From Australia to Canada – they’re fascinated by the history of this Sunderland village

History with exciting twists is being brought to life by a society in the Wearside area.

Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 10:00 am
The Hastings family wedding from 1899.

The Whitburn Village Heritage Society is going strong and it is easy to see why.

This is a group which holds regular meetings with live entertainment.

The cover of the Whitburn Heritage.

The society also brings out its own journal once a quarter and it is filled with articles about Whitburn’s history.

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And if you want even more of a link to the past, the society has its own Facebook page with 1,600 members who are scattered in all corners of the world.

It’s quite a number and it is not hard to see why as the group is a great tribute to the area’s past.

Today, we take a look at the group with the help of its chairman and founder Brian Hastings.

An early photograph of fishermen's cottages at The Bents.

There’s plenty to praise about a group which has such an effect in the area.

Just look at the impact that Whitburn Village Heritage Society has had already.

It is a society which has been going strong for two years and has pulled in huge interest.

It holds regular meetings and the next is on Wednesday, February 20 at Whitburn Cricket Club.

It starts at 7.30pm and will include a performance by Bill Jones who is an acclaimed UK folk singer and winner of a BBC Folk Award.

This is strictly an all ticket event and they are available through Brian Hastings on (0191) 5292202. Get in touch soon, though, as they are selling fast.

Then, there’s the Facebook arm of the society.

It has 1,600 members and they are not just based locally. There’s members as far afield as Australia and Canada and Brian said: “It is wonderful and it is exciting.

“The page is somewhere for people to share old photographs of Whitburn and to have a discussion based around the photographs. We are discovering photos from far and wide and there are some we never dreamed we would see.

“We have unearthed many rare photographs of the area.”

Then, there’s the third arm which is the quarterly ‘Whitburn Heritage’ publication.

‘Whitburn Heritage’ is the journal which is filled with features and photographs about the village, edited and compiled by Brian.

He said: “The features are written in a selection of styles by a selection of people. Some are personal memories.”

It’s a 40-page read once every three months and it costs £5.

Brian told us: “It has a circulation of 500 copies.”

Anyone wanting a copy, said Brian, should find them available at key shops in the village as well as Whitburn Parish Church.

Brian himself is from a family which has connections with Whitburn going back more than 600 years.

He added: “You can trace us back to the 1400s. I have been interested in history from being a young boy and being encouraged by my teachers.

“I saw a big need to promote and research the history of the village.

“We have got a great team together of like-minded people which is wonderful and there is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm. We believe we have a great vision for Whitburn and we are doing everything we can to promote it.”

Brian shared some of the photographs of Whitburn’s past which show what a great village it is and that includes one of his own family’s weddings from 1899.

It shows his great great grandfather Nicholas Hastings, holding a baby, at the marriage of his daughter Frances Hastings.

We also have a very early photo of The Bents which Brian said “features very prominently in Whitburn’s history.”

They’re just two examples from a rich collection of photographic memories and if anyone wants to find out more, get in touch using the details at the bottom of the page.

There’s also another chance to learn more about Whitburn when Brian gives a talk to Sunderland Antiquarian Society on Tuesday, March 19.

It is titled The History Of Whitburn, 1700-1900 and will be held in the main hall at Thornhill School, starting at 7.30pm.

Doors open at 7pm and admission to the talk is £1 to Antiquarian Society members with a £2 cover charge for visitors.

In the meantime, to find out more about Whitburn Village Heritage Society, call Brian on (0191) 529 2202 or email him at