Hall of Fame : G-I

Famous people from North East England of the past and present

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Surnames beginning with:

A | B | C | D-F | G-I | J-M | N-Q | R | S | T-Z

garbuttVin Garbutt

Born 1947

Tees Folk

 

Folk singer and songwriter born South Bank, Teesside. Especially noted for his protest songs in the traditional mould of political folk singing. Garbutt has Irish roots and his noted songs include The Troubles about the political situation in Northern Ireland.

gascoignePaul Gascoigne

Born 1967

Football’s Great, Gazza

 

Gifted England, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough footballer known as ‘Gazza’ who was born at Dunston near Gateshead. Noted as much for his comic antics on and off the pitch and his personal problems as for his exceptional football skills.

gatissMark Gatiss

 Born 1966

Sherlock Creator

 

Sedgefield-born actor, comedian, screenwriter and novelist. Gatiss is the writer, co-creator and producer of the TV drama ‘Sherlock’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch in which Gatiss appears in the role of Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft. Raised in School Aycliffe, where his father worked in a psychiatric hospital opposite their home, Gatiss was educated in County Durham at Heighington and Newton Aycliffe. He has many TV acting credits and is a comedy actor as part of the League of Gentleman team. Gatiss is a also a screenwriter for Dr Who.

stevegibsonSteve Gibson OBE

Born 1958

Businessman and Football Chairman

 

Middlesbrough-born and raised millionaire businessman who became a Labour Councillor and successful businessman in his home town in his early twenties. His company, Bulkhaul Ltd was established in 1981 and now has offices worldwide. As a young man Gibson was a friend of Chris Kamara (see also) who is now a well-known sports presenter. Gibson was on the board of directors of Middlesbrough Football Cub from the age of 26, helped save the club from liquidation in 1986 and became the club chairman in 1994, overseeing the move to the club’s new Riverside Stadium from Ayresome Park in 1995. Brian Robson (see also) was the first manager appointed at Middlesbrough under Gibson’s regime.

gilroyJohn Gilroy

1898-1985

Guinness is Good For You

 

Whitley Bay-born and Durham University educated artist and illustrator famed for his iconic advertising posters that he designed for the Guinness brewery’s Irish stout. He developed the designs while working for the S.H.Benson advertising agency in London which he joined in 1925. The images often appeared on tin plate posters and featured animals such as sea lions, a toucan and occasionally a zoo keeper, sometimes accompanied by phrases like ‘Guinness is Good for You’ , ‘Guinness for Strength’ and ‘My Goodness My Guinness’.

guinness

glasgowAlex Glasgow

1935 – 2001

Geordie Folk Songs

 

Low Fell-born singer songwriter and scriptwriter. Wrote songs and music for Alan Plater’s Close the Coal House Door. He was the writer of alternative lyrics to Geordie folk song Dance Ti’ Thy Daddy as the theme tune for TV series When the Boat Comes In.

godricGodric of Finchale

c1065-1170

Pirate, Saint and Hermit

 

Often known as St Godric,  Godric of Finchale was a former sea pirate and pedlar who became a hermit. He was born in Walpole, Norfolk and spent much of his early life at sea. He is said to have encountered a magical vision of St Cuthbert on a visit to Lindisfarne and decided to pursue the life of a hermit, residing for a time at Wolsingham in Weardale. He persuaded the Bishop of Durham, Ranulf Flambard to grant him land on the banks of the River Wear at Finchale north of Durham City. Here he would stand for long periods naked in the river with the water up to his neck and beat himself with bushes as a kind of penance. He lived to the grand age of 105 so it did not seem to do him any harm. A monastery affiliated to Durham was built at Finchale after Godric’s death.

