The brief article below was compiled from South Tyneside Libraries publication "The History of Hebburn 1894-1994" and "Dear Old Hebburn" by Alf Pawsey.

Alf Pawsey's book tells us that the name Hebburn is possibly derived from the Anglo-Saxon terms, 'heah' meaning. high, and 'byrgen' meaning a burying place, but it could also mean the high place beside the water'."

The first record of Hebburn mentions a settlement of fishermen's huts in the 8th century which were burnt by the Vikings. A preserved longboat lay embedded in the river until earlier this century.

In the 1300's the landscape was dominated by a pele tower, a 4'6" wall of which still remains in St. John's Church. The Lordship of the Manor of Hebburn was to pass through the hands of a number of families during the Middle Ages Wilby, Gray and the Baxters who in 1530, conveyed North Hebburn to Richard Hodgson who was to be Lord Mayor of Newcastle on three occasions Generations of the Hodgson family would live at Hebburn Hal until in 1650 it was acquired by Robert Ellison.

Around this time and during the 1700s the largely farming community would see the first industry in Hebburn in the form of mining at Hebburn Vale and Monkton Seam. However, it was not until 1790 that large scale exploitation of coal began with the sinking of 'A' Pit, followed in 1794 by 'B' and later 'C' Pits.

1790 also see' the rebuilding of Ellison Hall with 85 rooms, for Sir Henry Ellison. In 1815, Sir Humphrey Davy tested his new invention the "Safety Lamp", whilst staying with Cuthbert Ellison at the Hall", with gas from "B" Pit being used in the successful experiment

By 1821, Hebburn boasted 60 dwellings housing 757 families and a population of 5,230.

The Colliery in Hebburn was to have a tragic and turbulent history. "B" Pit never reopened after the 1832 strike and the other two ceased production for eleven years between 1859 and 1870 because flooding. Perhaps some of Hebburn's first immigrants were the Cornish miners who came north during this period.

1853 was to be a milestone in Hebburn's history as it marked the arrival of Andrew Leslie and the beginning of shipbuilding. Andrew Leslie was the son of a dispossessed Shetland crofter, and he came to Tyneside from Aberdeen to take advantages of new opportunities. Many workers followed him, giving rise to the naming of the area "Little Aberdeen". Leslie was to become more than an industrialist, he built homes for his workers, schools for their children and largely funded St. Andrew's Church which opened in 1873.

The second half of the nineteenth century was to be a time of tremendous change in Hebburn and by 1901 the population had grown to 21,000, swollen by immigrants, initially from Scotland and later from Ireland. Hebburn now developed into three areas Colliery, Quay and New Town, each with their own schools, communities and identities.

Among the new industries the following would play a major part in Hebburn's development Wailes Dove Bitumastic (1854), Sir Charles Tennant's United Alkali Works (1864), Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company (1869), Bede Metal and Chemical Company and the rope and sail-cloth firm known as "Haggies".

This picture of a rapidly expanding industrial town based on ship-building, mining and engineering, with a community from a wide variety of cultures, would herald its new status in 1894 as an Urban District.


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