Sunday 16 February 2014

(110) Allison of Undercliff, Cleadon

James Allison (1796-1865) was a successful businessman who began as a shipbuilder at Monkwearmouth in Sunderland.  When the lease on his shipyard ran out, he turned to brewing instead and the profits of this business allowed him to build a small country house called Undercliff set in ten acres of grounds at Cleadon, a few miles north of Sunderland. His son William Henry Allison (1827-1917) succeeded him both at Undercliff and in the brewing business, finally selling out in 1890, when Newcastle Breweries Ltd was established to buy up a number of brewery companies in the north-east.  James's elder son, James John Allison (1826-99) appears to have established a corn dealing business in Sunderland, but this became insolvent in 1861 and he too then joined the brewing company. Both James junior and William were active militia soldiers, James ending up as Colonel of the Durham Light Infantry and William as Colonel of the Newcastle Royal Engineer Volunteers and later succeeding his brother at the Durham regiment.  

From about 1906, William leased Tickford Abbey in Buckinghamshire for a number of years. It is not clear why, in his late 70s, he should suddenly move from County Durham to a rather larger house at Newport Pagnell, especially as he returned to Undercliff by 1911. His son, James John Allison (1854-1929), who was a Director of Newcastle Breweries Ltd., lived in Newcastle-on-Tyne and sold Undercliff in the early 1920s.

Undercliff, Cleadon, Durham

Undercliff: the south and east fronts, showing the unequal spacing of the bays. Image: Pete Bettess
A puzzling but attractive two-storey classical house of brick with stone dressings, which was reputedly built in 1853-56 for James Allison. The designer is unknown but could well have been an amateur as the handling of the facades, articulated by Tuscan pilasters, demonstrates several solecisms: for example, the pilasters on the main south front are irregularly spaced, as the front consists of three narrow bays and two broader ones with bay windows. 
Undercliff: entrance front. Image: South Tyneside Council

The three-bay entrance (west) elevation is markedly unbalanced, with a large Tuscan porch sat uncomfortably on the left hand bay and a blind right-hand bay, but there seems no evidence that the range has been truncated. The long east range incorporated service accommodation and a cottage. 

Undercliff: the staircase hall. Image: Pete Bettess

Inside, the house retains Tudor-style decoration in the entrance hall and a curved dog-leg stair with an elaborate cast-iron balustrade. The main rooms on the south front also have quite elaborate plasterwork and good marble fireplaces. The house became a "Home of Healing" in the 1960s and was divided into three units in 1977 to the designs of Colin Luke, architect, who subsequently lived in one of the units created.

Descent: Built for James Allison (1796-1865); to son, William Henry Allison (1827-1917); to son, James John Allison (1854-1929); who sold c.1922 to Col. Sir Robert Chapman (1880-1963), 1st bt.; to son, Sir Robert MacGowan Chapman (1911-87), 2nd bt., who gave it in the late 1960s to St Michael's Home of Healing; converted to three dwellings 1977.

Allison family of Undercliff

James Allison
Mayor of Sunderland
Allison, James (1796-1865) of Undercliff. Son of John Allison (1746-1800) of Monkwearmouth (Durham), and his wife Anne (d. 1830), daughter of John Taylor of Monkwearmouth, mariner, born 17 January 1796. Shipbuilder (1818-33), wine and spirit merchant and brewer; took over North Quay Brewery, 1833; Mayor of Sunderland 1844-45 and 1864-65. He married, 1819, Henrietta (1799-1881), second daughter of Edward Hinde, of Sunderland, attorney, and had issue:
(1) Henrietta Allison (1820-98), born 25 February 1820; married, 21 July 1840, William Gylby (1814-72) and had issue four sons and two daughters; died 18 April 1898;
(2) Edward Allison (b. 1822), born March 1822 but died in infancy;
(3) Ann Allison (1824-1909), born 2 January 1824; married, 19 March 1844, Edward Edden of Edgbaston, Birmingham and had issue three sons and one daughter; buried 15 March 1909;
(4) Col. James John Allison (1826-99) (q.v.);
(5) William Henry Allison (1827-1917) (q.v.);
(6) John George Allison (1833-1917), born 2 Jan. 1833; civil engineer; married, 3 June 1857, Mary Anne (1834-1903), daughter of George Wilkin Hall, of Boldon and had issue six sons and two daughters; died 12 February 1917; will proved 8 April 1917 (estate £921);
(7) Charles Allison (b. 1836), born 21 April 1836 but died in infancy;
(8) Albert Edwin Allison (1843-61), born 13 January and baptised 20 February 1843; sailor; drowned 10 August 1861. 
He built Undercliffe at Cleadon in about 1853.
He died 12 July 1865; his will was proved 27 January 1866 (estate under £30,000). His widow died 23 May 1881; her will was proved 20 February 1882 (estate £697).

Col. J.J. Allison
Allison, Col. James John (1826-99), of Otterburn Hall (Northbld). Second but oldest surviving son of James Allison (1796-1865) and his wife Henrietta (d. 1881), daughter of Edward Hinde of Sunderland, attorney, born 14 May 1826. JP and DL (1876) for Co. Durham; hon. Col. of 4th Bttn, Durham Light Infantry; awarded CB. He married, 20 December 1853, Jane Smith (c.1832-1914), daughter of George Wilkin Hall of Boldon (Durham) but had no issue.
He lived at Beaufront, Roker Terrace, Sunderland, and leased Otterburn Hall (Northbld) briefly in the late 19th century. 
He died 25 March 1899; his will was proved 6 June 1899 (estate £33,595). His widow died 18 April 1914; her will was proved 25 May 1914 (estate £12,864). 

