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How piece of Pyramids came North.

If the First Earl of Durham enjoyed an illustrious life, then another local, George Elliot, ran him close.

It was George's Egyptian connections which allowed him to install a piece of the Pyramids in All Saints Church in Penshaw.

The Earl had the advantage of being born into the aristocracy. For George Elliot the opposite was the case.

He was born in 1815 in Gateshead, the son of a miner, and started work between 10 and 14 as a trapper boy at Whitfield Pit in Penshaw. Given his humble start, George's rise was spectacular. By 17 he had taught himself maths and surveying and by 21 he was pit overman, then chief viewer.

At 26 he was part pit-owner and went on to be proprietor of the mine in which he started work plus those at Oxclose and Biddick.

At 35 he had set up a wire-rope factory that developed into the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, which laid the first Atlantic cable.

Recognition followed riches. He became MP for North Durham in 1868 and was made a baronet in 1874. But Sir George was still known as Geordie Elliot. His other activities ranged from having a new tongue for Big Ben forged at Hopper's Foundry in Houghton, near Penshaw, and advising Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to buy shares in the Suez Canal.

His Egyptian interests saw him given permission by the Khedive of Egypt to take a slab of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

He installed part of the orange granite from the Pyramid in the church wall as a memorial to his family. Another piece is at West Rainton Church. He is buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2005
Words:279
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