Thomas Wilson (poet)

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Thomas Wilson, poet and partner in Losh, Wilson and Bell Thomas Wilson (1773-1858), poet.gif
Thomas Wilson, poet and partner in Losh, Wilson and Bell

Thomas Wilson (1773 – 9 May 1858) was a Tyneside poet, from Low Fell in Gateshead. His most famous work, written in the Geordie dialect, is The Pitman's Pay , originally published between 1826 and 1830. [1]

Tyneside Place in England

Tyneside is a conurbation on the banks of the River Tyne in North East England which includes Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Tynemouth, Wallsend, South Shields, and Jarrow. The population at the 2011 census was 774,891.

Low Fell human settlement in United Kingdom

Low Fell is a suburb of Gateshead situated in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England. Built predominantly on sandstone, grindstone and clay, it is bordered by Sheriff Hill/Deckham to the east, Saltwell/Bensham to the west, Harlow Green to the south and Shipcote to the north. The suburb lies on a major bus route 2.5 miles south of Gateshead centre, 3 miles south of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and 12 miles north of the historic City of Durham. The principal road in the suburb is the A167. According to the 2001 UK census, the suburb had a population of 8,643, falling marginally to 8,636 at the 2011 census.

Gateshead town in Tyne and Wear, England

Gateshead is a town in Tyne and Wear, England, on the southern bank of the River Tyne opposite Newcastle upon Tyne. Gateshead and Newcastle are joined by seven bridges across the Tyne, including the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. The town is known for its architecture, including the Sage Gateshead, the Angel of the North and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Residents of Gateshead, like the rest of Tyneside, are referred to as Geordies. Gateshead's population in 2011 was 120,046.


Early life

Wilson, was born on 14 November 1773 at Low Fell, now a suburb of Gateshead into a very poor family. Like many from the North East, he began his working life down the mines at one of the many local pits, starting as a trapper-boy at around the age of around 8 or 9 years old. He had the determination to better himself, and wanted to improve his life and so studied, educating himself to a high standard, before moving on to become a schoolmaster at an early age.


A hurrier, also sometimes called a coal drawer or coal thruster, was a child or woman employed by a collier to transport the coal that they had mined. Women would normally get the children to help them because of the difficulty of carrying the coal. Common particularly in the early 19th century, the hurrier pulled a corf full of coal along roadways as small as 16 inches in height. They would often work 12-hour shifts, making several runs down to the coal face and back to the surface again.

Later life

After a short stay in this job, he moved to a clerkship on Newcastle's Quayside. [2]

In 1803, Wilson followed this with a move to join a Tyneside engineering company run by Mr John Losh. [3] He became a partner in the company in 1807 and the partnership changed its name to Losh, Wilson and Bell, manufacturer of alkali and iron. [4]

Losh, Wilson and Bell

Losh, Wilson and Bell, later Bells, Goodman, then Bells, Lightfoot and finally Bell Brothers, was a leading Northeast England manufacturing company, founded in 1809 by the partners William Losh, Thomas Wilson, and Thomas Bell.

In 1826 the first part of his most famous song The Pitman's Pay was published in a Newcastle magazine. Subsequent parts appeared over the next two years. Other well-known works include The Weshin’ Day; his last poem was The Market Day.

Thomas Wilson's "The Pitman’s Pay" was first printed in a Newcastle magazine called "Mitchell's Magazine" in 1826. Further sections were printed in 1828 and 1830.

Wilson never lost his love of the area, or its people. He moved to Fell House, close to his birthplace, and spent the remainder of his long life there. He went on to write many other songs and pieces of prose, usually in the Geordie dialect; these were mostly published by George Routledge & Sons.

Wilson died on 9 May 1858 at the age of 85 and is buried in St Johns Church Sheriff Hill Gateshead. A great philanthropist he was responsible for the erection of a building in Low Fell in 1841 which provided reading rooms, a schoolroom and a lecture theatre for the working classes. A social club in the Low Fell area is named after him.



Gateshead borough council plans to erect a Blue plaque to commemorate "Thomas Wilson (1774-1858) Poet, Teacher and Business Man". [5]

There is also a CIU Working Men's Club in the Low Fell area named after him.

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  1. Wilson, Thomas (1843) The Pitman's Pay and Other Poems. Gateshead: William Douglas.
  2. "FARNE - Folk Archive Thomas Wilson". Archived from the original on 2009-05-30.
  3. "Losh family history".
  4. "Chemicals and Glass 1800AD - 1900AD – Losh, Wilson & Bell".
  5. "Commemorative Plaques in Gateshead Borough". Archived from the original on 26 July 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2014.