Charlie Hurley, Nancy Revell, Ida Cook - they're all in a new tribute to 120 famous Sunderland people

From Dave Stewart to Charlie Hurley – a Sunderland historian and author has paid tribute to 120 famous Wearside people.

Saturday, 16th April 2022, 12:44 pm

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Trevor Thorne has studied the lives of the famous and infamous with connections to Sunderland.

And he has put it all in a new book called Noteworthy Sunderland People which includes actors, sports heroes, musicians, shipbuilders as well as ‘one or two less reputable individuals’.

Trevor said: “It covers those who have made a contribution to either local or national life, having been born or lived in the city.”

Some of the notable Wearside names to feature in a new book from Trevor Thorne.

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The £9.99 book was a project during the pandemic and Trevor added: “It was written in lockdown when accessing libraries and history resources was not


"It looks at the full range of subjects from the Venerable Bede through to John and Irene Hays the travel agents. Also included are shipbuilders, actors, musicians, sportspeople and also one or two less reputable individuals.”

His inspiration came from a former editor of The Sunderland Times Newspaper called William Brockie. Trevor said: “In 1894 he produced a book called

Music star Dave Stewart is another of the famous people to be included in Trevor's new book.

Sunderland Notables about the lives of some of the best-known local personalities of the time.”

Trevor’s tribute includes Dave Stewart, Charlie Hurley, Sir Henry Havelock and Nancy Revell. There are also some less well-known names such as the first Mayor Andrew White, the painter Stuart Henry Bell, and the international contralto singer Muriel Foster.

And then there is William Reid Clanny who was born in Northern Ireland and, after qualifying as a doctor, went to sea as a naval surgeon.

Charlie Hurley - the Black Cats hero who features in the new book.

During his time in the navy, he took part in the Battle of the Baltic (fought to prevent the Danish Navy from joining Napoleonic France) and after leaving the

navy, aged 29, he came to Sunderland to practise medicine.

Clanny’s fame came after two pit disasters, one at Herrington where there were 24 deaths and another in Felling. Both were caused by explosins.


Amanda Revel Walton who writes as Nancy Revell with her Shipyard Girls series of books.

Trevor said: “Clanny set about inventing a lamp to safely give out light underground where previously bare candles had been used. He produced a paper - On Means of Producing a Steady Light in Coal Mines Without Danger of Explosion.

"His initial design incorporated a candle encased in glass with a trough underneath containing water and air over which water was passed by means of a bellow.

"This first version was cumbersome and Clanny worked at reducing the weight of the lamp. Tests were held at Herrington pit which was particularly

susceptible to fire and explosion.

“The local coal owners were so delighted with the invention that they presented Clanny with gold coins and a silver salver at the Atheneum in Fawcett Street. George Stephenson acknowledged a debt to his research (the railway engineer was also interested in the subject).

“A visit to Clanny by Humphry Davy, the inventor of the better-known Davy Lamp, probably influenced its ultimate design.”

The book, which is in colour, is available at Sunderland Museum, Waterstones, Clay’s Nursery, Haswell’s Farmshop and Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

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