.  The heavily laden vessel was a pityful sight, sails reduced to a few scraps of canvas,  each wave hitting the deck and threatening to dash her to pieces and the crew of four lashed to the rigging.

The lifeboat crew came to the pier with ropes but the vessel wasn't near enough for them to throw a rope on board.  Just as they were getting ready the rocket lines the vessel "Lady Anne' of Wells altered position so that someone on the pier was able to throw a line over the jib-boom. What followed is described movingly and in great detail by the Seaham Weekly News reporter who was present at the scene.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of the lifeboat crew and other Seaham men three of the crew of the 'Lady Anne" were saved.  Sadly, despite valiant efforts,  the Captain lost his life. 

Terrific gale and loss of life
Seaham Weekly News - Dec. 4th 1874

This edition is a first hand account of the events described above as well as describing how the storm affected shipping at South Shields and as far away as Berwick


Story Behind The Headstone

The tragic story of Caroline Edith Winter is narrated in articles taken from the Seaham Weekly News in August 1889
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Inscription On Headstone

In Loving Memory Of

Caroline Edith Winter

Who was Murdered at Seaham Harbour

August 2nd 1889

Aged 7 years and 7 months

A Light Is From Our Household Gone

A Voice We Love Is Settled

A Place Is Vacant At Our Hearth

Which Never Can Be Filled

Also James Winter

Beloved Husband Of Jane Ann Winter

And Father Of The Above

Who Died 28th March 1890 Aged 55.years.

After A Long Illness He Departed In Pease

Also Jane Ann Beloved Wife Of The Above

Who Died June 11th 1924 Aged 83.years.

Also Catherine Ann Beloved Wife Of

James Winter

Who Died February 6th 1892, Aged 27.years.


No. 1523. – Seaham Weekly News. – Friday, August, 09th 1889

Horrible Murder of a Child.

