PEOPLE & CHARACTERS FROM HOUGHTON

The section of the Houghton Heritage Society website looks at the people and characters from Houghton-le-Spring.

Many will remember the faces shown below, such as Tommy Urwin the local MP, or Colombo Riani from Riani's Cafe, but some may be more obscure - or perhaps you have heard of them but wondered what their connection to Houghton was.

If you can think of any individuals who should be included here, please do get in touch with the Society.

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Linden Travers, star of stage and screen

LINDEN TRAVERS

Linden Travers, star of stage and screen, was born in Houghton-le-Spring in 1913 as Florence Lindon-Travers, daughter of William Halton Lindon-Travers and Florence Wheatley of the well-known confectioner family.
[LINDEN TRAVERS] | [100TH BIRTHDAY] | [STAR]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Mr John Mawston aka Mr Houghton Feast

MR JOHN MAWSTON

Mr John Mawston also goes by the name of Mr Houghton Feast for his longstanding association with the festival. John was a Councillor for Houghton Urban District Council and then the City of Sunderland.
[JOHN MAWSTON]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Rector Bernard Gilpin, Father of the Poor and Apostle of the North

BERNARD GILPIN

Bernard Gilpin was Rector of Houghton-le-Spring from 1558 until his death in March 1583 at the age of 66 years. Find our more about this amazing man in his own section of the Heritage Society's site on the link below.
[BERNARD GILPIN]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Margery Bellasis, friend of Bernard Gilpin

MARGERY BELLASIS

Margery Bellasis was a friend of Bernard Gilpin's. She had 12 children! Margery is interred in a tomb in St Michael's Church, set in the south wall of the Chancel. An engraved brass plate once marked the spot.
[MARGERY BELLASIS]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: The Riani family, Italian icecream sellers of Houghton-le-Spring

THE RIANI FAMILY

Originally known as the Gaiety Temperance Bar, Riani's Cafe was located at 67 Newbottle Street and was owned by Colombo and Alessandro Riani, two brothers from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Tuscany.
[THE RIANI FAMILY]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Sir George Elliot, Bart., M.P.

SIR GEORGE ELLIOT

Sir George Elliot, Bart, MP, lived at Houghton Hall. He was an advisor to the Egyptian Khedive. He is buried in the large rock vault at Hillside Cemetery with his daughter Elizabeth, son and grandson (both George).
[SIR GEORGE ELLIOT]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring:  The murder of Sir John le Spring, Lord of Houghton, was killed in his own manor house in 1313, by Robert Lascelles, the husband of Sir John’s lover!

SIR JOHN LE SPRING

Sir John le Spring, Lord of Houghton, was killed in his own manor house, in the Market Place of Houghton-le-Spring, in 1313, by Robert Lascelles, the husband of Sir John’s lover! Read this fictional retelling of the murder.
[SIR JOHN LE SPRING]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: William Shanks, mathematician

WILLIAM SHANKS

William Shanks, a thirty-five year old amateur mathematician from Corsenside, came to settle in Houghton-le-Spring in 1847. William is famous for calculating the value of Pi to 707 places.
[WILLIAM SHANKS]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Billy Purvis the Clown

BILLY PURVIS

The great showman Billy Purvis visited the Feast with his booth between 1818 and 1848. He made a welcome 'reappearance' in 2009 and has been back every year since. Read his fascinating story here.
[BILLY PURVIS]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Reg Vardy

THE VARDY FAMILY

Reginald Vardy was born at 13 Union Street, Houghton, in 1909, the son of a coal miner. Reg's son, Peter, took over his car dealership in 1976 and grew it into one of the most successful in the volume car market.
[THE VARDY FAMILY]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Tommy Urwin, M.P for Houghton-le-Spring

TOM URWIN M.P.

Thomas William Urwin (June 9th 1912 – December 14th 1985) was a Labour Member of Parliament for Houghton-le-Spring between 1964 and 1983. He served time as a Councillor on Houghton Urban District Council.
[TOM URWIN]

People & Characters from Houghton-le-Spring: Elizabeth Porter 1901 - 2011

ELIZABETH PORTER

Elizabeth Porter, of Shiney Row, was Chairman of HUDC in 1970 and Mayor of Sunderland Borough in 1975, the first female to take the role. Mrs Porter passed away on June 25th 2011 at the age of 101 years.
[ELIZABETH PORTER]

Join Fyass Byuk - Houghton Heritage Society's popular Facebook group

FACEBOOK GROUP

You can join Houghton Heritage Society by becoming a member on Facebook - or Fyass Byuk as we call it. We have over 2,500 members and the group is very popular with residents, descendants and ex-pats.
[FACEBOOK]

Videos and cine footage of Houghton-le-Spring

VIDEOS OF HOUGHTON

Houghton Heritage Society's YouTube Channel features exclusive videos of Houghton-le-Spring as well as footage from our heritage events throughout the year - and of course scenes from the annual Houghton Feast!
[YOUTUBE VIDEOS]

Old photographs of Houghton-le-Spring shared via Flickr

OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

Houghton Heritage Society has over 5,000 images in its collections. Many can be found on our Flickr page while our Facebook group has thousands of exclusive photographs as uploaded by our many members.
[FLICKR] | [ARCHIVE CATALOGUE]