Bible lost for 50 years reunited with family

A Victorian family Bible was returned to its rightful owner last Friday, 50 years after he had last seen it.

The 150-year-old book had been discovered by Julia Gillespie, who was able to trace the family it belonged to after an appeal we published in the Gazette a fortnight ago.

Julia Gillespie has reunited David Shackleton with his Victorian family Bible'w142105b'Picture by Gary Simpson

Julia Gillespie has reunited David Shackleton with his Victorian family Bible'w142105b'Picture by Gary Simpson

The Bible features information about the Shackleton family of Stainsacre and was discovered in the airing cupboard of a Brunswick Terrace home 20 years ago.

After we ran a small item in the Gazette recently, we were contacted by David and Ann Shackleton, who said they believed the Bible belonged to their family.

Last Friday Julia travelled to the Gazette’s offices on Bridge Street, where she was able to reunite the Bible with its owner.

“I am a bit nervous about seeing it actually,” explained 80-year-old David Shackleton as he unwrapped the book. “The last time I saw this was when we got married, 50 years ago,”

It was found by electrician Paul Gillespie who was helping to renovate a building on Brunswick Terrace into flats and managed to save the Bible from being thrown into a skip.

Unable to trace the owner, the Bible has sat in the garage of Julia’s home in Bowburn, County Durham, for the last 20 years.

She explained why she finally made the effort and contacted the Gazette for help: “I felt it was so personal to them that I couldn’t have moved house again and taken it with me because I thought another generation is going to come along and not know who these people are.”

Tucked within the pages of the Bible are various family photographs, letters and the death certificate of David’s father, Louis, who died almost 70 years ago.

Jotted on spare pages at either end of the book are dates marking the birth of each family member. Among the most recent names are five brothers, of which David was the second youngest.

The earliest name recorded is that of William Shackleton, who has gone down in history as the first photographer to ever work in Bradford. He is also a renowned artist and the Bible records his birth in 1872.

Now living in Snainton, near Scarborough, David explained how his father was a clerk for the Ministry of Food and the family lived in Stainsacre.

The Bible had been handed down to his father and David remembers it being stored in an old Victorian wash stand which was situated in the bathroom.

“When you are young you don’t take any notice of these sort of things, it’s very interesting,” David added.

The birth of his mother, Ada, in 1902 is also noted. She was raised on Grange Farm in Hawsker.

David and his wife Ann are cabinet makers with a keen interest in antiques, but admitted that to anyone other than the family, the Bible has little value.

Ann added: “It’s only relevant to the people in the book, so to us it’s priceless.”

County council support worker Julia said she was especially keen to return the Bible to its rightful home as her own family Bible had been lost in a house fire and she was aware of the significance the books used to have for families.

She said: “I think the church records and the family Bibles were the best way of recording important dates, so I didn’t want to move house again without returning it to its rightful home.”

Now set to become a great-grandfather himself, David said the Bible will once again become a family heirloom.