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Thomas Hutchinson and his Wonderful Book Collection

Thomas Hutchinson collected over 2,500 books in 25 years. Image courtesy of Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

In this blog we are exploring a beautiful collection of books that was donated to Preston Park Museum and Grounds in the 1970s. Collected by one man over 25 years, the collection spans over 2,500 books of various literary works. Thomas Hutchinson’s collections includes rare first editions, beautiful examples of poetry, historical and political volumes, and many works by local, Tyneside born authors.

Thomas Hutchinson’s collection was the passion of his life. Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1856 he joined a teacher training program in 1877 and secured a job working in a primary school in the mining village of Pegswood near Morpeth. He settled into this position and lived with his wife Sarah in the village, where they started a family.

Two years after joining Pegswood First School he was appointed headmaster. Thomas was known as ‘Hutch’ to his pupils and the children he taught came from different social situations. Most of his pupils were the children of the local miners, but many moved around leading Thomas to develop just one bit of advice he instilled into his pupils – ‘That whatever is worth doing is worth doing well’


Thomas Hutchinson posing in a school group photograph at Pegswood First School in 1921. Image courtesy of Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

Other than his love of teaching his biggest passion in life was that of his book collection which he built up over 25 years. He had a keen eye for collecting first and early editions of famous authors from the early 1700s and 1800s. Thomas was incredibly passionate about the local works of Newcastle authors and poets and compiled a unique collection of Victorian songs and poems of well-known Tyneside creatives like J.P. Robson, who published works featuring the Geordie dialect.

Thomas collected many works written in the Geordie dialect and they even inspired him to write and publish his own work. Over the course of his life, he published five pieces of literature which are included in his fascinating collection. Thomas stayed at the Pegswood First School his entire working life and is thought to have paid tribute to some of his students in his last piece of work, ‘Jolts and Jingles: A Book of Poems for Young People’, naming chapters after former pupils.

Let page reads: Jolts and Jungles; A book of poems for young people by Thomas Hutchinson. Sing on! Sing on! let the dull world grow young by the Burden of Itys. The left page contains the following poem - MY FORST JOURNEY IN THE TRAIN I remember, I remember, When aught touches Memorys springs, With what pleasure I looke'd forward. Borne on Hope's exultant wings, To the time that day to day drew near - Tho' oft did I complain Of its slow approach - when I should take My first journey in the train I remember, I remember, How afraid I was at first, As the screeching locomotive Right into the station burst; How, at last, into a carriage Jump'd I, tho' to stay out fain Wishing to postpone a few more hours My first journey in the train

The Thomas Hutchinson Collection includes his own work, ‘Jolts and Jingles: A Book of Poems for Young People’. Only sixty copies of this book were ever produced! Image courtesy of Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

Thomas retired from Pegswood in 1921, after seeing many pupils pass through his school. He never lost sight of helping those less fortunate than himself and was deeply cared for in his community. He continued writing until his death in 1938. Hutchinson’s love of books is still evident in the inventory he kept, and the dedications written in the front pages of some books written by his Tyneside writing circle. His much-loved collection was donated to Preston Park Museum in the 1970s and it’s a beautiful resource for every book lover.


Three books piled upon one of each other. The one on top is a dirty cream colour with a large bird on the front

Examples of books in the Thomas Hutchinson collection. Image courtesy of Preston Park Museum and Grounds.