A newspaper cutting from the Northern Echo of 25th June 1913, refers to an Inquest held following the death of John Gallagher, 31, a miner of no fixed abode, who died in a cave on Hawthorn Beach. The poor man’s demise brought to the public’s attention “once again” the problem of the cave dwellers of Seaham.
Apparently, for five weeks prior to his death both the deceased and his brother had been living on bread, butter and bacon in a cave two miles south of Seaham Harbour – as part of a roving community, it seems. Continually evicted by the police, these poor folk would simply move onto neighbouring caves – their old haunts being taken over within hours by their brethren.
The Inquest report dwelled on the future policing policy in the area, with rather more concern being shown for the meeting of the costs and expenses incurred by this sad incident than sympathy expressed for the victim and his associates.
P.S. I should be pleased to know if anyone has any further information on this story.
[Thanks to Jan Coyne]