Hall of Fame : G-I

Famous people from North East England of the past and present


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 for his personal problems as for his extraordinary 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 Heighington and Newton Aycliffe. He has many TV acting credits and is a comedy actor as part of the League of Gentleman team. Screenwriter for Dr Who.

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. Writer of alternative lyrics to Geordie folk song Dance Ti’ Thy Daddy as theme tune for TV series When the Boat Comes In.

godricGodric of Finchale


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


Prolific Publisher


Sunderland-born publisher, writer, historian and international brigade soldier. As a young man and 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 mostly focused on Northumberland and Tyneside. His 387 titles included books on castles, and publications on Roman forts and Hadrian’s Wall brought to life with the illustrations of Robert Embleton, as well as reprints of historic books. Though his works were mostly scholarly, yet accessible, 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


Lifeboat Inventor


Inventor of the lifeboat 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.

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 Dudley Northumberland. Acting career includes roles in Soldier Soldier, Wire in the Blood, Casualty and Grantchester as well as a 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 I nventor of the Greenwell’s Glory fishing fly.

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, 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 two mps were elected by the owner of a ‘green mound and a well’.

billgriffithsBill Griffiths

1947 -2007

Dialect Discoveries


Poet, Anglo-Saxon scholar fluent in Old English, biker, 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. Countless TV roles including Pie in the Sky.

gullyJohn Gully


59 Rounds and Lost


Yorkshire-born champion boxer, Derby winning racehorse owner, Durham coal owner, Pontefract MP and father to 24 children. 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


Goal Guy Gurney


Footballer born 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 and based in Shildon in County Durham. Assisted the Stephensons with the building of Locomotion Number One (1825) and developed the Royal George locomotive (1827). 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


Hadaway and Write


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



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


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. When 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.

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.

hardwickGeorge Hardwick


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. Has a sports centre in Sunderland named after him. Held the European and Commonwealth featherweight titles.

havelockSir Henry Havelock


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 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 Black Velvet Gown, Spender and Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

healytimTim Healy

Born 1952

Acting the Part


Actor and Comedian. Became a household name playing Dennis Patterson in Auf Wiedersehen Pet 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 in Benidorm, Waterloo Road, Boys from the Bush.

hedleyralphRalph Hedley




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 locomotive. Born Newburn near Newcastle upon Tyne.

hemycharlesCharles Napier Hemy


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


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.


hepburnThomas Hepburn


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


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. Although his life and story is most closely associated with Yorkshire he retained a close connection with his birthplace as a keen supporter of Sunderland football club. TV and film versions of Wight’s work include All Creatures Great and Small and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet.

herschelWilliam Herschel


Songs and Stars


Famed German-born composer and astronomer who was a resident of Sunderland in the 1760s. Head of the Durham Militia band 1760–61.

heslopRichard Oliver Heslop


Northumberland Words


Newcastle-born historian, writer of Geordie songs and Northumberland/Tyneside dialect expert. 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. A boson is a kind of subatomic particle which can overlap – occupying the same point in space as each other. 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


Woman of Wisdom


Hild or Hilda, an influential Northumbrian saint who resided at Hartlepool and later Whitby was abbess of the monasteries at both place, 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 sought her advice.

hillMelanie Hill

Born 1962

Wearside Woman TV Star


Sunderland-born actress, Waterloo Road, Bread,  Playing the Field, The Syndicate and Cathy Matthews in Coronation Street as well as several other TV credits and a role in the movie Brassed Off. Educated 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. Presided over the funerals of the Felling mining disaster victims in 1812. Hodgson came up with  the name of the village of Wrekenton, now part of Tyneside and named from the local Roman road called the Wrekendike.

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 video Video Killed the Radio Star was the first video shown on MTV.  Horn has been called ‘The man who invented the eighties’.

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


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 at Newcastle’s Catholic cathedral near the Central Station.

huntershipbuilderSir George Burton Hunter




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.


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. Always Look on The Bright Side of Life.

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

are Border Reiver names, find out more


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