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Victims of the Victoria Hall Calamity

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Toward Road, Sunderland runs along the eastern edge of Mowbray Park, perhaps the most outstanding of the city's many impressive public amenities. However, this attractive urban setting hides a terrible secret, for here, at the junction of Toward Road and Laura Street, stood the Victoria Hall which was the scene of what was arguably the country's worst ever tragedy, a tragedy which moved the whole country in a way only matched by the outpouring of grief following the terrible events at Aberfan in 1966 and the recent death of Princess Diana. The tragedy occurred on Saturday, June 16th 1883, during a children's show when gifts were being distributed from the stage. The 1100 or so children in the gallery, determined not to miss the treats, dashed down the spiral staircase to the stalls, but at the foot of the staircase their way was barred by a door which could only open towards them. Tragically the rush of children was such that, before the door could be opened, the leading youngsters were already being pressed against the door by those behind them. The yells of delight soon turned to screams of terror as more and more children found themselves trapped. In the ensuing confusion no less than 183 young children were crushed to death. Truly a tragedy without equal.

Money poured into the town - this is not a modern phenomenon - and some of the donations were used to erect a monument to the dead children in Mowbray Park. This took the form of a life-size white marble statue depicting a grieving mother holding a dead child.

Victoria Hall remained in use for a further 58 years until the night of April 15th/16th 1941 when, at around 3:00 a.m. during a heavy air-raid on the town, a German parachute-mine scored a direct hit on the northern end of the building and completely demolished it. Few would have missed that sullen reminder of an earlier tragedy, but sadly several other nearby buildings were seriously damaged too, including the Winter Gardens and the Museum and Library in Mowbray Park and the Palatine Hotel at the northern end of Toward Road. Soon after WW2 the marble memorial to the dead children was moved to Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.

In 1994 Sunderland Council began a £13 million project which included a new Winter Gardens, the restoration of Mowbray Park to its Victorian glory, and the refurbishment of Sunderland Museum. As part of this project, the much vandalised marble memorial to the dead of 1883 disaster was removed from the cemetery, fully restored, and re-erected in a copper and brass protective enclosure near to its original location in Mowbray Park.


Select a letter below to go to entries beginning with that letter.

A B C D E F G H J K L M N O P R S T V W

A

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Adams, Margaret G.105, Parade
Algren, Charles John823, Parade
Allan, Michael513, North Bridge Street
Allan, Margaret Cook713, North Bridge Street
Anderson, George F.728, Brougham Street
Athey, Jane9125, Wayman Street
Athey, Ruth11125, Wayman Street

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B

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Bailey, Thomas839, East Street
Beale, James832, Ford Street
Bell, Isabella725, Norman Street
Bell, James63, Pemberton Street
Bell, William George84 Bridge Street
Blakey, Barbara107, Page Street
Bland, William1066, Hedley Street
Booth, Robert W.91l, St Luke s Terrace
Briggs, Newrick419, Blandford Street
Briggs, William James919, Blandford Street
Brodie, John Wm.83, Buxton Street
Browell, Emily93, Gilsland Street
Brown, Margaret Ellen1216, D'Arcy Street
Brown, Margaret413, Lisburne Terrace
Buglass, Dorothy B.321, Thornton Place
Butler, Thomas939, Thompson Street

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C

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Carr, Charles Henry813, Trinity Place
Chandler, Sarah Jane717, Wilson Street
Chandler, Thomas H.1017, Wilson Street
Cogdon, Barker Ramsay821, Flag Lane
Conlin, Mary Jane1044, Burleigh Street
Coulson, George H.822, Watson Lane
Coupland, Andrew1040, Queen Street
Curry, John891, Back Whitburn Street
Curtin, Alfred David54, Clanney Street
Curtin, James Fred94, Clanney Street

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D

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Davison, John C.6104, High Street
Davison, Martin H.873, Tweed Street
Davison, Rosanna61l, Thomas Street
Dixon, Charles7Willow Pond Terrace
Dixon, John Edward76, Howick Street
Dodds, Charles Foster673, Victor Street
Downey, Mary75, Back Sussex Street
Dring, Charles861, Roker Avenue
Dring, John Robert1132, Dock Street East
Dumble, Elva7St Mark's Road
Duncan, Mary Ann1113, William Street
Dunn, Thomas H.911, Colliery Row

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E

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Elliott, Elizabeth Watt819 Burleigh Street
Elliott, James Oliver1019 Burleigh Street
Evans, Charles916, Thompson Street
Evans, John George1116, Thompson Street

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F

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Fairgreave, James1017, Brougham Street
Fairgreave, Peter717, Brougham Street
Falley, Kate97, Cornhill Road
Fenwick, Cuthbert M.643, High Street West
Fenwick, John746, Wear Street
Fleming, Thomas W.823, Vine Street
Fox, George10, Gilsland Street N
Fox, Robert10, Gilsland Street N
Fox, William4Chester Terrace North

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G

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Gibson, John G.1116, Tower Street
Gillies, John R.527, Dame Dorothy Street
Graham, Fred. W.112, Bramwell Street
Graham, Thomas737, New Grey Street
Greener, John Thomas789, Eglinton Street
Grey, Robert Henry721, Hawthorn Street