William Henry Allison
Allison, William Henry (1827-1917), of Undercliffe and Tickford Abbey. Third son of James Allison (1796-1865) and his wife Henrietta (d. 1881), daughter of Edward Hinde of Sunderland, attorney, born 31 October 1827. Educated at The Grange, Sunderland. Brewer; sold company in 1890 to Newcastle Breweries Ltd. JP and DL for Co. Durham and JP for Buckinghamshire, 1906; honorary Col. of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Royal Engineer Volunteers; awarded Victoria Decoration, 1882.  He married, 21 September 1852, Margaret (d. 1917), daughter of John Clay, of Cleadon Meadows, nr. Sunderland, and had issue:
(1) James John Allison (1854-1929) (q.v.);
(2) Nina Florence Allison (1856-1907), born 17 October 1856; married, 18 April 1889, Charles Newton Lovely MD (c.1864-1947), of Dawlish (Devon), and had issue three sons and one daughter; died of pneumonia, 14 January 1907 and was buried at Dawlish Cemetery;
(3) Maud Allison (1858-1930), born June 1858; married, 25 August 1889, Horace Ridgway Harrison, of Vancouver Island, Canada, and died 1930;
(4) Oswald Allison (1860-1934), of Port Elizabeth, Cape Province (South Africa), born 25 February 1860; married, 1866, Eliza Talbot (d. 1934) and had issue; died 18 June 1934; administration granted 22 July 1935 (estate in England £1,123)
(5) Henrietta Allison (1862-1935), born 23 January 1862; married, 3 August 1886, R. M. Lambe, of Cleadon House, and died 1935;
(6) Violet Allison (1864-1927), born 17 January 1864; married, 4 August 1888 (div. 1904), Viginti Tertius Thompson (d. 1946), shipowner, of Rainton Grove, Sunderland (brother of Charles Thompson, of Morton Hall, Otterburn mentioned below) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 16 August 1927;
(7) Mabel Allison (1866-89), born 30 January 1866; married, 5 January 1889, Archibald Graham, of West Kirby (Cheshire), and died 16 August 1889.
(8) Harold Kenneth Allison (1870-1949), of Dunmoe, Navan (Meath), born 22 January 1870; married 1st, 30 August 1894, Lady Diana (d. 1914), daughter of 14th Earl of Eglinton and formerly wife of Sir Claud Alexander, 2nd bt., and had issue one son (H.A. Allison of Drumelton House) and one daughter; married 2nd, 1939, Maria Rebecca Heany; died 16 April 1949; will proved 20 October 1949 (estate in England, £1,339)
(9) Capt. Hubert Allison (1872-1956), of Little Abbots, Pewsey (Wilts), born 20 December 1872; Jockey Club starter, 1913-47; married, 6 April 1917, Mildred Clarke (1885-1969), daughter of Charles Thompson of Morton Hall, Otterburn (Northbld) and had issue three daughters; died 6 April 1956.
He inherited Undercliffe from his father in 1865 and leased Tickford Abbey c.1906-10.
He died 11 January 1917; his will was proved 16 May 1917 (estate £31,970). His wife died 25 January 1917; her will was proved 18 April 1917 (estate £1,230).

Allison, James John (1854-1929), of Undercliffe. Eldest son of William Henry Allison (d. 1917) and his wife Margaret, daughter of John Clay of Cleadon Meadows, born 19 June 1854.  Educated at Kings Sch. Canterbury.  Director of Newcastle Breweries Ltd; JP and DL for County Durham; Major and hon. Lt.-Col. 3rd Bttn. Durham Light Infantry; Mayor of Sunderland. He married, 1st, 11 April 1882, Edith Hope (1859-82), daughter of Rev. Alexander Napier, vicar of Holkham (Norfolk), and secondly, 18 September 1884, Edith Bryham (1864-1951), eldest daughter of Robert M. Davidson, of High Cross House Lodge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had issue:
(2.1) Henry James Noel Palmer Allison (1887-1919), born on 16 May, 1887; educated at Wellington College; Lt. in 3rd Gordon Highlanders; married, 1909, Helen May, daughter of William Jones of Knowle, Bristol, but died without issue, 3 February 1919; will proved 31 July 1919 (estate £247);
(2.2) Claude Stanley Allison (1889-1962) of Wentworth, Virginia Water (Surrey), born 3 October 1889; educated at Repton; Director of Atkinson Baldwin & Co. Ltd., wine and spirit merchants; married, 26 November 1931, Helen (d. 1960), eldest daughter of George Roper,
of Sunderland; died without issue, 4 June 1962; will proved 19 July 1962 (estate £47,334).
He lived in Newcastle-on-Tyne, but inherited Undercliffe from his father in 1917, and sold it c.1922 to Robert (later Sir Robert) Chapman.
He died 15 September 1929; his will was proved 15 September 1929 (estate £8,730). His first wife died 24 December 1882 and his widow 22 March 1951; her will was proved 4 July 1951 (estate £9,060).


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1972, p. 16; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: County Durham, 2nd edn., 1983, pp. 129-30; Sir N. Pevsner & E. Williamson, The buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, 2nd edn., 1994, p. 580; M.C. Barratt, Tickford End, c.2004; and related pages.

Location of archives

No significant archive is known to survive.

Coat of arms

None recorded.

This account was last revised 18th April 2014.

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