English Heritage : Finchale Priory

frankgrahamFrank Graham

1913-2006

Prolific Publisher

 

Sunderland-born publisher, writer, historian and international brigade soldier. As a young man and staunch Communist he fought against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War where he was wounded. In the 1950s Graham began publishing and writing books on North East history mainly focused on Northumberland and Tyneside. His 387 titles included books on castles, and publications on Roman forts and Hadrian’s Wall which was brought to life with the illustrations of Robert Embleton, as well as reprints of historic books. Graham’s works were mostly scholarly, yet accessible, although his best seller as a publisher was the light-hearted Larn Yersel’ Geordie by Scott Dobson.

graingertRichard Grainger

1797 -1861

Grainger Town Man

 

The son of a Quayside porter, Grainger was a Newcastle builder who transformed the landscape and central focus of Newcastle upon Tyne with developments that included  Eldon Square,  Blackett Street, Leazes Terrace, Leazes Crescent, Leazes Place, Grey Street, Grainger Street and Clayton Street.  Saved from virtual bankruptcy by Newcastle Town Clerk, John Clayton, Grainger never reaped the financial rewards to match the scale of his developments and retired as a man of relatively modest means.

Grey's Monument Newcastle

greatheadHenry Greathead

1757-1818

Inventor of the Lifeboat

 

Inventor of the lifeboat who was born in Richmond, North Yorkshire and raised in South Shields. Fellow lifeboat designer William Wouldhave (1751-1821) of North Shields should also be acknowledged and should probably receive much of the credit for the lifeboat’s development.

Lifeboat South Shields

greenBenjamin Green

1811 -1858

The Monuments Men

 

Northumberland architect who worked alongside his father John Green (1787-1852). Their work includes Newcastle Theatre Royal, Grey’s Monument and Penshaw Monument.

greenrobsonRobson Green

Born 1964

Big Fish from a Grand County

 

Actor, TV presenter and extreme fisherman, born in Dudley Northumberland. His acting career includes roles in Soldier Soldier, Wire in the Blood, Casualty and Grantchester as well as being the TV presenter of Extreme Fishing and Tales from Northumberland which highlights the wonderful features of his home county. In the 1990s he was a number one selling singing artist in a duo with fellow actor Jerome Flynn.

greenwellCanon William Greenwell

1820 -1918

Greenwell’s Glory

 

Noted antiquarian, archaeologist, Durham Cathedral canon and angler from Lanchester in County Durham. Though he was a highly esteemed and respected antiquarian he is perhaps best-known as the inventor of the Greenwell’s Glory fishing fly.

greggsJohn Robson Gregg

1909-1964

Baker

 

Known as Jack Gregg, John Robson Gregg was the founder of the Greggs bakery business which has outlets all over the United Kingdom. Gregg was born in Newcastle upon Tyne’s Canada Street and joined the family egg and yeast business, often selling the produce from his bicycle. After inheriting the business from his father in the 1930s he established a bakery in 1938. The first Greggs shop opened in 1951 in the High Street of Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. Expansion began in the 1970s and today Gregg has outlets in more than a thousand locations across the United Kingdom.

greyCharles Grey (the Second Earl Grey)

1764 -1845

Tea Man Prime Minster

 

Northumberland-born British Prime Minister and Whig party member. Remembered for Earl Grey Tea (his favourite kind of tea), for the Great Reform Act of 1832 and by the famous monument in Newcastle city centre. Grey’s Reform Bill was a major step in democracy as it gave MPs  to large towns like Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds that previously had no parliamentary representation and abolished Rotten Boroughs’, such as  Old Sarum in Wiltshire, where virtually no one lived and where two MPs were elected by the owner of a ‘green mound and a well’.

billgriffithsBill Griffiths

1947 -2007

Dialect Discoveries

 

Poet, Anglo-Saxon scholar who was fluent in Old English, a biker and one time Hell’s Angel. A writer and expert on North East dialect. Born in Middlesex, in his later years he lived in Seaham and worked at the University of Northumbria’s Centre for Northern Studies. Widely published as a poet, in the North East he is principally known for his work on the region’s dialect. Publications include: North East Dialect: Survey and Word List, A Dictionary of North East Dialect, Pitmatic : The Talk of the North East Coalfield.

