Spot these fly guys?

Published: 26 February 2023
Reporter: David Upton

The fly staff

Tyne Theatre & Opera House is searching for the descendants of its Victorian stage staff as part of a National Heritage Lottery project.

The group photo was discovered by Project Director David Wilmore in a copy of the Evening Chronicle from 1937. It shows the men from the fly staff outside the stage door on Thornton Street in 1901. These men would have worked with the Victorian wooden stage machinery, which the Tyne Theatre & Opera House is currently restoring ahead of a demonstration at an international conference in September.

The named men are (top row L–R) John Denton, Wm. Maitland, W Smith, T Murray, T Brumell, J Diamond, (bottom row L–R) Jim Baker, T Collins, R Kelso, J Younger, J McEwan, and seated in the centre Jim Preston, the master flyman.

They are also looking for descendants of Frederick William Humphrys in charge of the stage machinery during the late 1800s. Born in Somerset, he had six children with wife Annie Walkinshaw, four born in Newcastle.

If you have any information to help, contact [email protected].