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The settlement developed in the 14th century around the river crossing which was operated by the Lords of Hilton. By the 18th century industries such as shipbuilding were present which contributed to population growth resulting in a census return of almost 500 by 1872.
A campus of Sunderland College is located in the district.
The area was the subject of the painting 'A Breezy Day, North Hylton' by Richard A. Ray.
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