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Sunderland, Tyne and Wear

Clockwise, from top: Echo 24 and the Wearmouth Bridge, Roker Lighthouse, the National Glass Centre, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Fulwell Mill and Penshaw Monument
Sunderland is located in Tyne and Wear
 Sunderland shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 174,286 (2011 Census)[1]
Demonym Mackem
OS grid reference
   – London  240 mi (387 km) SSE 
Metropolitan borough Sunderland
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SR1, SR2, SR3, SR4, SR5, SR6, SR9
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Houghton and Sunderland South
Sunderland Central
Washington and Sunderland West
List of places
Tyne and Wear

Sunderland (, local ) is a city at the centre of the City of Sunderland metropolitan borough, in Tyne and Wear, North East England. It is situated at the mouth of the River Wear.

Historically in County Durham, there were three original settlements on the site of modern-day Sunderland. On the north side of the river, Monkwearmouth was settled in 674 when Benedict Biscop founded the Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery. Opposite the monastery on the south bank, Bishopwearmouth was founded in 930. A small fishing village called Sunderland, located toward the mouth of the river (modern day East End) was granted a charter in 1179.

Over the centuries, Sunderland grew as a port, trading coal and salt. Ships began to be built on the river in the 14th century. By the 19th century, the port of Sunderland had grown to absorb Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth.

A person who is born or lives around the Sunderland area is sometimes colloquially known as a Mackem.[2][3]


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • 17th and 18th centuries 1.2
    • 19th century 1.3
    • Victoria Hall Disaster 1.4
    • 20th century to present 1.5
  • Governance 2
  • Geography 3
    • Suburbs 3.1
  • Demography 4
    • Religion 4.1
  • Economy 5
    • Ship building and coal mining 5.1
    • Other industry 5.2
    • Regeneration 5.3
  • Transport 6
    • The Port 6.1
    • Rail 6.2
    • Metro 6.3
    • Road 6.4
    • Bus 6.5
    • Cycle 6.6
  • Culture and attractions 7
    • Literature and art 7.1
    • Music 7.2
    • Theatre 7.3
    • Media, film and television 7.4
    • Events 7.5
    • Attractions 7.6
  • Sport 8
  • Education 9
  • Twin towns and sister cities 10
  • Notable residents 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth. Only the porch and part of the west wall are what remain of the original monastery built in 674.

Early history

The earliest inhabitants of the Sunderland area were Stone Age hunter-gatherers and artifacts from this era have been discovered, including microliths found during excavations at St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.[4] During the final phase of the Stone Age, the Neolithic period (c. 4000 – c. 2000 BC), Hastings Hill, on the western outskirts of Sunderland, was a focal point of activity and a place of burial and ritual significance. Evidence includes the former presence of a cursus monument.[5] It is believed the Brigantes inhabited the area around the River Wear in the pre- and post-Roman era. There is a long-standing local legend that there was a Roman settlement on the south bank of the River Wear on what is the site of the former Vaux Brewery, although no archaeological investigation has taken place.[6] Recorded settlements at the mouth of the Wear date to 674, when an Anglo-Saxon nobleman, Benedict Biscop, granted land by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria, founded the Wearmouth-Jarrow (St. Peter's) monastery on the north bank of the river – an area that became known as Monkwearmouth. Biscop's monastery was the first built of stone in Northumbria. He employed glaziers from France and in doing so he re-established glass making in Britain.[7] In 686 the community was taken over by Ceolfrid, and Wearmouth-Jarrow became a major centre of learning and knowledge in Anglo-Saxon England with a library of around 300 volumes.[8]

The Codex Amiatinus, described by White as the 'finest book in the world',[9][10] was created at the monastery and was likely worked on by Bede, who was born at Wearmouth in 673.[11] This is one of the oldest monasteries still standing in England. While at the monastery, Bede completed the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) in 731, a feat which earned him the title: The father of English history.[12]

In the late 8th century, the Vikings raided the coast, and by the middle of the 9th century, the monastery had been abandoned. Lands on the south side of the river were granted to the Bishop of Durham by Athelstan of England in 930; these became known as Bishopwearmouth and included settlements such as Ryhope which fall within the modern boundary of Sunderland.[13][14]

In 1100, Bishopwearmouth parish included a fishing village at the southern mouth of the river (now the East End) known as 'Soender-land' (which evolved into 'Sunderland').[15] This settlement was granted a charter in 1179 by Hugh Pudsey, then the Bishop of Durham.[16]

From 1346 ships were being built at Wearmouth, by a merchant named Thomas Menville.[17] In 1589, salt was made in Sunderland.[18] Large vats of seawater, were heated using coal. As the water evaporated the salt remained. This process, known as salt panning, gave its name to Bishopwearmouth Panns; the modern-day name of the area the pans occupied is Pann's Bank, on the river bank between the city centre and the East End. As coal was required to heat the salt pans, a coal mining community began to emerge. Only poor quality coal was used in salt panning; quality coal was traded via the port, which subsequently began to grow.[19]

17th and 18th centuries

Holy Trinity church, built in 1719

Before the 1st English civil war the North with the exclusion of Kingston upon Hull declared for the King. In 1644 the North, was captured by parliament.[20] Sunderland was taken in March 1644.[21] One artifact of the English civil war in Sunderland was the long trench; a tactic of later warfare.[21]