On Saturday morning last a very painful sensation was caused in this town and throughout the neighbourhood on its becoming known that a most brutal crime had been committed on the North Sands close to the town during the previous night, the victim being a little girl, between seven and eight years of age, who had been outraged and cruelly murdered.  The circumstances lead to the belief that the child Caroline Edith Winter, daughter of James Winter, screenman, employed at Seaham Colliery, and living in Little John Street, Seaham Harbour, was decoyed from near her father’s house and led away to the sea beach by a man between nine and ten o’clock on Friday night; she was not seen again live.  When it grew dark the parents became very anxious as the child had not gone home, they proceeded to look for her, and by some means learned that about nine o’clock she had been with another young girl named Ann Cowell, who is eleven years of age.  On applying to Cowell for information they were told that she and Caroline Winter were met in Back North Terrace by a man who was a stranger (at least to Cowell), that he to Winter and said he was her cousin, that he asked Winter to go with him, and said he would give her a shilling.  Cowell states that she was going an errand for her mother, and that she spoke up and asked Winter to go with her, and that she replied “No I am going with my cousin.”  The stranger than took the child by the hand and led her off along the Back Terrace in the direction of the sea beach, while Cowell, after watching them for a short distance along the Terrace, went to complete her errand.  On receiving this information James Winter went at once to the Police Station and gave information as to his child being lost, and the particulars he had heard about the man taking her away.  Inspector Burrell lost no time in drawing together all his available force and a thorough search was made along the sea banks and also along the beach.  From half-past eleven on Friday night till near six o’clock on Saturday morning the sea banks from Seaham to Ryhope were searched by the officers, and also by several anxious relatives and friends of the missing child.  Northing, however, was discovered as to the fate of the girl until about seven o’clock on Saturday morning.  About that time a young man named Harry Smith, son of Mr Smith of the Blandford Hotel, Seaham Harbour, was walking along the beach accompanied by a greyhound dog, which he had taken out for exercise,  At a little distance from the Featherbed Rock, on the south side of it, the Dawdon Burn, after flowing for a considerable distance through a deep ravine from Dawdon Dene, empties itself into the sea.  At this spot is a wide open space amphitheatrically in form, and at the upper end is the mouth of a stone culvert by which the burn is carried under the North Road.  Beyond this open space and only a few yards further north is a sort of cave under the projecting cliffs.  When opposite this cave Smith’s dog stopped and seemed uneasy, unwilling to stay behind his master and unwilling to leave the cave.  This naturally drew the young man’s attention to the spot, and on going closer up to the cave he saw a little girl’s hat in the middle of a pool of blood. Shocking at the discovery, and suspecting that there was something wrong, he went a few yards further on thinking he might meet someone to whom he could communicate what he had seen, when on reaching the open space before referred to he saw two men in the act of lifting the body of a little girl out of a pool of water, the pool being near the mouth of the culvert.  Smith saw that the forehead of the child was shockingly bruised, and had evidently bled much.  He told the men that had seen the hat and blood in the cave, and then proceeded on to the Police Station, where he gave information of the circumstances to Inspector Burrell and Sergeant Donnegan, who at once supposed that the body would be that of the poor child for whom during the night all had been seeking, and the supposition was correct.  The body was brought up from the beach and conveyed to the dead house at the Infirmary, and was identified by James Winter as that of his daughter Caroline Edith Winter.  From that time to the present the efforts of the police, both here and throughout the whole of the district, have been unceasingly, directing to the finding out of the murderer.  Unfortunately, they may be said to be without a clue, as the only meagre scrap of information they have had is the statement of the little girl Cowell.  Rumours at first circulated respecting the man taking the child Winter into Mr Donaldson’s shop to buy sweets led to the hope that some reliable description of the fellow would there be obtained, but it was found on inquiry by the police that he had not been there.  A very evident feature of the case is that the murderer is some one well acquainted with the locality.  A stranger would not have been likely to find his way when darkness was settling in to a spot so suited for the commission of a crime, that part of the being on the land side in a manner shut in by projecting rocks.  He had apparently led the girl straight to the cave, there first outraged her, and then beaten her to death with some of the pieces of rock and sharp stones which strew the beach.  The body had than been carried round the corner formed by the projecting rocks, and thrown into the pool near the culvert where it was found.  Although most unlikely that any one would be on the sands near the spot at that hour many people would be passing along the road above, but no one has reported having heard any cry.

During the night the police and some of the child’s friends who were assisting in the search for her passed and repassed the place but neither heard nor saw anything to indicate that they were close to the where so awful a crime had been committed.  When first seen in the morning by the man who went to cut grass the girl was lying on her back in the pool, with her feet and hands out of the water.  The face and head were very much bruised.  There were three jagged wounds on the face, one above each temple, and one in the middle of the face.  These cuts could hardly have been caused by a fall, and to confirm the belief that the girl had been shockingly murdered, two pieces of rock were found covered with clots of blood and splinters of bone.  Those who were early on the spot describe the condition of the girl as most shocking.  Her hands were also bruised, and her fingers lacerated.  When discovered the body was at once conveyed to the Infirmary.  Dr Dillon early saw the body, and described the wounds which have been already mentioned.  He also expressed the opinion that the child had been outraged, but withheld any further comment until the inquest.

As soon as the affair became known crowds of people gathered at the place where the body had been found.  Anger and pity were the predominating feelings, and had the murderer been found during the morning when the crowd was largest, it would have gone hard with him.  In confirmation of the statement that the man had given the child money to buy sweets, a packet of sweets, half emptied, was found in the cave during the day.

Much sympathy is felt for the parents of the deceased girl, they have only lived in the town about six weeks, having removed here from Seaham Colliery, the father being in poor health.

