Wearside Echoes: A riverside village lost to history

North Hylton
North Hylton
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A “FORGOTTEN” Wearside village will soon be back on the map.

South Hylton Local History Society is to include vintage photos and information about North Hylton on its website for the first time – to boost recognition of the village’s historical importance.

“There appears to have been very little written about North Hylton, despite the fact that it was once a thriving industrial community,” said Douglas Scrafton, honorary secretary of the group.

“I don’t believe I have ever come across a book devoted entirely to the village, nor is there very much on the internet about it. We believe North Hylton deserves greater recognition.”

The village of North Hylton grew up around the river crossing operated by the Lords of Hilton from at least the 14th century. Horses, carriages and oxen were all regular ferry passengers.

Riverside traders jostled for space alongside shipbuilders, farmers and industrial outlets by the 18th century, and census records show the community had a thriving population of almost 500 by 1872.

Today, however, just a few houses and The Shipwrights – a former 17th century coaching inn and one of Sunderland’s oldest pubs – remain of the once-bustling community.

“About eight years or so ago, during one of our major exhibitions, we were asked if we could include North Hylton as part of our collection on South Hylton,” said Doug.

“At the time we had very, very little information about our neighbour on the other side of the river, and very few photographs, so we decided put the idea on hold it hold – until now.”

Society members have now launched an appeal for old pictures and anecdotes about North Hylton, to add to their website, and are keen to hear from anyone with information.

“We would welcome anything whatsoever,” said Doug. “Photos of people, buildings, landscapes or events would all help add to our knowledge of the village, as would historical information.

“North Hylton was once home to a diverse range of industries, such as a cement works, ship yards and soap factory, as well as dozens of houses, shops and pubs. Now it has all but disappeared.

“I’ve heard a great many stories and anecdotes about the village over the years, but now is the time to start getting it all down in writing – and on to the society’s website for all to read and see.”

Doug is particularly keen to learn more about Hylton Grange Manor House, also known as the Mansion – which was home to an early aircraft inventor and reportedly had a Regency ghost.

“North Hylton is a place with a lot of history, and deserves far more attention than it gets at present,” he concluded.

** People with memories to share about North Hylton can contact Doug on 534 4251 or by email at: south.hyltonlhs@ntlworld.com Look out for more North Hylton photos next Saturday.

Sidebar: North Hylton facts, figures and anecdotes

** Hylton was an important river crossing, controlled on both river banks by the Lord of Hylton.

** A ferry carrying horses, carriages and oxen is known to have been in operation by 1322.

** Fisheries were constructed at the lower end of Hylton, below Burgh Knoll, in the 1440s.

** North Hylton was a village of 78 houses and a population of 487 in 1872.

** The village was part of the ancient parish of Bishopwearmouth in the 19th century.

** A ghost in Regency dress was said to haunt North Hylton Grange until its demolition in 1949.

** Dr George Welford died at the Grange in 1904. His son Robert and wife Mary took it over.

** Robert patented the Welford Monoplane in 1910, building the flying machine with his sons.

** Ship building, iron and chemical works were the major Victorian industries, as well as farming.

** Squire Robert Reay was an early North Hylton ship builder. He was working in the 1790s.

** People pulling bodies from the Wear were paid more to land them at North than South Hylton.

** W. Grimshaw and Sons ran the Wear Works cement works in the late 19th century.

** The Shipwrights pub dates to the 17th century and was once the haunt of press gangs.

** At low tide the slipway from where ships were built and launched can still be seen.

** The ghost coach of Lord Ettrick was said to haunt the country lane now known as the A1231.