To begin with, this page is all about Sunderland characters from the olden days. However, if there are any modern-day famous characters you would like to highlight, let us know. Obviously, if you wish to add any other Sunderland characters to this page, you can do so. All you need do is provide some information when you fill in this form. An image or two will be helpful too, of course.
Indeed, she would sell fish and cheese from a stall in the Old Market as cover for her smuggling activities. Once, Peggy was carrying a keg of contraband drink when a customs officer arrested her. Then, as he took her back to Bodlewell police station, she wanted to go behind the bushes to relieve herself.
While behind the bushes, she emptied out the keg and filled it with her urine. So that when the customs men examined the contents at the station they had no proof of her smuggling. Of course, again, Peggy had outwitted the law.
When old age crept and Peggy could no longer work, the Parish Workhouse in Church Walk took her in. Indeed, she died there on 10th October 1875 at the age of 86.
Sunderland Characters – The French Onion Seller
From here, he would then organise his other 15 French salesmen. In short, their jobs were to sell their better quality onions to the people of Sunderland.
These Frenchmen came to Sunderland from as far back as the 1800’s. In those days they strung their onions over a pole, balancing a bag at each end, of course. In the later years they acquired bicycles and strung the bags over the handlebars. High dock charges and carriage rates soon made it impossible for the onion sellers to come over and make a profit out of their onions. So they gradually disappeared from the scene.
Hot Potato Man
So it was a sad day on 25th September 1953 when he collapsed and died at the age of 74. But, his son Tommy soon took over the business.
The Crab Woman – Sunderland Characters
Hatter Matter (Atta Matta)
Atta Matta was unkempt and on many occasions people would give her things to wear. However, more often than not she would sell these things for beer money. However, she was no bother at all and indeed takes her place as one of the great Sunderland characters.
Benjamin must have been old on the Vint because it didn’t come into service until 1926. In fact, in July 1957, the Vint made its last journey to and from Bodlewell Lane.
Bagman – Sunderland Characters
Bagman or Bag Man is often around the town carrying many bags around with him, thus his famous name. Indeed, many people take him for a Billy Connolly lookalike. Sometimes he has that many bags he seems to shuttle a few forward, then goes back for the rest. Nobody knows much about the famous Bagman and he doesn’t talk, so the mystery goes on.
In fact, Jimmy Jesus struggled with his walking which suggests some problems with his feet or legs. The rumours are that he broke up with his partner then ended up in this sorry state. He may have slept in an outhouse rather than sleep indoors but this was his choice.
Brian Moore – The Spectre
Indeed, Brian came to Sunderland from Yorkshire and made the town his home. He was also always a regular visitor to the town centre and on most occasion was in his Victorian attire. In fact, he would regularly visit the pubs and even the night clubs in town.
He continued this through to his twilight years and would often sell sketches in the pubs for £1. This he would do in order to pay the bills. Sadly, Brian Moore died in July 2016 at the age of 77. Of course, many people paid their respects as his procession made its way through the city centre.
Other Sunderland Characters
Obviously there are many other Sunderland Characters specific for certain areas and who don’t visit the City Centre. Therefore, if you can supply a paragraph or two, fill in this form. Please, ensure that you don’t knock the person, of course. Indeed, just tell us a few characteristics that make them special in some way. It would also help if you upload a picture or two as well.
Here are a few other names that people have sent in but provided no information about. So, if you can help out with a few details, please do so.
Wearside Online is proud of our region and people, of course. We will continue to write about the history of the area and the people that make our region special. Have you tried out the Sunderland Message Boards (SMB) yet? Our Sunderland Forum allows local people to socially interact with others, So, pop over and have your say.