An inquest was opened on the body on Monday afternoon, at the Infirmary, before Mr C. E. Barnes, deputy-corner.  Superintendent Wilkinson and Inspector Burrell were present on behalf of the police.  Mr John Richardson was appointed foreman of the jury, who then proceeded to view the body.–The only witness called was James Winter, of 2 Little John Street, who said he was a screenman

screenman when he was working. He identified the body viewed by the jury as that of his daughter, Caroline Edith Winter.  She was seven years and seven months old.–Mr Barnes said the police did not wish that any further evidence should be taken then.  They merely wished the body to be identified and then to have an adjournment for a fortnight to see what evidence could be got in the meantime.–The inquest was adjourned until Monday, the 19th inst., when it will be continued at half-past ten in the morning at Seaham Police Court.

On Tuesday [August 6th] the funeral of the victim was held, the burial taking place at Christ Church, New Seaham, at which village the parents recently resided, and because other relatives of the family are interred in the same graveyard.  Two o’clock was appointed as the hour for the departure of the funeral procession from the home of deceased.  Many beautiful wreaths which had been sent by ladies and gentlemen of Seaham Harbour were laid on the coffin, and a very touching feature of the funeral procession was the presence of a number of children from the Infant School at New Seaham, former schoolfellows of the deceased, each one carrying a little posy of simple flowers.  When the hearse containing the coffin moved away, there was a tremendous crowd of spectators.  All along the line of the route was an unbroken throng of people standing on each side.  Arriving at the churchyard gate, the Revd Canon Scott, vicar, met the mourners, and commenced the reading of the burial service.  The reverend gentleman gave a short but solemn address to those present, the church was crowded, and many had to remain outside.  After the father, sister, and brother of the child had taken a last look, the friends and others standing round threw flowers on to the coffin, and the scholars passed round the feet and deposited their bouquets also, until the grave was filled to the depth of nearly twelve inches.

The following description of the man wanted has been sent to all the police stations in the north, and is as follows:–“A man, unknown, supposed age about 30; height, 5ft 5in; complexion, dark, black moustache, dressed in dark, ragged jacket, vest, and trousers, and black hard felt hat.”

Several men have been taken into custody on suspicion by the police in various parts of the county, but were afterwards liberated.  Since the first finding of the body of the child, Inspector Burrell has not allowed the least scrap of information to be discarded without sifting it to the bottom.  Superintendent Wilkinson has been none the less active then his subordinate.  The sergeants and constables in the subdivision of Seaham Harbour have likewise done their very best, and have exercised great energy and alacrity in following out the instructions of their superiors.  The idea of the crime having been committed by a tramp has never been held by persons who have carefully thought the matter over.  The police at the present time are not without hope that they have some clue to the miscreant, and their efforts will be best assisted by reticence on the part of the press until something more decisive is known

No. 1524. – Seaham Weekly News. – Friday, August, 16th 1889.

Supposed Suicide.