griffithsRichard Griffiths

1948 -2013

Familiar Face

 

Actor born Thornaby-on-Tees, the son of a Teesside steelworker. Movie appearances include Gandhi, Withnail and I, The Naked Gun Two and Half, The History Boys, Pirates of the Caribbean and as Victor Dursley in the Harry Potter films. His countless TV roles included the lead role in Pie in the Sky.

gullyJohn Gully

1783-1863

59 Rounds and Lost

 

Yorkshire-born champion boxer, Derby winning racehorse owner, Durham coal owner, Pontefract MP and father to 24 children. He lived near Durham Cathedral in Durham City and at Cocken, County Durham. As a boxer he once went 59 rounds with Henry ‘the Game Chicken’ Pearce and lost.

gurneyBobby Gurney

1907-1994

Goal Guy Gurney

 

Footballer born in Silksworth, Sunderland, Gurney is the all time highest goalscorer for his home town club with 204 goals in 348 appearances.

hackworthTimothy Hackworth

1786 -1850

Railway Trialist

 

Steam locomotive engineer born in Wylam, Northumberland who was based at Shildon in County Durham. Hackworth assisted the Stephensons with the building of Locomotion Number One (1825) and developed the Royal George locomotive (1827). He constructed the Sans Pareil locomotive for the Rainhill Trials which competed against Stephenson’s Rocket. The Sans Pareil can be seen in the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

National Railway Museum Shildon

hadawayTom Hadaway

1923-2005

Hadaway and Write

 

North Shields-born TV scriptwriter and playwright. Scriptwriter for some episodes of When the Boat Comes In. Hadaway worked extensively with Amber Films and Newcastle’s Live Theatre Company working with many well-known North East actors who performed his scripts. Noted for his Prison Plays edited by Val McLane.

hadrianHadrian

76AD-138AD

Emperor of Rome

 

Born near Seville in what is now Spain but then part of the Roman Empire, Hadrian whose full name was Publius Aelius Hadrianus became Emperor of Rome in 117AD. Pons Aelius (Bridge Aelius), the Roman fort at Newcastle upon Tyne  which formed part of Hadrian’s Wall’s defences commemorated Hadrian’s family name. The year 122AD is given as the date at which Hadrian’s Wall was commenced by the Romans to Hadrian’s orders in the hope of containing and delimiting the northern frontier of his Empire. The Roman wall may have already been planned before this date but it was in 122AD that Hadrian visited Britain. We cannot be certain he ever visited the frontier zone in which the famous wall that bears his name was built or that he even stepped foot within the land we now call North East England, but Hadrian has left an indelible mark on the region’s history.

halfpennyJill Halfpenny

Born 1975

Many roles to play

 

Gateshead-born actress who grew up in the Wrekenton and Leam Lane area.  As a youngster she appeared in Byker Grove with later TV work as an adult including major roles in Coronation Street, Eastenders, Waterloo Road and Peak Practice. She was the winner of the second series of Strictly Come Dancing.

hallsirjohnSir John Hall

1933

Making the MetroCentre

 

North Seaton, Ashington-born businessman and former Chairman Newcastle United. Principally known for building the MetroCentre shopping mall through his company Cameron Hall Developments. The son of a miner, Hall started out as a mining surveyor. As owner of Newcastle United he appointed Kevin Keegan as a manager which was a major turning point in the club’s fortunes. He is the Life President of Newcastle United FC.

hallLee Hall

Born 1966

Billy Elliot’s Tale

 

English playwright and screenwriter from Newcastle best known for the movie Billy Elliot (2000). The story was partly inspired by baritone singer Thomas Allen (see also) and the A.J Cronin novel The Stars Look Down.

hancockmuseumbrosAlbany and John Hancock

1806-1873 and 1808-1890

Museum Brothers

 