Skirmishes occurred in the Offerton and Boldon areas.[22] Parliament blockaded the River Tyne, crippling the Newcastle coal trade which allowed the Sunderland coal trade to flourish. Because of the difficulty for colliers trying to navigate the shallow waters of the Wear, the coal was loaded onto keels (large boats) and taken downriver to the waiting colliers. The keels were manned by a close-knit group of workers known as 'keelmen'.[23]

In 1719, the parish of Sunderland was carved from the densely populated east end of Bishopwearmouth by the establishment of a new parish church, Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland (today also known as Sunderland Old Parish Church). The three original settlements Wearmouth (Bishopwearmouth, Monkwearmouth and Sunderland) had begun to combine, driven by the success of the port of Sunderland and salt panning and shipbuilding along the banks of the river. Around this time, Sunderland was known as 'Sunderland-near-the-Sea'.[24]

In 1796 the world's second iron bridge was constructed in the city.[25]

19th century

Local government was divided between the three parishes (Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland, St. Michael's, Bishopwearmouth, and St. Peter's, Monkwearmouth) and when cholera broke out in 1831, the "select vestrymen", as the church councilmen were called, were unable to cope with the epidemic.[26] Sunderland, a main trading port at the time, was the first British town to be struck with the 'Indian cholera' epidemic.[27] The first victim, William Sproat, died on 23 October 1831. Sunderland was put into quarantine, and the port was blockaded, but in December of that year the disease spread to Gateshead and from there, it rapidly made its way across the country, killing an estimated 32,000 people. Among those to die was Sunderland's Naval hero Jack Crawford. The novel The Dress Lodger by American author Sheri Holman is set in Sunderland during the epidemic.[28]

Demands for

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See also

Notable residents

Sunderland is twinned with:

Twin towns and sister cities

There are twenty secondary schools in the Sunderland area, predominantly comprehensives. According to exam results, the most successful was the Sunderland High School, an independent selective school in Ashbrooke.[120] However, comprehensive schools also thrive, particularly the Roman Catholic single-sex schools St. Anthony's (for girls) and St. Aidan's (for boys). Both continue to attain high exam results. There are seventy-six primary schools in Sunderland. According to the 'Value Added' measure, the most successful is Mill Hill Primary School, in Doxford Park.[121]

Sunderland College is a further education establishment with five campuses located at the Bede centre on Durham Road, Shiney Row, Hylton, Doxford International Business Park and 'Phoenix House' in the city centre. It has over 14,000 students, and based on exam results is one of the most successful colleges.[117] St Peter's Sixth Form College, next to St Peter's Church and the University, opened in September 2008.[118] The college is a partnership between the three Sunderland North schools and City of Sunderland College.[119]

The University of Sunderland was named the top university in England for providing the best student experience by The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) in 2006. Since 2001 Sunderland has been named the best new university in England by The Guardian and Government performance indicators showed Sunderland as the best new university in England for the quality, range and quantity of its research.[116]

Sunderland Polytechnic was founded in 1969, becoming the University of Sunderland in 1992.[113] The institution currently has over 17,000 students.[114] The university is split into two campuses; the City Campus (site of the original Polytechnic) is just to the west of the city centre, as is the main university library and the main administrative buildings. The 'Award-Winning' St Peter's Riverside Campus is located on the north banks of the river Wear, next to the National Glass Centre and houses the School of Business, Law and Psychology, as well as Computing and Technology and The Media Centre.[115]

St Peter's Riverside Campus at Monkwearmouth


Speedway racing was staged at the greyhound stadium in nearby East Boldon. The Sunderland Saints of 1964 closed after 8 meetings. The track re-opened in the early 1970s and known as the Stars and then the Gladiators, raced in the National league Division Two.

Athletics is also a popular sport in the city, with Sunderland Harriers Athletics Club based at Silksworth Sports Complex. 800 m runner Gavin Massingham represented the club at the AAA Championships in 2005. On 25 June 2006, the first Great Women's Run took place along Sunderland's coastline. Among the field which lined up to start the race were Olympic silver medallists Sonia O'Sullivan of the Republic of Ireland and Gete Wami of Ethiopia, who eventually won the race. The race quickly became an annual fixture in the city's sporting schedule, with races in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, the race will be relaunched as the Great North 10K Run, allowing male competitors to take part for the first time, on 12 July.[112] The route will also be extended to incorporate the city centre, as well as Sunderland's riverside and coastline. The Great North Walk, which began in June 2008, will also return to Sunderland in 2009.

On 18 April 2008, the Sunderland Aquatic Centre was opened. Constructed at a cost of £20 million, it is the only Olympic sized 50 m pool between Leeds and Edinburgh and has six diving boards, which stand at 1 m, 3 m and 5 m.[111]

Sunderland Aquatic Centre, located next to the Stadium of Light, holds the only Olympic-sized swimming pool in North-East England

The Crowtree Leisure Centre has also played host to a number of important boxing matches and snooker championships including the 2003 Snooker World Trickshot and Premier League Final. In September 2005, BBC TV cameras captured international boxing bouts featuring local boxers David Dolan, Stuart Kennedy and Tony Jeffries. The latter became Sunderland's first Olympic medallist when he won a bronze medal in the light heavyweight boxing category for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

From 1976 until 1995, Sunderland had a basketball team, winners of the national championship play-off final, at Wembley, in 1981 and 1983. The team qualified for European competition in 1982, and were also play-off runners-up, to Crystal Palace, in 1982. Named 'Sunblest Sunderland' the team played at the Crowtree Leisure Centre.