A Dead Body Found On Seaham Beach

The excitement caused in Seaham Harbour ten days before by the murder of the child Caroline Edith Winter, had somewhat subsided, when on Monday morning last [August, 12th ] a renewal to some extent of the sensation was caused by finding of a man’s jacket, apparently of blue serge, with side pockets, of the kind usually worn by sea going firemen, and a portion of a woollen shirt and a cap, on the beach by a boy named John Bolton and a man named William Greenwood. These articles were found under a ledge not far from the cave where the girl is believed to have been murdered on the night of Friday, the 2nd inst. The clothes were taken possession of by Inspector Burrell, who received immediate information of the discovery. The assumption was at once come to by the popular mind that the articles belonged to the murderer, and it was further concluded that he had committed suicide. On examination, it could not be said positively whether some marks observed on the clothes were blood stains, and a more critical inspection was reserved for an expert. The agitation thus aroused was, however, intensified to a much higher degree when, at about six o’ clock on Monday evening, [August, 12th] the dead body of a man was found almost in the immediate vicinity of where the clothes referred to were picked up. The body was first seen lying at the edge of the water by three women, strangers to the town, one of whom was Miss Mary Jane Johnson, of Little Eppleton, near Hetton-le-Hole. These people had come to Seaham for the afternoon on purpose – it is stated – to see the cave where the child Winter was recently murdered, and the place where her body was found. They had just got sight of the body of a man lying on the sands, when Mr H. W. Richardson and Miss Richardson of North Terrace, Seaham Harbour, who were walking on the sands, came in sight, and the women, who seemed much alarmed, beckoned and called to them to hasten on. On reaching the place they saw the body of a man lying close to the water’s edge. After sending a messenger to the police station with the information, Mr Richardson, with the assistance of a man who had been standing on the banks and seeing that there was something going on below, went down to the beach, got the body pulled up a little further from the water on to the dry sand. Sergeant Donnegan was at the Police Station when the message was delivered, he at once summoned P.C.’s Featherstone, Reed, and Veale to his aid. Calling at the Infirmary as they passed and getting the ambulance stretcher, they all proceeded to the beach and subsequently conveyed the body to the dead house. The only clothing on the body was a pair of dark tweed checked trousers, pair of braces, one sock, and a boot on the right foot. The deceased had the appearance of being fairly well nourished. The age of the man might be about 45 or 50. The hair on the head, turning grey, had originally been of a lightish brown colour, the crown and partly down the back of the head was bald, light moustache, also turning grey, no whiskers, complexion fair, about five feet five inches in height, medium build, rather a military appearance, the hands quite smooth, not like those o’ a workman. The deceased appeared to have been shaved a very short time before death. The body had not been many hours in the water. The forehead and face were cut in places, and one eye quite swollen up. A large and excited crowd soon gathered around the Infirmary, among whom the opinion was freely expressed that the deceased was none other than murderer of the little girl Caroline Winter.



On Wednesday [August, 14th] morning, Mr C. E. Barnes, deputy coroner, held an inquest at the Infirmary on the body of the man (unknown) who was found lying on the North Sands on Monday [August 12th] evening. Police Superintendent Webster, from Castle Eden, Police Inspector Burrell, were present at the inquiry.

Harrop Wight Richardson, journalist, was first called. He deposed to being on the beach on Monday night last, about six o’clock, when his attention was called by a young to the dead body of a man lying within the wash of the sea. Witness at once sent information to the police office, and then, with the assistance of a man who came up, dragged the body on to a higher part of the sands. Before the arrival of a policeman, witness examined deceased, and found several bruises on the forehead and face, which were bleeding. The body was quite flaccid. One foot was bare, and the other foot had on it a stocking and a boot. The body had also on it a pair of trousers and a waistcoat, but no shirt. The braces were properly fastened over the shoulders. Witness did not know the man.

Matthew Shotton, living at No. 6, Warren Street, Sunderland, a rivetter, said he and another man were walking into Seaham Harbour from Sunderland on Monday morning last, about a quarter to six o’clock. When nearing the volunteer battery, they saw a man like deceased coming along the road from the opposite direction. The man was walking very quickly, and suddenly he turned down the bank leading to the beach. The man had on a cap similar to the one shown to witness at the dead house. Witness could not say positively that the dead body he had seen was the same person he saw go on the beach. Witness did not known what became of the man after he went down the bank. When witness heard of a man having been found drowned, he give information of what he had seen to Inspector Burrell.

Dr. Dillon deposed to making a post-mortem examination of the body of deceased on Tuesday afternoon. Witness found the body well nourished. Death appeared to have taken place about two days before. The hair of deceased was of a dark chestnut colour, tinged with grey, and very fine in texture. Deceased had no beard or whiskers. He had a steel grey moustache. Witness otherwise described the body. Two teeth were wanting. The face was much bruised and stained with blood. There was a small ante mortem wound on the bridge of the nose. The left eye was closed from effusion into the upper eye lid, the result of a seyero bruise during life. There was a mark almost an inch square on the inner side of the right thigh from varicose veins, about three inches above the knee. The internal organs on the whole were healthy. Witness was of opinion that death resulted from drowning, and that the body was stunned before immersion. The wounds seen on the forehead and face might have been caused by a blow from a blunt instrument, or by a fall on a flat rock, providing deceased had fallen from a great height. A stand up fall would not have produced the bruises. It would take considerable force to cause the injuries. There were bruises on the shins, which might have been caused by washing against the rocks. The body appeared to have been in the water about twelve or fourteen hours. This would make the intervening period coincide with the time the witness Shotton saw the man he referred to. Deceased was about forty five years of age, and slightly bald above each temple. The hair was thin. If deceased had fallen from the high rocks near where found, this would account for the bruises.