Newcastle born brothers and naturalists who helped establish the city’s Hancock Museum (now the Great North Museum) which opened in 1884. The older brother, Albany Hancock (1806-1873 and pictured on the left) was a noted biologist and supporter of Darwin. He was known for his study of marine animals and fossils from the region’s coal measures. John Hancock was a biologist and skilled taxidermist as well as a landscape architect who was partly responsible for the layout of Newcastle’s Town Moor. Both men were educated at Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School and lived in St Mary’s Terrace, Newcastle along with their sister, Mary Jane.

hancockbrothersStephen and Christopher Hancock

1925-2015 and 1928-2004

Soap Acting Brothers

 

Bishop Auckland-born brothers who played memorable roles in two of Britain’s most popular TV soaps. Stephen Hancock (1925-2015 pictured left) was educated at Durham Chorister School and Darlington Grammar School. He played the character Ernie Bishop, the husband of Emily Bishop, in Coronation Street from 1969 until his character was killed off in a fatal shooting at Mike Baldwin’s factory in 1978. Stephen’s brother, Christopher Hancock (1928-2004) played the role of conman Charlie Cotton, the husband of Dot Cotton and father to Nick Cotton in EastEnders from 1986 to 1990. In addition to his EastEnders role Hancock played several other roles in theatre and TV.

domestoscleanerWilliam Handley

Inventor of Domestos

in 1929

 

A Newcastle dental mechanic and chemist, William Handley developed the household cleaner, Domestos in his garden shed at Byker in 1929. He purchased Sodium Hypochlorite from the ICI chemical works at Billingham for creating his product. It was sold by salesmen who travelled door to door on bicycles selling to housewives in stoneware jars. Domestos was sold as a product for whitening cotton, cleaning household surfaces and drains. The advertising slogan “kills all known germs dead” was introduced in the early 1950s and in 1961 the product was acquired by Lever Brothers – now Unilever.

harbuttWilliam Harbutt

1844-1921

Inventor of Plasticine

 

Born in North Shields, William Harbutt was an artist who is best remembered as the inventor of plasticine. An associate of the Royal College of Art, Harbutt was trained in London and became the headmaster of the Bath School of Art in the 1870s. It was in Bath that Harbutt developed, in 1897, the non-drying clay called ‘Plasticine’ for use by his students and its manufacture commenced in 1900 after a patent was obtained. Harbutt died of pneumonia on a trip to New York in 1921.

hardwickcCharlie Hardwick

Born 1960

Emmerdale’s Val

 

Wallsend-born actress. Best-known for playing Val Pollard in the TV soap Emmerdale. Played the mother of Duncan (Declan Donnelly) in Byker Grove. Movie appearances in Purely Belter and Billy Elliot. Charlie is a regular member of the team of Geordie actors and entertainers who perform in the biennial Sunday for Sammy event in commemoration of fellow Tyneside actor Sammy Johnson (see).

hardwickGeorge Hardwick

1920-2004

Football Star

 

Footballer and manager of England, Sunderland, the Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven. Born Saltburn-by-the-Sea, he made 143 appearances for Middlesbrough as a footballer.

hardyBilly Hardy

Born 1964

 

Wearside Boxer

Sunderland-born Bantamweight and Featherweight boxing champion. There is a sports centre in Sunderland named after him. Hardy held the European and Commonwealth Featherweight titles.

havelockSir Henry Havelock

1795-1857

Hero of Lucknow

 

Sunderland-born Major General and son of a wealthy shipbuilder. Considered a hero for his part in the recovery of Cawnpore during the Indian Mutiny. Havelock recaptured Lucknow but died of dysentery while it came under siege. Towns in the USA, Canada and New Zealand are named after Havelock as well as dozens of streets and pubs in Britain. Today the Indian Mutiny is seen as the avoidable result of British ignorance and disrespect for Indian traditions.

healybBrendan Healy

1956 -2016

Happiness and Hilarity

 

Much-loved Newcastle-born stand-up comedian, actor and musician. Educated at St Cuthbert’s Grammar School, Newcastle and Newcastle College of Arts. A keyboard player, he performed as a musician with Lindisfarne and Goldie. TV roles included appearances in Catherine Cookson’s The Black Velvet Gown, Spender and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

healytimTim Healy

Born 1952

Actor

 