View of the Stadium of Light from the opposite side of the River Wear.

Sunderland had an ice hockey team from 1977 and temporarily inherited the Durham Wasps in 1994 when Durham City's ice rink closed and the team was bought by John Hall. They played home games at Sunderland's Crowtree Leisure Centre until Newcastle Arena opened in 1995 and the team relocated again. Durham's ice hockey team has since undergone several name changes and is currently the Newcastle Vipers.

Sunderland's amateur Rugby and Cricket clubs are both based in Ashbrooke.[109][110] The Ashbrooke ground was opened on 30 May 1887.

The only professional sporting team in Sunderland is the football team, Sunderland A.F.C., which was formed in 1879 and was elected to the Football League in 1890.[106] The club, which currently plays in the FA Premier League, is based at the 49,000 seat capacity Stadium of Light, which was opened in 1997.[107] Sunderland A.F.C also has the north-east's top women's football team, Sunderland A.F.C. Women, They currently play in the top tier of English women's football – FA Women's Super League. Despite their financial struggles. Sunderland were league champions six times within the Football League's first half century, but have not achieved this accolade since 1936. Their other notable successes include FA Cup glory in 1937 and 1973 and winning the Division One title with a (then) English league record of 105 points in 1999. Sunderland's longest stadium occupancy so far was of Roker Park for 99 years beginning in 1898, with relocation taking place due to the stadium's confined location and the need to build an all-seater stadium. The initial relocation plan, announced in the early 1990s, had been for a stadium to be situated alongside the Nissan factory, but these were abandoned in favour of the Stadium of Light at Monkwearmouth on the site of a colliery on the banks of the River Wear that had closed at the end of 1993.[108] The city also has two non-league sides, Sunderland Nissan F.C. of the Northern League Division One and Sunderland Ryhope Community Association F.C. of the Northern League Division Two.


The City of Sunderland has been commended several times on its commitment to preserving its natural faculties. As such, Sunderland has been awarded prestigious titles by the Britain in Bloom collective in 1993, 1997 and 2000.

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, on Borough Road, was the first municipally funded museum in the country outside London. It houses a comprehensive collection of the locally produced Sunderland Lustreware pottery. The City Library Arts Centre, on Fawcett Street, also houses the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

The Winter Gardens, Sunderland, from Mowbray Park

The National Glass Centre opened in 1998, reflecting Sunderland's distinguished history of glass-making. Despite sustained support from the Arts Council the centre has struggled to meet visitor targets since it opened.[105]

Beach at Roker

Notable attractions for visitors to Sunderland include the 14th century Hylton Castle and the beaches of Roker and Seaburn.


Sunderland's inaugural film festival took place in December 2003 at the Bonded Warehouse on Sunderland riverside, in spite of the lack of any cinema facilities in the city at that time, featuring the films of local and aspiring directors as well as reshowings of acclaimed works, such as Alan Bleasdale's The Monocled Mutineer, accompanied by analysis.[104] By the time of the second festival commencing on 21 January 2005, a new cinema multiplex had opened in Sunderland to provide a venue which allowed the festival to showcase over twenty films.

Every year the city hosts a large Remembrance Day memorial service, the largest in the UK outside of London in 2006.[103]

Sunderland also hosts the free International Festival of Kites, Music and Dance, which attracts kite-makers from around the world to Northumbria Playing Fields, Washington.

Each year on the last weekend in July, the city hosts the Sunderland International Airshow. It takes place primarily along the sea front at Roker and Seaburn,

The Red Arrows display team perform at the 2009 Sunderland International Airshow


Sunderland's first film company was established in 2008; and is known as "Tanner Films Ltd" and is based in the Sunniside area of the city. The companies first film, "King of the North" starring Angus MacFadyen and set in the Hetton-le-Hole area of the city; is currently under production.[102]

It also has its own commercial station Sun FM formerly an independent station it's now owned by media giant UKRD, a "proper" community radio station Spark FM and a hospital radio station – Radio Sunderland for Hospitals, and can receive other north-eastern independent radio stations Metro Radio, Magic 1152, Capital North East and Real Radio. The current regional BBC radio station is BBC Radio Newcastle. The regional DAB multiplex for the Sunderland area is operated by Bauer DIGITAL RADIO LTD. – owned by Bauer Digital Radio plc. The city is covered by BBC North East and Cumbria and ITV's Tyne Tees franchise, which has a regional office in the University's Media Centre.[101]

Sunderland has two local newspapers: the daily evening tabloid The Sunderland Echo, founded in 1873, and the Sunderland Star – a free newspaper.[100]

Media, film and television

The Sunniside area plays host to a number of smaller theatrical workshops and production houses, as well as the Theatre Restaurant, which combines a dining experience with a rolling programme of musical theatre.[99]

The Royalty Theatre on Chester Road is the home to the amateur Royalty Theatre Group who also put on a number of low-budget productions throughout the year. Film producer David Parfitt belonged to this company before achieving worldwide fame and is now a patron of the theatre.[98]

The Sunderland Empire Theatre opened in 1907 on High Street West in the city centre. It is the largest theatre in between Edinburgh and London, and completed a comprehensive refurbishment in 2004. Operated by international entertainment group Live Nation, the Empire is the only theatre between Glasgow and Leeds with sufficient capacity to accommodate large West End productions.[96] It is infamous for playing host to the final performance of British comic actor Sid James who died of a heart attack whilst on stage in 1976.[97]

The Sunderland Empire


In 2013 local band Frankie and The Heartstrings opened a temporary pop up record store in the city, Pop Recs Ltd.[95] Initially only intended to remain open for a fortnight, the store remains open and has hosted live performances from acts including The Cribs, The Vaccines and The Charlatans.

