Sculpture of John Bell Simpson by Frederick W. Pomeroy (1857-1924),
Sculpture of John Bell Simpson by Frederick W. Pomeroy (1857-1924), Newcastle University

John Bell Simpson was a Newcastle mining engineer. He was one of three children of colliery manager Robert Simpson. He attended Dr Bruce’s Academy, a private school based in Haymarket, Newcastle that prepared boys for careers in trade and industry.

Simpson was responsible, as managing owner, for growing the Stella Coal Company, near Ryton, into a business that produced more than a million tons of coal per year. Later he was employed as a mining engineer to Throckley Coal Company and was subsequently managing director of the Elswick Colliery. Simpson was a director of the Wallsend and Hebburn Coal Co. and also of Walter Scott Ltd. He was consulting mining engineer to the Duke of Northumberland, Viscount Ridley, Viscount Allendale, Lord Barrington, Sir E. Blackett, Sir Henry Lawson, and others. He had two sons, Nelson (born 1870) and James (born 1873), and a daughter Muriel (born 1887).

On his death in 1926, the Journal of Science and Art of Mining (8th May 1926, Page: 332, Column: 2) reported that he was:

“Of a charitable disposition, he gave freely large sums towards public institutions, one of his magnificent gifts being £10,000 for distribution amongst Newcastle charities.”

In addition, he contributed £10,000 towards the costs of erecting the King Edward VII School of Art at Armstrong College, Newcastle, which in 1962 became Newcastle University. He served on the council of the college, then part of Durham University, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Durham in recognition for his many services to the university and the region. He was chairman of the Ryton Local Board and Urban District Council for 50 years and Alderman of Durham County Council.


Grace's Guide. (2018). John Bell Simpson, Available here (Accessed 07/06/2018).

North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. (2016). John Bell SimpsonAvailable here (Accessed 7 June 2018).

The Durham Mining Museum. (2018). The Science and Art of Mining - Dr John Bell Simpson, Available here (Accessed 7 June 2018).