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The White Lion PH, 1 Newbottle Street, Houghton-le-Spring

The White Lion Hotel once stood proud and tall on the junction between Newbottle and Sunderland Streets before it was demolished and rebuilt as a less grand building in the 1960s. In the early 19th century, Houghton’s Magistrates were based on the top floor of the White Lion. You could get drunk on the ground floor, be sentenced upstairs and sent down (literally) to the two cells in the basement. Copyright © Books of the North 2011

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An old view of the White Lion Hotel in Houghton-le-Spring, c1910

The petty sessions were held there until 1853 when a new police station, with a justice room, was built (this was then later replaced by the police station and court on Dairy Lane). Copyright © Books of the North 2011

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Noteworthy occurrences (and proprietors) include:

1827 & 1829 – George Livingston
1834 – Petty sessions held at the White Lion on alternate Thursdays.
1835 – January 28th – Houghton was first lit with gas “on which occasion the proprietors dined together at the White Lion”
1836 & 1846 – Auction notices – Mr Robert Binks, White Lion Inn, Houghton-le-Spring.
1841 – Jane Binks.
1850 – November 21st – An inquest was held at the White Lion into the Houghton Colliery disaster of November 11th, which left at least 26 men and boys dead
1851 & 1855 – Arthur Binks (was innkeeper of Ram’s Head in 1861)
1854 – June – Mr George Humble ‘entered’ the White Lion Hotel. According to an auction notice he was still there in November 1854.
1855 – Arthur Binks placed a couple of adverts in the Newcastle Courant in November 1855 stating that the White Lion Inn was to let and could be occupied from the next February.
1857 – An advertisement for an auction of a large amount of furniture and miscellaneous effects appeared in the Newcastle Courant of May 1st 1857: “J.C Farrow has received instructions from Mr Middlemass, who is leaving the White Lion Inn, Houghton-le-Spring...”
1858 & 1861 - Mrs Mary Harrison
1865 - Auction notice – Mr Harston’s, White Lion Inn, Houghton-le-Spring.
1869 – Auction notice – Mr Bowey’s, White Lion Inn, Houghton-le-Spring.
1883 – In August 1883, Mr Smyth of the White Lion Inn wrote to the Home Secretary asking for mitigation in the sentence passed for a Dr James O’Flannagan. The Home Secretary declined, however Dr O’Flannagan was released on December 12th and was collected from Durham by Mr Smyth and brought back to Houghton.
1884 – At the October Houghton Feast Races, Mr Smyth detonated sixteen charges of dynamite which two boys had discovered under the grandstand at the racecourse!
1885 – Mr Smyth still present at the White Lion.
1890 – Mrs Isabella Smyth (buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery)
1894 & 1895 & 1901 – James Turnbull Dixon
1911 – Robert Dixon Marshall, inn keeper.
1914 – Jonathan Herbert Walton
1938 – White Lion Commercial Hotel – Albert Barron, proprietor
1950s – Jim & Beet Davison (Uncle and Aunt to Houghton librarian Carol Bell, they were previously in the nearby Lamb Inn then went to the Prospect, Penshaw, until their retirement in 1971)
1969 – The rebuilt White Lion pub was opened, taking up some of the land previously occupied by the old Town Hall.
1977 – The White Lion was the Sunday morning rehearsal venue for the North East Concert Band.

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The modern White Lion pub in 2010.  This was built around 1968.
The modern White Lion public house, as seen in 2010. The new building was built circa 1968. Copyright © Books of the North 2011

Copyright © Books of the North 2011.

Looking at the White Lion pub in Houghton-le-Spring.  This view was taken from within the Golden Lion opposite
Looking at the White Lion pub from the Church tower


Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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Paul Lanagan wishes to place on record his thanks to the following:

1835 reference from ‘Historical Register of Remarkable Events’, 1832-1837. As with all the Houghton pub articles, thanks are extended to Ron Lawson, pub historian. Many census extracts provided by Dr Jack Morley.

Copyright © Books of the North 2002 - 2011.



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The Gilpin family crest

PAGE UPDATED: 26/10/2011

Agar, Geo. vict. Victoria Inn, Robinson St
Berry, Wm. vict. Red Lion, Church St.
Clark, Timothy, vict. Lamb Inn, Newbottle Lane
Dixon, James Turnbull, vict. White Lion and Commercial Hotel, Sunderland St.
Dixon, T, vict. Halfway House, Newbottle Lane (see below)
Fleming, Mrs A, vict. County Arms, Sunderland St.
Fletcher, Rbt, vict, Bonny Pit Lad, Newtown vFuller, Francis, vict. & threshing machine prop., Copt Hill Inn, Copt Hill
Gray, Robt. vict, Colliery Inn, Newbottle Lane
Hall, H, vict. Newcastle Arms, Newbottle Lane
Hall, Hugh, vict. Golden Lion, Sunderland St.
Harrison, Marmaduke Tomlins Parkin, vict. Cross House, Hutton Lane
Haswell, George, vict. and farmer, Jolly Farmers, Market Place
Moffitt, Wm, vict. Robbie Burns, Newbottle Lane
Patrick, Edwd, vict. Black Horse, Market Place
Pickering, William, vict. Sportsman Tavern, Newtown
Place, Wm, vict. Mill Inn, Rainton bridge
Rennoldson, Thomas, vict and farmer, Wheat Sheaf, Neasham Place
Richardson, Mrs M A, vict. Bay Horse, Sunderland St.
Rigby, T, vict, Lamton Arms, Newbottle Lane
Scott John, shopkeeper, Newbottle Lane, Halfway House (see above)
Shields, W, vict, Nag's Head, Newbottle Lane
Smith, W, beerhouse, Prince of Wales, Hopper St
Smith, William Bell, vict. Queen's Head, Sunderland Street
Smyth, Mrs Isa, vict. White Lion, Sunderland St
Turnbull, Mrs E, vict. Royal Oak, Newbottle Lane
Turnbull, William Benjamin, grocer, wine and spirit merchant, Newbottle Lane
Waller, T, vict. Ram's Head, Sunderland St vWelsh, Nrs E, beerhouse, Albert Inn, Newbottle Lane
Wheatley, G. jr., vict. Malster's Arms, Newton
Wilson, G, vict. Britannia Inn, Newbottle Lane
Wilson, Wm, vict. Black Lion, Sunderland St