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H

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Hall, Mary Ann815, Deptford Road
Hall, Thomas823, Alexandra Terrace
Halliman, Eliza812, Grey's Buildings
Harrison, Thomas911, Abbs Street
Hayhurst, James72, High Street West
Henderson, Cicely11½3, Hopper Street
Henderson, James103, Hopper Street
Henderson, Joseph96, Nicholson Street
Henderson, Margaret Jane73, Hopper Street
Henderson, Richard76, Nicholson Street
Hilton, Robert P.641, Emma Street
Hines, Eveline4, Booth Street
Hines, William Arthur84, Booth Street
Hogg, Robert Hall84, Harrison Street East
Howard, John73, Pemberton Street
Hughes, Thomas Edward51, Swinbank Street
Hughes, Thomas75, Clanney Street
Hutchinson, Laura V.672, Hendon Road

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J

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Jefferson, Thomas920, Gosforth Street
Jewitt, R.10Foyle Street
Johnson, William104, Pickard Street

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K

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Kelty, William1017, Dock Street East
Kemp, William724, Henry Street East
Kirby, A. Edward1019, D'Arcy Terrace
Kirton, Elizabeth91, Carr's Yard
Knox, George W.9Brougham Street

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L

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Lackenby, Johnson50, Queen Street
Lane, Charles H.102, Clanney Street
Lane, James W.62, Clanney Street
Lawrence, Isabella71, Addison Street
Lawrence, John51, Addison Street
Liddle, Edward834, Burlington Road
Longstaff, William S.7Coatesworth Street

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M

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
McCann, Kate831, Silver Street
McKeever, John William5Society Lane
Maconkie, Nellie106, Christopher Street
Maddison, Fred511, Kingsley Street
Maddison, Sarah511, Kingsley Street
Marley, John57, Tees Street
Meek, James840, Villiers Street
Milburn, Hannah I.9Alderson Street
Miles, Charles919, Catherine Street
Miller, Emily93, Gilsland Street
Miller, William834, Burlington Road
Mills, Alice P.1010, Ann Street
Mills, Elizabeth A.1210, Ann Street
Mills, Frederick810, Ann Street
Mills, Richard610, Ann Street
Morris, Emily717, Glebe Cleft Villas
Morrison, John7Richmond Street
Muse, Jane617, Biss Street

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N

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Newton, Catherine13, Carter Street
Nipper, George Stokeld911, Howick Square
Noble, John Waller1113, Winchester Terrace

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O

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Orrock, Margaret1216, Covent Garden Street

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P

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Paget, Mary10Lisburn Terrace
Paley, Edward615, Garden Place
Patterson, Alfred76, Matlock Street
Paxton, Louis A.814, Dunning Street
Peace, Ann Marie722, West Stanley Street
Pearey, William94, Bright Street
Pescod, Mary Eleanor821, Burleigh Street
Pescod, William Henry1021, Burleigh Street
Phillipson, Emmerson1112, Dame Dorothy Street
Pringle, Ann M.948, Southwick Road
Pringle, Maggie748, Southwick Road
Prior, George1211, Kingsley Street
Proudfoot, John T.811, Burleigh Street

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R

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Ramsey, Robert1136, Covent Garden Street
Redmond, Annie1414, Booth Street
Richmond, Catherine715, Grey's Buildings
Ritson, Thomas C.918, Mordey Street
Robertson, Annie Patteson1061, High Street East
Robertson, Ethel761, High Street East
Robson, Eleanor614, Tyne Street
Roper Margaret812, East Cross Street
Rowell, Elizabeth748, Gladstone Street
Russell, Mary Helen629 Lawrence Street
Rutherford, William819, John Candlish Road

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S

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Scott, James H.1023, Vine Street
Scrafton, Eugenie86, Handel Street
Shipley, Walter G.10Griffin's Buildings
Simey, Abraham855, Silver Street
Simpson, William7Sans Close
Sleightam, George8Hendon Street
Sleightam, William6Hendon Street
Smith, Carrie543, Northumberland Street
Snaith, Elizabeth857, Fowler Terrace
Snaith, George87, East Street
Solomon, Tiney943, Henry Street
Southern, Thomas810, Catherine Street
Spence, Joseph1030, Howick Street
Swinney, John Thomas6George Street

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T

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Taylor, John James6Coatesworth Street
Thompson, Margaret Ann6Norman Street
Thompson, Margaret331, Palmer Street
Thompson, Mary Ann1131, Palmer Street
Tomlinson, Annie M.4South Durham Street
Topin, Ada Ann1147, Emma Street
Topin, Nora647, Emma Street
Toward, Thomas9Coatesworth Street
Turnbull, Margaret A.8Norman Street

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V

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Venus, John George Thomas789, Eglinton Street
Vowell, Grace Newton85½, Norfolk Street
Vowell, Lilly45½, Norfolk Street

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W

 

Victim's Surname and ForenameAgeResidence (Sunderland)
Wanless, Elizabeth78, Dock Street
Ward, Florence Edith68, Back Charles Street
Watson, Amy C. L.13Wayman Street
Watson, Annie Emily C.10Wayman Street
Watson, R. C.12Wayman Street
Weighill, William R.8Vine Cottage
Wilkinson, Robert77, Addison Street
Willan, John Henry1137, Zetland Street
Williamson, John Robert115, Johnson Street
Wise, John James1056, Moor Street
Wright, Andrew75, Bright Street
Wright, Mary5Willow Pond Inn

Researcher Alan Vickers has been looking at newspaper accounts of the burials of the victims and has noted some discrepencies between the names listed there and the official list of victims. His work is ongoing, but he has provided GENUKI with the results of his of work so far. This suggests that there may well be more victims than are listed above.

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