In earlier days, the Township of Hilton was part of the parish of Monkwearmouth, bounded on the west by the Township of Washington; on the north by the Township of Boldon; on the east by the Township of Southwick and by the River Wear on the south.
In those days, it must have consisted of many small agricultural settlements or farms, with almost all of the working population working on the land. Most of the farms would have formed the estate of the Barons of Hilton from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the middle of the eighteenth century, when the last Baron died. The estate was then sold to a local man, William Briggs. But then things gradually changed.
In the early nineteenth century, more and more ships were being built on the River Wear close to the ancient ferry. Between 1834 and 1869, as many as sixteen or more companies were building on the north side of the river, from Osborne Graham in the east to the Manor House further west. One of the biggest of the shipyards was that of Robert Reay, who lived at Hylton Place.
Thus it was that what we know now as the village of North Hylton grew, as new industries, cement, brick and naphtha works were developed. Bit little is left; Time is all consuming.
There were three public houses; The Oak Tree, the Shipwrights Inn and the Earl of Durham. No doubt the Press Gang visited these pubs in order to recruit for the Royal Navy.
At the turn of the of the twentieth century, the Mansion House (now known as Manor House), was owned by the wealthy Welford family, who were landlords of some of the farms around.
Robert Welford and his two sons, George and Charles, became well-known aviator pioneers, building the Welford Monoplane (patented in 1910).
Now, most of the farmland is gone! New estates, a dual-carriage road system and Nissan car factory have swallowed up most of the agricultural land, leaving only one farm.
The streets and houses are no long gone; condemned in the late 1930’s, in order that the residents could be re-housed in Castletown.
Little is left bit history!
Written by John T. Beveridge July 2012.