Statue In South Shields, Tyne And Wear
A statue to local heroine Dolly Peel, a smuggler, fighter against the pressgang and eventually nurse.
If you lived in South Shields in the 18th century and wanted to smuggle booze, cigarettes or budgies, then Dorothy “Dolly” Peel was who you would seek out.
Fishwife by day and smuggler by night, specialising in tobacco, cigars, brandy, perfume and lace. She wasn't a big fan of the pressgang, enforcing young men to join the military, and would regularly hide local sailors under her petticoats until the coast was clear.
She couldn't hide her husband and son forever and when they were finally forcibly enrolled in the navy during the Napoleonic Wars, she snuck onto the ship too.
When she was eventually discovered she was put to work as a nurse in the ship's “cockpit” where crude surgery was performed on the injured sailors. Her dedication and work rate were lauded and she was allowed to stay on the ship with her family. She was given a pardon (for interfering with naval practice), her husband and son released from the navy and she returned a local heroine.
Dolly would also entertain the masses in the Market Place with her wit and humour. She would regularly imitate the quack doctors by waving a box of pills and repeating their sales patter. She died of bronchitis in 1857 at the age of 75, but stories about her can still be heard to this day.
The statue you see today was erected in the 1980s by her great-great-great grandson Reg Peel and is also intended as a tribute to all working women. It is located on a grassy area where she stands overlooking the River Tyne.
Contributed by Simon Hawkins
Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue Pele tower up a remote hill or a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.
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