joe wilson largeThe family of a legendary 19th century songwriter and performer have been in South Tyneside this week to help mark the 175th anniversary of his birth.

The great grandchildren of Joe Wilson – known as‘the Bard of Tyneside’ – visited Jarrow Town Hall for a special civic reception hosted by the Mayor of South Tyneside.

Joe Wilson, who was born in 1841, wrote the well-known song Keep Your Feet Still Geordie Hinny. In his short life – he died at the age of just 33 – he wrote at least 260 songs and readings, many of which are still in print today.

Other ‘hit’ songs which he wrote include Geordie Hold the Bairn, Gallowgate Lad, Dinnet Clash the Door and The Landlord’s Daughter.

Joe had many links with South Tyneside. He regularly performed in Jarrow and South Shields and married a woman from Jarrow – fellow performer, Bella English.

Following Joe’s death, Bella and her family emigrated to Canada. Now their great grandchildren, Kasandra and George, have made the journey back to the North East to learn more about their roots and visit Joe’s grave.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Alan Smith, said: “It was an absolute privilege to meet George and Kasandra during their ‘pilgrimage’ to the region.

“Joe was a Victorian superstar throughout the music halls in his day and was stage manager in South Shields so it is wholly appropriate that the Borough pays tribute to him.

He added: “Joe has been likened to Scotland’s Rabbie Burns who lives on in the hearts of the people of Scotland. It was an honour to commemorate Joe’s life and the legacy he has left to the people of South Tyneside and the whole North East region.”