A spotlight on the SAFC chairman who spearheaded the Team Of All The Talents

A new Sunderland book has spotlighted more than 20 men and women who lived across two centuries in two famous Roker buildings.

Saturday, 10th August 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 10th August 2019, 9:00 am
John Potts Henderson and Sunderland officials and players, in May 1895, outside Peareth.

Author and historian Bill Greenwell put the focus on Rock Lodge which was built in the 1790s, and Peareth which was built on Rock Lodge’s land in the late 1880s.

Its residents included a former Sunderland AFC chairman who was at the helm when the Team Of All The Talents represented the club.

Bill describes the book as the gift that keeps on giving.

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Rock Lodge and Peareth in 1932.

“It grew and grew, and now it’s 185,000 words and 420 pages long,” he said.

“When Rock Lodge was built, Monkwearmouth was full of cornfields, and there were no houses apart from Rock Lodge between the river Wear and Whitburn.”

The book also follows the history of Roker from the 1700s to the 1960s.

“I decided early on during the writing of the book to link the life stories to events in Sunderland’s history on both sides of the river,” said Bill.

An aerial view of the properties.

‘Rock Lodge and Peareth’ not only covers the sometimes eccentric characters who lived in the houses, but also key events such as Sunderland’s first parliamentary election, the first murder after the town gained magistrates, the arguments over the town moor, the building of Roker Park and Sunderland’s first roller-skating rink.

It includes biographies of men like Joseph Simpson, twice Sunderland’s mayor, and thirty years a magistrate. There are tales from the police courts in the book. The stories also draw heavily on the Echo’s archive.

It also includes a biography of John Potts Henderson, the SAFC chairman who had Roker Park built, and who later came to grief in the brewery business – a chapter that includes extracts from Henderson’s son’s memoirs.

The book includes a photo of Henderson, at Peareth, with most of the Team of All The Talents that conquered the league in the 1890s.

An inside view of Rock Lodge.

The book also sets out to clear up some of the confusions surrounding Roker and its occupants.

The book costs £23 from Sunderland Antiquarian Society, or £22 direct from the author (contact him on [email protected]).

A view inside Peareth.
The new book by Bill Greenwell.