Since 2009, Sunderland: Live in the City has played host to a series of free and ticketed live music events throughout venues in the city centre. Sunderland also hosts the yearly Split Music Festival at Ashbrooke Cricket Club which was first celebrated in October 2009 and will return in 2010 with Maxïmo Park and The Futureheads headlining.

The Manor Quay, the students' union nightclub on St. Peter's Riverside at the University of Sunderland, has also hosted the Arctic Monkeys, Maxïmo Park, 911, the Levellers and Girls Aloud. In 2009, the club was taken into private ownership under the name Campus and hosted N-Dubz, Ocean Colour Scene, Little Boots, Gary Numan and Showaddywaddy but has since been returned to the university. The former students' union Wearmouth Hall hosted Voice of the Beehive, Manic Street Preachers, The Primitives and Radiohead before closing in 1992.

Independent, a city centre nightclub/music venue, satisfies underground music lovers.

The Empire Theatre sometimes plays host to music acts.

The Sunderland Stadium of Light, home to Sunderland AFC, is recognised as a major stadium concert venue.

In May 2005, Sunderland played host to BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend concert at Herrington Country Park, attended by 30,000 visitors and which featured Foo Fighters, Kasabian, KT Tunstall, Chemical Brothers and The Black Eyed Peas.[93][94]

Other Mackem musicians include punk rockers The Toy Dolls ("Nellie the Elephant", December 1984), punk band Leatherface, the lead singer of dance outfit Olive, Ruth Ann Boyle ("You're Not Alone", May 1997) and A Tribe of Toffs ("John Kettley is a Weatherman", December 1988).

Sunderland musicians that have gone on to reach international fame include Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and all four members of Kenickie and whose vocalist Lauren Laverne later became known as a TV presenter. In recent years, the underground music scene in Sunderland has helped promote the likes of Frankie & the Heartstrings, The Futureheads, The Golden Virgins and Field Music.


The Salford-born painter, L. S. Lowry, was a frequent visitor, staying in the Seaburn Hotel in Sunderland.[92] Many of his paintings of seascapes and shipbuilding are based on Wearside scenes. The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art on Fawcett Street and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens showcase exhibitions and installations from up-and-coming and established artists alike, with the latter holding an extensive collection of LS Lowry. The National Glass Centre on Liberty Way also exhibits a number of glass sculptures.

Lewis Carroll was a frequent visitor to the area. He wrote most of Jabberwocky at Whitburn as well as "The Walrus and the Carpenter".[88] Some parts of the area are also widely believed to be the inspiration for his Alice in Wonderland stories, such as Hylton Castle and Backhouse Park.[89] There is a statue to Carroll in Whitburn library. Lewis Carroll was also a visitor to the Rectory of Holy Trinity Church, Southwick; then a township independent of Sunderland. Carroll's connection with Sunderland, and the area's history, is documented in Bryan Talbot's 2007 graphic novel Alice in Sunderland.[90] More recently, Sunderland-born Terry Deary, writer of the series of Horrible Histories books, has achieved fame and success, and many others such as thriller writer Sheila Quigley, are following his lead.[91]

The Walrus in Mowbray Park, Sunderland

Literature and art

Culture and attractions

There are a number of cycle routes that run through and around Sunderland. The National Cycle Network National Route 1 runs from Ryhope in the south, through the centre of the city, and then along the coast towards South Shields. Britain's most popular long-distance cycle route – The 'C2C' Sea to Sea Cycle Route – traditionally starts (or ends) when the cyclist dips their wheel in the sea on Roker beach. The 'W2W' 'Wear-to-Walney' route, and the 'Two-Rivers' (Tyne and Wear) route also terminate in Sunderland.


A multimillion-pound transport interchange at Park Lane was opened on 2 May 1999 by the then Brookside actor Michael Starke. With 750,000 passengers per year it is the busiest bus and coach station in Britain after Victoria Coach Station in Central London, and has won several awards for innovative design.[87] The majority of bus services in Sunderland are provided by Stagecoach in Sunderland and Go North East, with a handful of services provided by Arriva North East. Apart from these, there are also inter state and inter city route buses mainly operated by National Express and Megabus . A new Metro station was built underneath the bus concourse to provide a direct interchange as part of the extension to South Hylton in 2002.


In Autumn 2007 the Southern Radial Route was opened. This is a bypass of the A1018 through Grangetown and Ryhope – a stretch that commonly suffered from congestion, especially during rush hour. The bypass starts just south of Ryhope, and runs parallel to the cliff tops into Hendon, largely avoiding residential areas.

