Our blind one-armed doorman – who was Sgt Hetherington?
The first half of the 20th century was a more formal age, and men and women were often referred to by their surnames, preceded by Mr, Miss or Mrs – or in the case of those who had served, their rank.
This presents an issue for us with our Historical Photographs Project when trying to identify people – particularly those with more popular surnames such as Smith or Brown.
We are currently trying to discover the first name(s) of a Sergeant Hetherington who was our doorman/gatekeeper for a number of years. He is featured in several of the photographs we have, including the two shown here. We know Hetherington had joined us by early 1917, if not before, and was with us until at least 1921. Our magazine, the Review, also tells us that he had served in the war with the Northumberland Fusiliers, where he took part in the Battle of Mons and then the Battle of the Marne. Here he lost his right arm.
In addition to his duties as a doorman Hetherington also sold copies of the Review to passing members of the general public and tickets for concerts which raised funds for our work. The Review said of him that ‘…he is altogether as useful as only an old soldier knows how to be.’ In addition to his other qualities, Sergeant Hetherington was also reported to be an expert in antiques and to be planning to work as a dealer when the time came for him to leave us.
Hetherington is a popular surname in the north east and as a result we have not been able to identify him from lists of those who served in the Northumberland Fusiliers. So if anybody knows anything more about a former Sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, a one-armed doorman or possibly an antiques dealer called Hetherington – including his first name! – we would be delighted to hear from you.