Actor and Comedian. Became a household name playing Dennis Patterson in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet he also appeared in The World Cup a Captain’s Tale about the extraordinary world cup winning achievement of amateur football side West Auckland. Actor with Newcastle’s Live Theatre. TV roles include Benidorm, Waterloo Road, Boys from the Bush. He was formerly the husband of Denise Welch.

hedleyralphRalph Hedley

1848-1913

Painter

 

Painter, woodcarver and illustrator born near Richmond, North Yorkshire and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne.

hedleyWilliam Hedley

1779 -1843

Puffing Billy Billy

 

Railway engineer of Wylam who built the Puffing Billy and Wylam Dilly locomotives. Born Newburn near Newcastle upon Tyne.

hemycharlesCharles Napier Hemy

1841-1917

Seascape Painter

 

Newcastle-born marine artist. Associate of The Royal Academy. His most renowned marine paintings are part of the Tate Collection.

hemythomasThomas Madawaska Hemy

1852-1937

Football Painting

 

Born on a ship between England and Australia. Later residing in Newcastle upon Tyne. Marine artist and younger brother of the more accomplished Charles Napier Hemy. Thomas is principally known for his 1895 painting of Sunderland v Aston Villa, the oldest painting of association football which hangs in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.

hemyfootball

hepburnThomas Hepburn

c1795-1864

Uniting the Miners

 

English trade unionist, born Pelton near Chester-le-Street in County Durham. Established ‘The Colliers of the United Association of Durham and Northumberland’ trade union.

herriotJames Herriot

1916-1995

It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet

 

Sunderland-born writer and vet (real name Alf Wight) famous for his semi-autobiographical novels about the life of a Yorkshire vet.  TV and film versions of Wight’s work include All Creatures Great and Small and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet. Although his life and story is most closely associated with Yorkshire and he was raised in Glasgow Herriot retained a close connection with his birthplace as a keen supporter, like his shipyard worker father before him, of Sunderland football club and was appointed the club’s Life President in 1992.

herschelWilliam Herschel

1738-1822

Composer who discovered Uranus

 

Famed German-born British composer and astronomer who was a resident of Sunderland in the 1760s during which time he was the head of the Durham Militia band 1760–61. In 1781 Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, the first planet to be discovered since ancient times. Herschel was subsequently appointed Court Astronomer by King George III.

heslopRichard Oliver Heslop

1842-1916

Northumberland Words

 

Newcastle-born historian, writer of Geordie songs and Northumberland/Tyneside dialect expert. He was the joint owner of an iron merchants and engineering business in Newcastle’s Sandhill. His two-volume dialect dictionary entitled Northumberland Words was published in the 1890s. It was initially serialised in the Chronicle newspaper.

higgsPeter Higgs

Born 1929

The Higgs Boson Particle

 

Newcastle-born (Elswick) Nobel Prize Laureate theoretical physicist of ‘Higgs Boson’ particle fame. Bosons are a kind of subatomic particle and can overlap each other – occupying the same point in space. When bosons clump together they form a field (the Higgs Field). Without this field there would be no mass and no atoms. The particles are named from Higgs because he predicted their existence and they became an important aspect of theoretical physics, eventually proven by the Large Hadron Collider (particle collider) near Geneva in Switzerland in 2012-13.

hildaSaint Hild

614-680AD

Woman of Wisdom

 

Hild or Hilda, was an influential Northumbrian saint who resided at Hartlepool and later Whitby. She was successively the abbess of the monasteries at both places, being the second abbess of Hartlepool and the founding abbess of Whitby. Brought up at the court of King Edwin of Northumbria, Hild was noted for her wisdom and the kings of Northumbria often sought her advice.

hillMelanie Hill

Born 1962

Wearside Woman TV Star

 

