October 6, 2015 - Reported here. Sixty years ago, hundreds queued to see a religious statue in a Newcastle council flat which mysteriously began weeping. It's surely one of the strangest stories to appear on the pages of the Chronicle . It was October, 1955 - exactly 60 years ago - and these Tynesiders were queuing around the block to get a glimpse of a ‘miracle’.
Mr and Mrs Taylor, the tenants of the house in Walker, Newcastle, at the centre of all the attention had reported that their plaster statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus had begun to weep.
Once the news got out, hundreds eagerly descended on the house to see for themselves.
The tale began when Mrs Theresa Taylor glanced up at the small blue and white plaster figure of the Madonna and Child hanging over the fireplace in her humble home at Rochester Dwellings.
The housewife was amazed to see a tear in the statue’s eye roll slowly down the plaster cheek.
In those less worldly-wise times, the ‘miracle’ incident made the front page of the Chronicle.
The Taylors’ neighbour, Annie Frost, who went to see the phenomenon told us: “When I saw it I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe my eyes.”
Incredibly, next day, hundreds began queuing and hoping for a glimpse of the weeping Madonna.
The assembled throng included believers and sceptics, and came from all denominations. Some even wanted to pray before this Tyneside miracle. One woman told us: “I saw an eye open and then the Madonna wept.” Another touched the Madonna’s tear and rubbed it on the chest of her poorly three-year-old son. Mrs Taylor had bought the Madonna nine years earlier for 10 shillings on Newcastle Quayside. It hung in their previous home in Walker until a fire gutted the premises. Eerily, the Madonna was the only item saved. After the statue had been shedding tears for two days, it started to become a problem for the Taylors and their four children as visitors trooped through the house for hours on end.
Meanwhile postmen delivered letters, some with medallions inside, and requests for Mrs Taylor to press them against the Madonna. However, not everyone in the patient queue was motivated by religious fervour. Youths took to throwing fireworks, buckets of water, and stink bombs at the waiting crowd. One woman moaned: “The yobs made a mockery of it last night. It was like the Hoppings.” After several days, the situation came to the attention of the city council who ordered the Taylors to stop using their home for “exhibition purposes”.
The family locked their doors to visitors and eventually the hysteria began to die down. Rochester Dwellings, built in 1923 by Newcastle City Council, were pulled down many years ago after they fell into disrepair and the area became a no-go zone. The strange story, meanwhile, has been largely forgotten.