Sergt. Donnegan then gave evidence, and said on examining the body of deceased, he found nothing to indicate who deceased was. There was nothing about the body, except a small comb. The trousers had on them patent buttons, marked “Newgate Clothing Company,” which witness had ascertained was a Glasgow clothing firm. Witness showed the coroner and the jury a coat and cap which were found near to where found near to where deceased was found, about twelve hours previously. In the trousers which the man had on was a rule pocket, which had not been put in by a tailor. Witness was of opinion that the water could not possibly have washed the shirt off. He also believed that deceased’s coat was off before he came in contact with the water.

The Coroner thought it peculiar for the shirt to be off and the vest on.

Some of the jurymen thought deceased might not have had a shirt on.

This being all the evidence, the Coroner addressed the jury, and remarked that unless they were not satisfied with the evidence produced, and wished to adjourn the inquest, they could only return a verdict of “Found drowned.” The evidence of the doctor showed that the bruises spoken of had been done before death, but fair reason had been given for their appearance. Unless Mr Burrell wished the inquiry to be held over, he thought the verdict mentioned might be returned.

Inspector Burrell stated that he made inquiries sufficient to cause him to believe that no more evidence regarding the death of deceased could be obtained. It could not with certainty he said the jacket and cap picked up at a previous part of the day belonged to deceased. He had, since the body was found, picked up the other boot. It was not laced, and might have been washed off with the water.

The jury, agreeing with the remarks of the Coroner, returned a verdict of “Found drowned.”

The features of deceased have been photographed for the use of the police.

The remains of the deceased man were interred at the cemetery on Wednesday afternoon. The body had not been identified. Previous to the interment photographs of the features were taken by Mr Lawson, photographic artist, Seaham Harbour. No inquiries have been made of the police authorities here, or information given respecting any person missing, although a description of the deceased has been widely published by the daily press. It is thought in some quarters that the body found is that of the murderer of the little girl Winter; should there be any evidence substantiating that opinion it will no doubt be brought forward at the adjourned inquiry into the death of Caroline Edith Winter, which is fixed for Monday next.        

No. 1525. - Seaham Weekly News. -  Friday, August, 23nd 1889

The Murder Of A Child On The Beach


Adjourned Inquest and Verdict


The adjourned inquest on the body of the little girl Caroline Edith Winter, who was murdered on the North Sands on the night of Friday, August 2nd, was resumed at the Seaham Police Court on Monday morning, before the Deputy-Coroner, Mr C. E. Barnes.–The case for the police was watched by Superintendent Wilkinson and Inspector Burrell.

Dr Dillon first gave evidence.  He described the fearful injuries the deceased had received to the head and body, and said that death had resulted from a fracture of the skull.  The Lower part of the body was lacerated and torn, and the child had been outraged.  Stones produced by Supt. Wilkinson would have caused the injuries to the head of deceased.  The stones–three large and jagged ones–were marked with blood.

Mrs Donaldson, who keeps a confectioner’s shop on Back North Terrace, said she last saw the deceased on the night of Friday, August 2nd, a little before 9 o’clock, when she went into the shop to buy two eggs.  Witness did not see the deceased alive.