The A1018 and A183 roads both start in the centre of South Shields and enter Sunderland from the north, before merging to cross the Wearmouth Bridge. The A1018 follows a direct route from Shields to Sunderland, the A183 follows the coast. After crossing the bridge, the A1018 follows a relatively straight path to the south of Sunderland where it merges with the A19. The A183 becomes Chester Road and heads west out of the city to the A1 at Chester-le-Street.

The A1231 starts in the city centre, crosses the Queen Alexandra Bridge and runs through Washington to the A1. Most of this road is national speed limit dual carriageway.

There are no motorways that run through the Sunderland urban area. The largest and busiest road is the A19, which runs north-to-south along the western edge of the urban area, crossing the River Wear at Hylton. The A19 originally ran through the city centre until the bypass was built in the 1970s, the route is now the A1018. There are four main roads which support the city centre. The A690 Durham Road terminates in the city centre, and runs all the way to Crook, County Durham via the city of Durham. This is the main road supporting the south-west of the city.

Illustration of the main roads through Sunderland.


In March 2014 Metro owner Nexus proposed an extension of the network by the creation of an “on-street” tram link which would connect the city centre to South Shields to the north and Doxford Park to the west.[86]

In May 2002 the Tyne and Wear Metro was extended to Sunderland in an official ceremony attended by The Queen, twenty-two years after it originally opened in Newcastle upon Tyne. The line now stretches deeper into South Tyneside and into Sunderland, incorporating Seaburn, Millfield, Pallion, as well as Sunderland's mainline railway station and stations at the Park Lane Transport Interchange and both campuses of the University of Sunderland before terminating at South Hylton.

Pallion Metro station on the Tyne and Wear Metro is a small suburban station in Sunderland.


When Virgin Trains East Coast were announced as the winners of the InterCity East Coast franchise in November 2014 their plans included a daily service from Sunderland to London Kings Cross to commence in December 2015.[85]

In 2006, Grand Central Railway announced plans to operate a direct service between Sunderland and London King's Cross via York, a service which had been stripped from Wearside twenty years earlier. A scaled-down service of one train each day began in December 2007, twelve months after the initial launch date, due to delays caused by restoring rolling stock and a protracted court case against the now defunct GNER franchise (which Grand Central won). The service increased to three departures daily each way on 1 March 2008, connecting a line which can run from Edinburgh to London. The service has proved so popular that a fourth direct train is now in operation.

From 1998 to 2004, Northern Spirit and subsequently Arriva Trains Northern ran bihourly direct trains from Sunderland to Liverpool Lime Street via Durham, Darlington, York, Leeds and Manchester. The services were withdrawn due to a change of franchise which saw the First TransPennine Express route gain a franchise in its own right, distinct from the Regional Railways network which Arriva had inherited. Services now terminate at Newcastle, and a separate service also travels to Middlesbrough, but both only stretch as far as Manchester Airport.

Sunderland station was opened in 1879[81] but was completely redesigned to facilitate football teams and officials from countries who were drawn to play at Roker Park during England's hosting of the 1966 World Cup. The station as it currently stands was opened on 4 November 1965 and since then little has changed in terms of the general appearance of the station. Situated on an underground level, the station is generally considered an eyesore .[82] It was renovated in 2005, backed by the artistic team which designed the stations along the Wearside extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro in 2002.[83][84] It is situated on the Durham Coast Line served by direct Northern Rail services to Newcastle upon Tyne, Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough, as well as further afield to Hexham, Carlisle and the Gateshead MetroCentre. These services run hourly in each direction, cut from half-hourly on 12 December 2005.

Grand Central Trains operate 3 daily services from Sunderland to London King's Cross


The river berths are deepwater and tidal, while the South Docks are entered via a lock with an 18.9 m beam restriction.[80]

The Port of Sunderland is the second largest municipally owned port in the U.K.[78] The port offers a total of 17 quays[79] handling cargoes including forest products, non-ferrous metals, steel, aggregates and refined oil products, limestone, chemicals and maritime cranes.[78] It also handles offshore supply vessels and has ship repair and drydocking facilities.

The Port


The Port of Sunderland, owned by the city council, has been earmarked for medium-term redevelopment with a focus on mixed-use industry.[77]

The Port

The Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) is a proposed transport link from the A19, through the city centre, to the port. A major phase of the plan is the creation of a new bridge, which will link the A1231 Wessington Way on the north of the river with the Grove site in Pallion, on the south of the river. In 2008, Sunderland City Council offered the residents of Sunderland the opportunity to vote on the design of the bridge. The choices were a 180 metres (590 ft) iconic cable-stayed bridge, which would result in a temporary increase in council tax, or a simple box structure which would be within the council's budget.[74] The results of the consulatation were inconclusive, with residents keen to have an iconic bridge, but reluctant to have a subsequent increase in tax to fund it.[75] Regardless of the ultimate design of the new bridge, the landing point will be the former Grove Cranes site in Pallion. Plans for this site focus around the creation of a new residential area, with homes, community buildings, commercial and retail space.[76]