Sunderland-born actress known for Waterloo Road, Bread, Playing the Field, The Syndicate and for playing the role of Cathy Matthews in Coronation Street as well as several other TV credits and a role in the movie Brassed Off. She was educated at Monkwearmouth School and RADA. Although she is extremely proud of her North East roots, Hill is perhaps best-known for playing the role of Aveline in the Liverpool sit-com Bread.  She was formerly married to the actor Sean Bean.

hodgsonRev John Hodgson

1779 -1845

A Man of History

 

Clergyman at Heworth, antiquarian, mine safety campaigner and author of the classic History of Northumberland. Hodgson presided over the funerals of the Felling mining disaster victims in 1812. He came up with  the name of the village of Wrekenton, now part of Tyneside which he named from the local Roman road called the Wrekendike.

switchJohn Henry Holmes

1857-1935

Inventor of the Light Switch

 

Newcastle electrical engineer, noted for making dynamos and motors. He  invented the quick break electrical switch in 1884. All modern wall-mounted light switches are still based on the principal of his invention. The first switches were manufactured by Holmes’ Newcastle-based motor and dynamo business which he established at Shieldfield in 1883.

hornTrevor Horn

Born 1949

Inventor of the Eighties

 

Durham born and Houghton-le-Spring raised record producer, songwriter, musician and singer. He was the singer with Buggles whose music video called Video Killed the Radio Star was the first video shown on MTV.  Horn has been called ‘The man who invented the eighties’.

hudsonGeorge Hudson

1800-1871

The Railway King

 

George Hudson was a Yorkshire-born MP for Sunderland, known as ‘the Railway King’. Born near York, Hudson was a wealthy banker who invested heavily in the development of the railway network across England with the work often undertaken by George Stephenson. Hudson was the MP for Sunderland from 1845 to 1859 and is remembered in the name of Sunderland’s Hudson Dock. He came to control a significant portion of Britain’s rail network but was engaged in fraudulent business activities. When he lost his Sunderland seat he lost the protection that being an MP gave him and he went into exile before his eventual arrest and imprisonment.

hullAlan Hull

1945 – 1995

Run for Home

 

Singer-songwriter and founder of North East rock group Lindisfarne. Born Benwell, Newcastle. Fog on the Tyne, Meet me on the Corner, Lady Eleanor and Run for Home are among the band’s classic songs.

hume.Cardinal Basil Hume

1923-1999

Spirtual Leader

 

Roman Catholic cardinal and bishop, who as Archbishop of Westminster was head of the Catholic church in England and Wales. Born Newcastle upon Tyne. A prominent statue can be seen of Hume outside Newcastle’s Catholic cathedral near the Central Station.

huntershipbuilderSir George Burton Hunter

1845-1937

Shipbuilder

 

Sunderland-born shipbuilder. Started as a shipbuilding apprentice to his Wearside cousin William Pile. After a partnership with Sunderland shipbuilder C.P Austin, Hunter moved to Tyneside forming a partnership with the widow of Wallsend shipbuilder Charles S. Swan to form the famed Swan Hunter shipbuilders.

idaKing Ida of Bernicia

Lived 6th century AD

Founder of a Kingdom

 

The first king of Bernicia, the North East based kingdom that would later merge with Deira to become the Kingdom of Northumbria. Ida, a pagan, was an Angle whose people hailed from an area now on the borders of Denmark and Germany. He captured the Celtic coastal fortress of Din Guarie (Bamburgh) from the native Britons in 547AD and made it his capital. He has sometimes been referred to by historians as Ida the Flameberarer.

Bamburgh

idleEric Idle

Born 1943

Monty Python Man

 

Comedian, actor, songwriter of Monty Python fame. He was born at Harton, South Shields to which his mother had been evacuated from the North West during the Second World War. One of his best-known contributions to Monty Python was as the singer of Always Look on The Bright Side of Life.

A | B | C | D-F | G-I | J-M | N-Q | R | S | T-Z

 

The surnames Graham, Hall, Hedley, Hepburn, Hodgson and Hume

are Border Reiver names, find out more

 

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