Ann Cowell, 10 years of age, living with her parents at Little John Street, said she knew Caroline Edith Winter, and last saw her alive on the night of August 2nd at nine o’clock, or a little after.  Deceased had a halfpenny, and went to Mrs Donaldson’s shop to buy some cocoanut nibs.  Whilst standing beside Mrs Donaldson’s shop a man came up and took hold of the arm of deceased.  She would know the man again if she saw him.  The man did not speak to them, but he took Caroline into the shop and bought her a halfpenny worth of bullets.  After they came out the man and Caroline went along the Back Terrace, towards Sebastopol Terrace.  Witness stopped beside Dr Beatty’s house, and watched the Man and deceased go along the North Road, to where the gate stands which leads to the sands.  Witness then went to the chemist’s shop, where she had had at first been sent, and then returned home.  She never saw the man again, nor did she again see Caroline alive.  The man had his hat over his eyes.  Witness could only see his moustache.  Caroline seemed to know the man, because she went away so quietly with him.  He did not show the shilling. He told Caroline that he was her cousin.  Witness asked deceased if the man was her cousin.  Caroline laughed, and said “Yes.”  Witness said, “Come along with me Caroline, and I will give you a halfpenny.”  Deceased replied, “No,  he is going to give me a shilling, and I will go with him.”

By the Foreman:  The man’s dress was all in rags.

The Coroner:  He talked like a pitman.

By a Juryman:  Witness did not go into the shop with the man and deceased.

By the Coroner:  She saw the body of the man who was drowned, but it was not like that of man she saw with her companion.

John Hamilton, of Back North Railway Street, pitman, said that at about eight o’clock on Saturday morning, August 3rd, when out with his brother and a dog on the sands, he noticed something, which he thought the figure-head of a ship, in a pool of water near the culvert of Dawdon Burn.  He went to make an inspection, and found it was the body of a child.  He pulled it out.  His brother went for the police, and he remained by the body until Sergeant Donnegan arrived.  He noticed there were cuts about the head, and the clothes on the body were lifted up and rolled round the her waist. All the body was under water

David Hamilton, miner, of  3,Frances Street, corroborated the statement of his bother, the previous witness.

Mrs Donaldson (re-called) said she did not see the little girl Winter come in on the night of the 2nd of August to get any sweets with a man. No man came into the shop for sweets that night.

Henry Smith, barman at the Blandford Hotel, said that on the morning of the 3rd of August when exercising a greyhound on the sea beach between eight and Nine o’clock he noticed the animal behave in a strange manner, remaining behind in front of the cave. Going back to where the dog was he found a girl’s hat in a pool of blood in the cave. On turning again to proceed towards the town he had only gone a few yards when he saw two men (the Hamilton’s) pulling the body of a little girl out of a pool of water, near to the Dawdon Burn. The distance from the cave to where the body was found was 85 yards.

Sergeant Donnegan said that on the 3rd inst., at about five minutes to nine 0’clock in the morning, he went to the mouth of Dawdon Dene culvert, and there saw the body of the deceased, which had been taken from the water. He also had a white straw hat handed to him. There was blood on it. He noticed the injuries described by previous witnesses, and also that the dead child’s hands were clenched, bruised and cut, as though they had been struck by something. By his direction the body was taken on a stretcher to the Infirmary, where a post-mortem examination was made by Dr Dillon. Witness examined a cave pointed out by him by Smith, and there found a pool of blood, about four yards from the entrance. The cave extended back seven and a half yards from the entrance, and was four feet high over the spot where the blood was found. He was able to trace the blood from the cave to the pool, and about five yards from the mouth of the cave there was a clot of blood, as though the body had been put down there to enable the person carrying it to get a better hold. He took a number of stones from the cave which were bloody. They also had skin and hair sticking to them, and were the same as produced that morning.  

This was the whole of the evidence.

The Coroner, addressing the jury, said there could be no doubt that a brutal murder had been committed, and it was a great pity that no one had been taken into custody who could be identified with it. He did not think any benefit would be obtained by adjourning the inquiry again, but if the jury desired it he would do so.

The Foremen intimated that the jury did not think a further adjournment necessary.

The Coroner continuing said he did not think the evidence, which was so simple, required any explanation or comment on his part. The jury had no alternative but to find that a murder had been committed, and thought they would agree that it had been committed on the night of the 2nd of August.

The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person unknown.