MEMORIES 412 contained adverts from a programme produced in 1911 to accompany Bishop Auckland’s celebrations of the coronation of King George V.

On one page of the programme, there were adverts for Mrs Messenger’s Hygienic Bakery and J Thirkell & Son’s hairdressers. Not only were these establishments opposite each other in Newgate Street, but they were run by a brother and sister.

John and Charlotte Thirkell were born within two years of each other in the early 1850s. Their father, John, was a boot and shoe maker and also a hydropathic baths proprietor.

Rather than follow his father into cobbling, John Jnr was apprenticed into the hairdressing trade, and set himself up in business at Great Gates off Newgate Street in 1872. Not only did he do trims, but he was an umbrella doctor as well and he performed minor surgery to humans on the side.

For some reason, hairdressers usually doubled as umbrella doctors in the past.

John became an influential figure in Bishop Auckland, councillor, school governor, JP and, most importantly, perruquier (maker of wigs) to the operatic society, with which he performed.

While John did the municipal work – his picture is included in the 1911 programme – his son, Fred, ran the hairdressers.

“Uncle Fred often did the makeup and provided wigs for acts appearing at the Eden Theatre,” says John Heslop, in Durham, who is the great-grandson of John Jnr. “He was very proud of having visited the d’Oyly Carte company at the Savoy Theatre in London to learn the makeup for The Gondoliers, so that he could provide a local amateur production at the Eden with the authentic makeup.

“Uncle Fred’s other claim to fame was that he gave Sir Anthony Eden his first haircut. He didn’t normally do house calls, but the exception was his visits to the Edens at Windlestone Hall.”

Anthony, who was Prime Minister during the 1950s, was born at Windleston in 1897.

The hairdresser’s business was wound up after Fred’s death in 1960.

Charlotte’s Hygienic Bakery kept going for longer.

Charlotte Messenger, née Thirkell, was John Thirkell, junior’s older sister and was born in 1852. She married Joseph W. Messenger, from Arkengarthdale, but I don’t have the date of marriage.

“Her descendent, Norman Messenger, was the last person to run the business and provided a special birthday cake in 1968 for my 21st birthday,” says John.

WE have to ask: why does a narrow, minor path off Newgate Street have the grand name of Great Gates?

ANOTHER of the 1911 adverts was for hatter TJ Brown. “He was my great uncle,” says Tim Brown in Ferryhill.

“He had been born at East Deanery, South Church in 1875. His shop continued to trade in Newgate Street until about 1950. He lived with his family in Cockton Hill Road, near to which, in Beaumont Street, his younger brother, Timothy, had opened a grocer’s shop in 1919.”