'It’s lovely to know he was born in my house' - James Herriot’s Wearside birthplace confirmed ‘once and for all’

The exact birthplace in Sunderland of best-selling author and famous vet ‘James Herriot’ has been agreed upon once and for all.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 11:10 am

The All Creatures Great and Small creator, whose real name Alf Wight, was born on October 3, 1916 at what biographers say, correctly, was 111 Brandling Street, Roker.

However the house numbers changed and 111 became 22 in November 1967. For added confusion it was also number 98 for a time and what is now 111 was part of a different street in 1916.

But the house has always had the name Fashoda. Julie Graham has lived there since 1998 and, with Fashoda as a clue, conducted some research. The deeds prove that the house number changed.

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Julie Graham has lived in the house where James Herriot was born since 1998. Picture by Stu Norton.

Enquiries by the Echo led to a neighbour, now in her 80s, who was born in the nearby house she still lives in. She confirmed that 22 had indeed been 111.

A delighted Julie said: “I found out James Herriot was born in the street and became curious. So I bought the book which said 111. A neighbour told us that the numbers had changed.

“I’m an animal lover too which makes it extra special. He’s such a significant figure and it’s lovely to know that he was born in my house.”

James Herriot, right, was born in Roker in 1916 and was a Sunderland AFC fanatic.

Herriot’s son Jim Wight, himself a retired vet, told the Echo: “I knew he was born at 111 and I’m interested to see how much history is in this one street. It seems the numbers changed after some of the houses were bombed.

“My father worked in a practice in Sunderland in 1940. He was treating a cow in a field for milk fever one day and had to hide in a barn to escape German bombs.

“His home in Glasgow was bombed too. He was so annoyed that he joined the RAF.”

The Wight family had moved to Glasgow by 1916, but Alf’s mother Hannah insisted on returning to her Sunderland family home to give birth.

The house is called Fashoda, which was a diplomatic incident in 1898 in East Aftrica between Britain and France.

James/Alf lived most of his life in Thirsk, but frequently visited Sunderland; usually to watch his beloved football team. He was made SAFC Life President in 1992. He died in 1995.

Strangely the house has no blue plaque. But Herriot fans will be pleased to learn there are plans to rectify this.

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Julie Graham lives in Brandling Street, in the house where world famous author James Herriot was born. Picture by Stu Norton.