Grove and Transport Corridor

Redevelopment of the Monkwearmouth Colliery site, which sits of the north bank of the river Wear opposite the Vaux site, began in the mid-1990s with the creation of the Stadium of Light. In 2008, it was joined by the Sunderland aquatic centre. The Sheepfolds industrial estate occupies a large area of land between the Stadium and the Wearmouth Bridge. Sunderland arc are in the process of purchasing land in the Sheepfolds, with a view to relocate the businesses and redvelop the site. The emphasis of development plans include further sporting facilities, in order to create a Sports Village. Other plans include a hotel, residential accommodation, and a footbridge linking the site with the Vaux development.[73]

Stadium Village
Keel Square, completed in 2015, is a symbol of Sunderland's continuing regeneration and also the city's maritime heritage

Since the closure of the Vaux brewery in 1999, a 26-acre (110,000 m2) brownfield site has lain dormant in the centre of Sunderland. The land is subject to dispute between supermarket chain Tesco, who bought the site in 2001, and Sunderland arc, who submitted plans for its redevelopment in 2002.[70] During formal negotiations, Tesco stated they would be willing to sell the land to arc, if an alternative city centre site could be found. Possibilities include Holmeside Triangle, and the Sunderland Retail Park in Roker. Arc hope to begin development in 2010.[70] Arc's plans for the site were approved by the Secretary of State in 2007, and include extensive office space, hotels, leisure and retail units, residential apartments and a new £50 m Crown and Magistrates court. The central public arcade will be located under an expansive glass canopy. It is hoped an "evening economy" can be encouraged which will complement the city's nightlife.[71] In 2013 in the area opposite the Vaux site, Sunderland City Council announced the Keel Square project, a new public space designed to commemorate Sunderand's maritime heritage, which was completed in May 2015.[72] Construction commenced in 2014.

Vaux and Farringdon Row

Sunderland City Council's Unitary Development Plan (UDP) outlines ambitious regeneration plans for a number of sites around the city.[69] The plans are supported by Sunderland Arc, an urban regeneration company funded by the City council, One NorthEast and the Homes and Communities Agency.

In 2004, redevelopment work began in the Sunniside area in the east-end of the city centre, including a multiplex cinema, a multi-storey car park, restaurants, a casino and tenpin bowling. Originally the River Quarter, the site was renamed Limelight in 2005, and renamed in 2008, when it became Sunniside Leisure. Sunniside Gardens were landscaped, and a number of new cafes, bars and restaurants were opened. Up-market residential apartments were developed, including the Echo 24 building.[68]

Sunderland Corporation's massive post-war housing estate developments at Farringdon, Pennywell and Grindon have all passed into the ownership of Gentoo (previously 'Sunderland Housing Group'), a private company and a Registered Social Landlord.

In 2000, The Bridges shopping centre was extended towards Crowtree Road and the former Central Bus Station, attracting national chain stores. This was followed by adjacent redevelopments on Park Lane.

Sunderland Marina, part of redevelopment of the riverside

The former shipyards along the Wear were transformed with a mixture of residential, commercial and leisure facilities including St. Peter's Campus of the University of Sunderland, University accommodation along the Fish Quay on the South side of the river, the North Haven housing and marina development, the National Glass Centre, the Stadium of Light and Hylton Riverside Retail Park. Also in 2007, the Echo 24 luxury apartments opened on Pann's Bank overlooking the river. In 2008 the Sunderland Aquatic Centre opened adjacent to the Stadium of Light, containing the only Olympic-size swimming pool between Leeds and Edinburgh.

Also in the late 1980s, new service industries moved into sites such as the Doxford International Business Park in the south west of the city, attracting national and international companies. Sunderland was named in the shortlist of the top seven "intelligent cities" in the world for the use of information technology, in 2004 and 2005.[67]

In the mid-1980s, Sunderland's economic situation began to improve following the collapse of shipbuilding in the town. Japanese car manufacturer Nissan opened the Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK factory in 1986, and the first Nissan Bluebird car being produced later that year.[42] The factory and its supplier companies remain the largest employers in the region, with current cars produced there including the Nissan Qashqai and Nissan Juke. As of 2012 over 500,000 cars are produced annually, and it is the UK's largest car factory.[42]

The Echo 24 apartment building nearing completion. Located on the south banks of the river close to the Wearmouth Bridge, the building is another new landmark on a transformed river-front.

Since the mid-1980s Sunderland has undergone massive regeneration , particularly around the central business district and the river corridor.


In 1855, John Candlish opened a bottleworks, producing glass bottle, with 6 sites at nearby Seaham and at Diamond Hall, Sunderland.

Vaux Breweries was established in the town centre in the 1880s and for 110 years was a major employer. Following a series of consolidations in the British Brewing industry, however, the brewery was finally closed in July 1999.[66] Vaux in Sunderland and Wards in Sheffield had been part of the Vaux Group, but with the closure of both breweries it was re-branded The Swallow Group, concentrating on the hotel side of the business. This was subject to a successful take-over by Whitbread PLC in the autumn of 2000. It is now a brownfield site and this is a derelict site in an urban area.

As with the coal-mining and shipbuilding, overseas competition has forced the closure of all of Sunderland's glass-making factories. Corning Glass Works, in Sunderland for 120 years, closed on 31 March 2007[64] and in January 2007, the Pyrex manufacturing site also closed,[65] bringing to an end commercial glass-making in the city. However, there has been a modest rejuvenation with the opening of the National Glass Centre which, amongst other things, provides international glass makers with working facilities and a shop to showcase their work, predominantly in the artistic rather than functional field.

