News and press releases

19 Mar 2009

Plaque Marks Birthplace Of Hebburn "Rock Star"

Press release


Councillor Alan Kerr shows off the soon-to-be-installed blue plaque at 62 Glen Street, joined by Councillor John McCabe (left) and the property's current owner, Fred Butcher. Councillor Alan Kerr shows off the soon-to-be-installed blue plaque at 62 Glen Street, joined by Councillor John McCabe (left) and the property's current owner, Fred Butcher.

The birthplace of Hebburn's very own international "rock star" has at last been recognised.

Among the things named in honour of geologist, Arthur Holmes, are a Durham University laboratory, a European Geosciences Union medal and even a crater on Mars!

Holmes is internationally renowned for establishing the use of radioactive techniques as a means of calculating the age of the earth.

Now, a blue plaque is to be installed on the wall of 62 Glen Street, where Holmes was born on January 14, 1890.

Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Alan Kerr, said: "I am very excited about this opportunity to draw attention to such distinguished figure. It is vital that we celebrate the Borough's links with significant people, places and events and this blue plaque marks the birthplace of one of the most important geologists of the 20th Century."

Educated at Imperial College, London, Holmes went on to lecture there and later became the first Professor of Geology at Durham University, before taking up the same position at the University of Edinburgh.

In 1913 and aged just 23, Holmes published his world-famous book "The Age of the Earth", in which he estimated the Earth's age to be 1.6 billion years.

He continued to revise this estimate throughout his life as measuring techniques improved, producing a figure in 1959 some three times larger.

In 1956, he won both the Penrose Medal and the Wollaston Medal, whose previous winners include Charles Darwin.

Councillor John McCabe, president of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers and Chair of the Hebburn Community Area Forum, said: "Arthur Holmes is regarded as one of the most creative and important geoscientists of all time and his work is of great interest to me both personally and professionally. He greatly furthered work in his field, and I am delighted to see his Hebburn birthplace marked in this way."

Holmes also made major contributions to the theory of continental drift - the movement of the Earth's continents - which were later supported in the development of the modern theory of plate tectonics. He died in 1965.

Blue plaques are permanent signs installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event.

South Tyneside has blue plaques in a number of locations including the Old Town Hall, the Lawe Beacons, the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel, the Westoe Village birthplace of children's author, Elinor Brent-Dyer and the Whitburn home of civil engineer, Thomas Elliot Harrison.

Caption: Councillor Alan Kerr shows off the soon-to-be-installed blue plaque at 62 Glen Street, joined by Councillor John McCabe (left) and the property's current owner, Fred Butcher.

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