ARP Headquarters, North Shields

Joan Sampson Photo Collection


Paul Sampson recently contacted us with news of a discovery of a cache of photos belonging to his late mother Joan Sampson.
The photos would appear to show the ARP control centre at Cleveland Villa* tentatively dated to 1942. Mrs Sampson’s mother, Florrie Brown nee Florence Partis (1899-1985), was an ARP telephonist and features in several of the photographs.

This is a very interesting and rare collection of photos. Of course, we now need your help in identifying those people in the photos!

*Cleveland Villa, was situated at the east end of Cleveland Road, where the Opulence housing project has been built.

Joyce Marti at North Shields Central Library has kindly provided this photo of Cleveland Villa, featured in the Shields Evening News of 13/12/38 at the time of its adoption as the ARP headquarters.

It is not known when the Cleveland Villa was demolished, but the Adult Training Centre was built around 1970.

Other snippets from newspapers:

11.3.1949:  Cleveland Villa Children’s Nursery – opening ceremony.

28.4.1967: Cleveland Villa, formerly the headquarters of the Society for Mentally Handicapped Children was vacated 3 months ago.



Inspector Harold White and Staff


Florrie Brown (front row, first left)


Florrie Brown (front row, first left)


Unknown staff





Control Centre


ARP Control Centre


Florrie Brown, 1st centre row


ARP Control Centre



Mr Sampson spent a day at Tyne Wear Archives going through the T15 series of ARP archives.
This research enabled him to discount the identification of “Inspector Ward” as given on the back of one of the photos.The archives provided a list of paid Civil Defence personnel from 1938 which pre-dates Cleveland Villa.

It is now confirmed, thanks to correspondent Diane Bayley,  that the key male figure in the photos is Inspector Harold White.

As for identifying any of the other staff, I didn’t have much luck. There are many address lists but there were hundreds of folk involved in the CD, too many to copy, so I only captured the first of the few in 1938 – the paid staff. This is before Cleveland Villa, so by the time the pictures were taken, many were unpaid volunteers. I suppose some of the early names would have continued, so, for what it’s worth, here are those early ones:”

Roland Park         Police War Reserve

Mrs M Park          Warden (wife of above)

R Curley            Auxiliary Fire Service

Mrs R Curley        Warden (wife of above)

T R Muers           Auxiliary Fire Service

Mrs R Muers         Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (wife of above)

Jack Driver            Auxiliary Fire Service

Nan (Mrs M E) Driver      Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (wife of above)

H Longstaffe        Auxiliary Fire Service

Mrs M Longstaffe    Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (wife of above)

O Gerrard           Auxiliary Fire Service

Mrs M A Gerrard     Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (wife of above)

Jos Furlong         Auxiliary Fire Service

John Furlong        Auxiliary Fire Service (brother of above)

Stan Hewitt            Auxiliary Fire Service

Miss Winnie Hewitt     First Aid (sister of above)

Mrs E Williamson    Warden

Miss R Williamson   Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (daughter of above)

W Wilson            First Aid Party

J Wilson            First Aid Party (son of above)

Miss M R Bolton     Ambulance Driver

Miss I Bolton       Ambulance Driver (sister of above)

Miss A Weidner      Ambulance Driver

Miss M A Weidner    Ambulance Driver (sister of above)

A E Reynolds        Auxiliary Fire Service Officer

Miss N Reynolds     Auxiliary Fire Service Telephonist (daughter of above)

Miss K Costelloe    Ambulance Driver

Mrs P Fraser        Ambulance Driver (sister of above)

G Chapman           Auxiliary Fire Service

Mrs M Chapman       Report Centre (wife of above)

A Harrison          First Aid Party

Mrs J Harrison      Warden (wife of above)

F A Harvey          Warden

R Harvey            Report Centre Messenger (son of above)

Mrs E Weatherstone  First Aid Post

D W Plaxton         Police War Reserve

Can you help identify the people in the photos…or discount those in the list above?
We’d love to hear from you!


The photos are tentatively dated as 1942? on the back of one of the photos. My sense is (and it may well be incorrect) that the photos are earlier…possibly just pre-War…given the absence of ARP paraphernalia in the rooms (posters, kit, clothing), the lack of pins/marks on the main wall map (the Borough recorded over 300 bombs between 1941-43), and that the personnel are not accompanied with the ubiquitous gas mask, nor are they wearing ARP uniforms (save for one male and the ladies who are in regulation overcoats – the latter two photos may be of later date). What do you think?


Our thanks to Paul. The photos have been deposited with North Shields Central Library – Local Studies.


Mike Scott provides some further identifications…

S Hewitt was Stan Hewitt
W M Hewitt was Winnie Hewitt
J Driver was Jack Driver
Mrs M E Driver was Nan Driver

They were all friends of my father Jack Scott who was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was a member of the AFS until he was posted south to Colchester. He was recalled to rejoin the AFS when bombing was at its worst early 1940.

Mt father-in-law, Athel Thornton, was ARP warden.