Famous Sons and Daughters

Famous Sons and Daughters

Several natives of North Shields have distinguished themselves in the arts, amongst them the illustrator and water-colorist Myles Birket Foster. He was born here in 1825, though he moved to London as a child. He became particularly well-known for his landscapes and produced work for many important periodicals of the Victorian age, such as ‘Punch’ and the ‘Illustrated London News’. His illustrations also appeared in many novels and poetry books of the period.

Playwright Tom Hadaway was born in North Shields in 1923. Besides his plays which have been widely performed, he was perhaps best known for his TV work such as ‘God Bless thee Jackie Maddison’ and the popular series ‘When the Boat Comes In’ in the 1970s. Tom died in 2005.

Born in North Shields in 1887, Victor Noble Rainbird was a prize winning student of art on Tyneside and in London and went on to build his reputation as a brilliant painter and stained glass designer. Between 1917 and 1933, his family home was at 71 West Percy Street, where there is now a commemorative plaque. He died in 1936.

Novelist Robert Westall (1929-1993) was born in Vicarage Street, North Shields. Though he spent much of his working life as an art teacher, his first published book, ‘The Machine Gunners’ (1975), won the prestigious Carnegie Medal. He went on to write many other stories, often on the theme of war or the supernatural, several with references to places in the town.

Neil Tennant, vocalist with the ‘Pet Shop Boys’, was born in North Shields in 1954. He worked for a number of years in publishing before establishing his music career alongside keyboards player, Chris Lowe. The duo’s first major hit came with ‘West End Girls’ in 1984, since when they have enjoyed a long and successful career selling more than 100 million records worldwide.

William Harbutt, the inventor of Plasticine was born in North Shields in 1844.