George was a seaman and on one leave brought an orphan boy Leonard Key home with him. He said he never had any place to go when he was on leave and could he come home with him? It was a small flat in Belford Tce with six people already living there but he was warmly welcomed. George was drowned at sea in the first world war, 1916, so Leonard became like a son, coming home to Kate for all his leaves, and taking Georges place to a large degree. Kate became very fond of him.
An important thing happened when young George was lost – Kate became reconciled with her father and from then on her fortunes began to change. Most of Georges children still living had left home and didn’t really want to be bothered with him, he wasn’t a very nice person. He needed someone to look after him in his old age – Kate.
He bought her a house in Jackson Street, No 8. he moved in round the corner at No. 1 Park Crescent. He helped her financially, giving her stocks and shares, helping to make the house comfortable, good furniture, lovely picture and ornaments.
He was the first man, or one of the first men, to have a motor car in North Shields, anyone in the family, any neighbour or any employee could borrow the motor car for an important event – a burial or a wedding, with a GBP5 note thrown in! Stepha the Greek definitely mellowed and became more generous in old age!
When he died he left Kate GBP3,000 and stocks and shares, and the house they lived in so Kate and Hudson became rich at last.
They fell out with Uncle Billy – Georges younger son, who left all his money to his mistress Sally Kirkland. If that hadn’t happened they would have been richer still.
Still all the family had very happy times at Jackson street, Leonard came there when he was on leave. Kate was always ready to go out dancing with her son Bill, to Whist drives or have a party at home. There was always a welcome for anyone who cared to call.
One of these was a cousin, Alfie Stephenson. His father must have been a brother of William and George. He went to sea where he lost one of his legs, after the wooden replacement was fitted his nickname became Peg leg. He was a frequent visitor at Kate’s, also going round to the fountain Head Pub where Kate’s son Bill was the tenant. When he died Bill was determined to have Alfie’s clock – a very pretty chiming clock he had brought home from one of his trips – Minnie and Jimmy Armstrong went from the Fountain Head to his house in Stephenson Street. It was very dirty and before leaving Jimmy, who was always immaculate, stirred the curtains round the bed with his walking stick. They carried the clock home with great delight, but found they had brought another addition – They were covered in fleas!
The clock is at 12 Ingleside Road and still has a very pretty chime – but no fleas!
Meg Stephenson in 1987
Death Certificate of George Stephenson 1918
He was killed when the Glenart Castle was torpedoed in 1918
Leonard Key was also lost at sea – in WW2.
He was a cook on the SS DEPTFORD. Built in 1931 by Smith's Dock Co. The ship was steaming from from Kirkenes to England under the command of captain Furguson with a cargo of iron ore. She was torpedoed by a German submarine U 38 at 1 p.m. on December 13th, 1939, N.W. of Honningsvaag Lighthouse at Stadt, Norway. The vessel sank immediately and out of her crew of 35 there were only five survivors. Four men were picked up by the steamship Firda, and another three by the steamship Nordnorge, but two died shortly after they were taken on board. Capt. Ferguson was lost with the vessel. The Deptford was not in convoy at the time of the sinking.
This picture is thought to be of Uncle Alfie – he of the chiming clock! The legend on the photo dates it as 1900, however it could be as much as 20 years later.