The Liebherr crane factory is the last remaining heavy industry on the River Wear in Sunderland.

Other industry

Sunderland, part of the Durham coalfield, has a coal-mining heritage that dates back centuries. At its peak in 1923, 170,000 miners were employed in County Durham alone,[63] as labourers from all over Britain, including many from Scotland and Ireland, entered the region. As demand for coal slipped following World War II, mines began to close across the region, causing mass unemployment. The last coal mine closed in 1994. The site of the last coal mine, Wearmouth Colliery, is now occupied by the Stadium of Light, and a miner's Davy lamp monument stands outside of the ground to honour the site's mining heritage. Documentation relating to the region's coalmining heritage are stored at the North East England Mining Archive and Resource Centre (NEEMARC).

Between 1939 and 1945 the Wear yards launched 245 merchant ships totalling 1.5 million tons, a quarter of the merchant tonnage produced in the UK at this period. Competition from overseas caused a downturn in demand for Sunderland built ships toward the end of the 20th century. The last shipyard in Sunderland closed on 7 December 1988.[62]

Once hailed as the "Largest Shipbuilding Town in the World",[60] ships were built on the Wear from at least 1346 onwards and by the mid-18th century Sunderland was one of the chief shipbuilding towns in the country. The Port of Sunderland was significantly expanded in the 1850s with the construction of Hudson Dock to designs by River Wear Commissioner's Engineer John Murray, with consultancy by Robert Stephenson.[61] One famous vessel was the Torrens, the clipper in which Joseph Conrad sailed, and on which he began his first novel. She was one of the most famous ships of her time and can claim to be the finest ship ever launched from a Sunderland yard. She was built in ten months by James Laing at his Deptford yard on the Wear in 1875.

A group of boys who worked on the construction of a Standard ship at a yard in Sunderland during the First World War.

Ship building and coal mining


In 2001 there were 114 people of Jewish faith recorded as living in Sunderland.[57] There was no Jewish community before 1750, though subsequently a number of Jewish merchants from across the UK and Europe settled in Sunderland. A rabbi from Holland was established in the city in 1790. The once thriving Jewish community has been in slow decline since the mid-20th century. Many Sunderland Jews left for stronger Jewish communities in Britain or to Israel.[58] The Jewish primary school, the Menorah School, closed in July 1983. The synagogue on Ryhope Road, opened in 1928, closed at the end of March 2006.[59] (See also Jews and Judaism in North East England)

The area is part of the Anglican Diocese of Durham. It has been in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle since the Catholic hierarchy was restored in 1850.


The most ethnically diverse ward of the city was the (now defunct) Thornholme area. This ward, which included Eden Vale, Thornhill, as well as parts of Hendon, Ashbrooke and the city centre, has long been the focus of Wearside's Bangladeshi community. In Thornholme, 89.4% are white, 7.8% are Asian and 1.3% are mixed-race. The 2001 census also recorded a substantial concentration of Greek nationals, living mainly in Central and Thornholme wards. The least ethnically diverse wards are in the north of the city. The area of Castletown is made up of 99.3% white, 0.4% Asian and 0.2% mixed-race.

According to statistics[56] based on the 2001 census, 60% of homes in the Sunderland metropolitan area are owner occupied, with an average household size of 2.4 people. Three percent of the homes have no permanent residents.

Sunderland is the 13th largest city in England. At 3,874 hectares, Sunderland is the 45th largest urban area in England by measure of area, with a population density of 45.88 people per hectare.

Population of Sunderland urban area
by ward
Ward Population
Castle 11,292
Fulwell 12,906
Redhill 11,867
St Peter's 11,760
Southwick 11,634
Northside total: 59,459
Barnes 12,030
Doxford 11,318
Hendon 11,551
Millfield 10,277
Pallion 10,385
Ryhope 11,217
St Anne's 11,409
St Chad's 10,922
St Michael's 11,626
Sandhill 11,319
Silksworth 11,245
Southside total: 123,299
City total: 182,758


In Marley Pots, the streets are all associated with trees, e.g. Maplewood, Elmwood etc. In Millfield, the streets are all associated with plants, e.g. Chester, Fern, Rose, Hyacinth etc.

Some, mainly local authority-built, Sunderland suburbs have most streets beginning with the same letter:


Most of the suburbs of Sunderland are situated towards the west of the city centre with 70% of its population living on the south side of the river and 30% on the north side. The city extends to the seafront at Hendon and Ryhope in the south and Seaburn in the north.

Much of the city is located on a low range of hills running parallel to the coast. On average, it is around 80 metres Queen Alexandra Bridge at Pallion and the Wearmouth Bridge just to the north of the city centre. To the west of the city, the Hylton Viaduct carries the A19 dual-carriageway over the Wear (see map below).

The Wearmouth Bridge (right) and railway bridge (left). This road was the route of the old A19, now it is the A1018.
Sunderland riverside at sunset


Sunderland has the motto of Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo loosely translated it means Never Despair, Trust In God.[54]

Sunderland was created a municipal borough of County Durham in 1835. Under the Local Government Act 1888, it was given the status of a County Borough, independence from county council control. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the county borough was abolished and its area combined with that of other districts to form the Metropolitan Borough of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear. The metropolitan borough was granted city status after winning a competition in 1992 to celebrate the Queen's 40th year on the throne. The population of this city taken at the 2011 Census was 275,506.[53]

Sunderland Civic Centre (right background) with Mowbray Park to the left. This road was the route of the old A19 until the 1970s .


