Scurr Family Mystery solved

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Through the 1800s, Grandma Cichon’s father’s family were sailors and sail makers in North Shields and Tynemouth in Northeast England.

After brothers George Henry Scurr and William Gordon Scurr were killed at sea during the Great War, their mother Mary Alice would walk to the sea every day and just stare, awaiting a return that she knew would never come.

With sadness, Mary Alice, along with George Henry Sr., and eventually sons John and James, moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and then Buffalo, New York, USA.

My grandmother was the daughter of James Scurr, and among her things was this photo… of a group of people on a beach.

For the 20 years or so I’ve had this photo, I’ve never known anything about it. Not who, not where, not anything. It was with photos that belonged to my great grandmother, so I assumed that this was her family—and through the years, to no avail, I’ve searched dozens of beach photos from Ireland and Scotland for any sign of these landmarks.

No avail— until today, when I was having a cup of tea with my Aunt Elaine, also daughter of James Scurr and Grandma’s youngest sister.

She was talking about visiting the Longsands and the beaches of Tynemouth, and her description made me think of this photo.

After an hour or so of searching for historic photos of Longsands, I knew I was in the right area, but I wanted to find another photo with the building or the walkway or the giant wheels to prove it conclusively.

A mile or so north of Longsands is Cullercoats, so I searched that, too. The first image I clicked on had the building, the walkway, and the giant wheels! What a great feeling after so many fruitless searches…

It’s wonderful to know that the photo was taken at the Cullercoats Life Saving Station, no more than two miles from where the Scurrs lived until the early 1920s.

Perhaps over the next 20 years, I’ll figure out which of these folks are my Scurrs- but knowing these are my relatives or people loved by my relatives, enjoying a day on their local beach is good enough for me.

I’m really obsessed that I can go there and take almost the same photo right now!

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.