In this ‘Famous Geordies’ edition, we’re going to take a closer look at two slightly contrasting figures. The first is a household name, but perhaps not for the reason you may think. The second wasn’t a famous general or politician, but nevertheless had a massive social impact on England (and beyond).
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey of Howick
Most people only know of Charles Grey for the famous monument that stands in the centre of Newcastle. The metro station has even chopped the Grey bit off, and is simply known as ‘Monument’. But very few are aware that there’s a good reason for the name – and that’s Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey of Howick.
Born in 1764 at Falloden, he was part of an illustrious line. His own father had been a British general in the colonies, having won various battles during the Wars of Independence. You’d think Charles would find himself living in the shadow of such achievements, but he had other ideas.
At just 22 years of age, he was made a Member of Parliament. Known for his diligence and fervour for reform, this would be just the beginning. In 1830, he became Prime Minister and served until 1834.
His ‘main’ claim to fame is the Reform Act of 1832 – this guaranteed a level of equality never before seen in the United Kingdom. His ‘one man, one vote’ principle transformed British politics, while his move to abolish slavery throughout British dominions abroad was seismic in its effect.
You may also recognise the name Grey for another reason. If you’ve ever had a cup of Earl Grey tea, you know whom to thank! The story harks back to a diplomatic visit to China. The Prime Minister managed to save a man’s life, who in gratitude sent him a unique blend – it was later christened the now-famous ‘Earl Grey’. Not bad from your average Geordie, eh?
From a political figure we move towards something that’s a little more ‘popular culture’. The impact that Bobby Charlton had on English football cannot be underestimated. He was part of the greatest generation Manchester United ever put on the football pitch and was also an integral part of England’s World Cup winning side of 1966.
Born in a humble mining village in Northumberland, Bobby’s family already had a strong connection to football. His uncle was a very respectable professional footballer by the name of Jackie Milburn, while the rest of his family was very much taken by the game. In fact, it was his mum who coached Bobby through his first kicks of the ball!
Bobby wasn’t a late bloomer – his talent was seen early on as a teenager. Picked for England’s schoolboys, he had a slew of professional teams vying for his signature. It ended up being Manchester United. He was one of the survivors of the Munich Air Disaster and was left with the task of rebuilding the team from scratch. He led by example throughout his career, always being commended for his attitude and professionalism.
He’s still the leading scorer for England, with 49 goals for his country. He won 106 caps, a World Cup, the FA Cup, league titles, as well as the all-important European Cup. Legend is almost an understatement for Bobby Charlton…