On 24 March 2004, the city adopted St. Benedict Biscop as its patron saint.[52]

Many fine old buildings remain despite the bombing that occurred during World War II.[50] Religious buildings include Holy Trinity Church, built in 1719 for an independent Sunderland, St. Michael's Church, built as Bishopwearmouth Parish Church and now known as Sunderland Minster and St. Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth, part of which dates from AD 674, and was the original monastery. St. Andrew's Roker, known as the "Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement", contains work by William Morris, Ernest Gimson and Eric Gill.[51]

Like many cities, Sunderland comprises a number of areas with their own distinct histories, Fulwell, Monkwearmouth, Roker, and Southwick on the northern side of the Wear, and Bishopwearmouth and Hendon to the south.

Sunderland – taken from "Green Hill", Tunstall Hills, August 1989

The 20th century saw Sunderland A.F.C. established as the Wearside area's greatest claim to sporting fame. Founded in 1879 as Sunderland and District Teachers A.F.C. by schoolmaster James Allan, Sunderland joined The Football League for the 1890–91 season. By 1936 the club had been league champions on five occasions. They won their first FA Cup in 1937, but their only post-World War II major honour came in 1973 when they won a second FA Cup. They have had a checkered history and dropped into the old third division for a season and been relegated thrice from the Premier League, twice with the lowest points ever,[47] earning the club a reputation as a yo-yo club. After 99 years at the historic Roker Park stadium,[48] the club moved to the 42,000-seat Stadium of Light on the banks of the River Wear in 1997. At the time, it was the largest stadium built by an English football club since the 1920s, and has since been expanded to hold nearly 50,000 seated spectators.[49]

Sunderland received city status in 1992.[46]

From 1990, the banks of the Wear were regenerated with the creation of housing, retail parks and business centres on former shipbuilding sites. Alongside the creation of the National Glass Centre the University of Sunderland has built a new campus on the St. Peter's site. The clearance of the Vaux Breweries site on the north west fringe of the city centre created a further opportunity for development in the city centre.[43][44][45]

Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK Ltd in Sunderland. Factory complex, including wind turbines, taken from Penshaw Monument

Some new industries developed in the area at this time, and the service sector expanded during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986 Japanese car manufacturer Nissan opened its Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK factory in Washington, which has since gone on to become the UK's largest car factory.[42]

During the second half of the 20th century shipbuilding and coalmining declined; shipbuilding ended in 1988 and coalmining in 1993. At the worst of the unemployment crisis up to 20% of the local workforce were unemployed in the mid-1980s.[41]

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Sunderland was a key target of the German Luftwaffe, who claimed the lives of 267 people in the town, caused damage or destruction to 4,000 homes, and devastated local industry. After the war, more housing was developed. The town's boundaries expanded in 1967 when neighbouring Ryhope, Silksworth, Herrington, South Hylton and Castletown were incorporated into Sunderland.

Sunderland viewed from above in 1967

The First World War led to a notable increase in shipbuilding but also resulted in the town being targeted by a Zeppelin raid in 1916. The Monkwearmouth area was struck on 1 April 1916 and 22 lives were lost. Many citizens also served in the armed forces during this period, over 25,000 men from a population of 151,000.[40]

The public transport network was enhanced in 1900 with an electric tram system. The trams were gradually replaced by buses during the 1940s before being completely axed in 1954.

As the former heavy industries have declined, so electronic, chemical, paper and motor manufactures have replaced them, including the city's Nissan car plant.[39]

Sunderland in 1917

20th century to present

The asphyxiation of 183 children aged between three and 14 is the worst disaster of its kind in British history.[35] The memorial, a grieving mother holding a dead child, is located in Mowbray Park inside a protective canopy.[37] Newspaper reports triggered a mood of national outrage and an inquiry recommended that public venues be fitted with a minimum number of outward opening emergency exits, which led to the invention of 'push bar' emergency doors. This law remains in force. The Victoria Hall remained in use until 1941 when it was destroyed by a German bomb.[38]

The Victoria Hall was a large concert hall on Toward Road facing Mowbray Park. The hall was the scene of a tragedy on 16 June 1883 when 183 children died.[33] During a variety show, children rushed towards a staircase for treats.[34] At the bottom of the staircase, the door had been opened inward and bolted in such a way as to leave only a gap wide enough for one child to pass at a time.[35] The children surged down the stairs and those at the front were trapped and crushed by the weight of the crowd behind them.[36]

Victoria Hall Disaster

In 1897, Monkwearmouth became a part of Sunderland. Bishopwearmouth had long since been absorbed.[32]

[31].Southwick and Deptford was built in 1909, linking Queen Alexandra Bridge Further up river, the [30], but over twice as long and only three-quarters the weight. At the time of building, it was the biggest single-span bridge in the world.Ironbridge as being of superb elegance. It was the second iron bridge built after the famous span at Nikolaus Pevsner, and is described by County Durham for Member of Parliament, the Rowland Burdon was built in 1796, at the instigation of Wearmouth Bridge Sunderland developed on a plateau above the river, and never suffered from the problem of allowing people to cross the river without interrupting the passage of high masted vessels. The [29]

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