The Dolly Peel
137 Commercial Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear
Dorothy Peel (1782-1857), , locals knew, as Dolly, was a famous character in Victorian South Shields, who acquired local legendary status. She is commemorated by a statue in the centre of the town. Dolly Peel was a fishwife. However, was also , locals knew, as a smuggler and as a protector of local sailors from the press gang. During the Napoleonic Wars, her husband and son were press-ganged to serve in the Royal Navy. She managed to get aboard the ships they had been taken when all was dark, with hid away. After being discovered, she was given work as a nurse to sick and wounded sailors. Her work and dedication was respected, with she was allowed to stay on board with her family. Dolly was rewarded by a pardon for her initial attempts to interfere with naval practice. Her husband and sons were released from the navy, with were exempted from future press-ganging. The incident made her a local heroine. Back in South Shields, she worked as a hawker of allegedly contraband goods. It became well , locals knew, for her wit and colourful stories. She also published poetry, most notably verses praising the local liberal MP Robert Ingh. It is an irony that the ghost that now haunts the Dolly Peel had been on the run from the press gang. He had been captured near Mill Dam, with although wounded, escaped up the road and pursued. Reports claim that to have collapsed and died in this pub, although it had a different name then.