LINDON – TRAVERS William Halton


Situated in the Consecrated/West Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.

The Travers Monument.

The Travers name is well known with modern day cinema goers, specifically with regards to Bill Travers, who was born in Newcastle in 1922. Bill began his acting career in 1949 and went on to star in many films, including Geordie and The Smallest Show on Earth, the most famous of which though was Born Free, co-starring with his wife, Virginia McKenna. The experience made him and Virginia very conscious of the many abuses of wild animals in captivity and they went on to make a number of films around the subject such as 1969’s Ring of Bright Water and An Elephant called Slowly in 1973. The importance of animal rights led Travers and his wife becoming involved in the Zoo Check Campaign in 1984 that evolved to their establishing the Born Free Foundation in 1991. Bill Travers died in Dorking, Surrey, aged 72. His widow, Virginia McKenna, carries on his work alongside her son, Will, and both are regular visitors to Jesmond Old Cemetery, being keen supporters of our work within the Cemetery. 

The monument itself has the names of William Halton Lindon-Travers, Bills father, and Lindon Travers, his Grandfather. According to Frank Manders’ excellent ‘Cinemas of Newcastle’ book, Lindon Travers had a long history of performimg and managing theatres and cinemas within Newcastle, namely the Olympia in 1904, where he often gave ‘chatty lecturettes’ and the Grand Theatre in Wilfred Street, Byker in 1907. His son, W.H. Lindon Travers (Bill’s father) followed in his footsteps, managing the Stoll Theatre on behalf of Sir Oswald Stoll, who acquired the lease of the Tyne Theatre in 1919 and set about transforming it for the presentation of films. Travers introduced a patron’s weekly magazine, The Stoll Sentinel and Tyne Tatler, later The Stoll Herald in 1920, which continued until at least 1927.