Eli Robert Hooppell (1833 -1895)
The vicar of St Peter’s Church, Byers Green for his last 20 years, a memorial to Rev Hooppell hangs near the pulpit there. He was a learned man, and social reformer who left two legacies to the area.
He was principle of The Nautical College at South Shields when the Roman Station of Arbeia was discovered in the 1860’s, and so began his interest and study of roman antiquities. When at Byers Green he instigated the first archeological dig at Vinovia ,now Binchester Roman Fort supported by John Proud from Bishop Auckland. He lectured widely and wrote extensively of the findings, publishing ‘Vinovia- a buried Roman city’ Whiting & Co. London 1891.
Byers Green was almost the village at the ‘end of the road’ being bound on it’s North side by the River Wear that was only passable by a dangerous ford, and latterly a ferry crossing. Rev Hooppell campaigned and raised funds that resulted in the first permanent crossing to the river – Queen Victoria Jubilee Bridge that takes us to Willington today.