From Academic Kids

This is about the city of Sunderland in England. For other places called Sunderland, see Sunderland (disambiguation)

Template:GBmap Sunderland is an industrial city and port in the English metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear.

Before 1974 it was a county borough and municipal corporation in the traditional county of Durham, North East England. The old county borough has a population of approximately 200,000.

Missing image

City of Sunderland

The City of Sunderland is a metropolitan borough which was created in 1974, and since 1992 has had city status. Somewhat confusingly, the city contains the town of Sunderland, and also the neighboring towns of Washington, Hetton-le-Hole and Houghton-le-Spring. For the purposes of this article "Sunderland" refers to the town of Sunderland as to distinguish it from the city.

Before 1974 the town of Sunderland was a county borough in its own right. And in that year was merged with several surrounding urban districts to form the metropolitan borough.

By official measures of both population and land area, Sunderland is the largest British city between Edinburgh and Leeds.

A person born in Sunderland is sometimes called a Mackem, derived from the term Mak(e)'em and Tak(e)'em used by Tyneside shipbuilders to describe their counterparts on the River Wear in Sunderland when ship building was still present in the area.


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 Located at the mouth of the River Wear, the name "Sunderland" is reputed to come from Soender-land: the land divided by the river. In 674, King Ecgfrith of Northumbria granted a large tract of land to Benedict Biscop to set up a monastery. As a result, the north side of the river became "Monkwearmouth", and the south, still under the authority of the Bishop of Durham was called "Bishopwearmouth", both names which are used to this day, and so Wearmouth was cut asunder by the river, and politics. Biscop imported glassmakers from France who established a workshop at the Monkwearmouth site, re-establishing glassmaking in Britain. This event is commemorated by the National Glass Centre which stands on a nearby site on the river Wear. The monastery quickly became associated with the Venerable Bede, Britain's first historian and first known prose writer.

Prior to the English Civil War in 1642, the bestowing of the rights to the East of England coal trade upon neighbouring Newcastle by King Charles I created resentment between Newcastle and Sunderland. Sunderland thus sided with Parliament during the civil war and was a barrack town for Scottish mercenaries leading the siege of the Royalist Newcastle which fell in 1644. During the Commonwealth Sunderland was given preferred status over the ports on the Tyne and the then town prospered. After the Restoration a number of Royal Charters restricted Sunderland's growth as a trade centre. This history has contributed to a lasting civic enmity between Newcastle and Sunderland, most evident in the intense football rivalry between Newcastle United and Sunderland - one of the longest lasting rivalries in English football.

In 1712 the separate parish of Sunderland was carved from the densely populated east end of Bishopwearmouth, to serve the port. Local government was in the hands of the three churches, and when cholera broke out in 1830 the "select vestrymen" as the church councilmen were called showed themselves completely unable to understand and cope with the epidemic. Demands for democracy and organised town government saw the Borough of Sunderland created in 1836, although impatient citizens elected Andrew White to be Mayor in December 1835.

The first Wearmouth Bridge
The first Wearmouth Bridge

Sunderland developed on plateaux high above the river, and so never suffered from the problem of allowing people to cross the river without interrupting the passage of high masted vessels. The Wearmouth Bridge was built in 1796, at the instigation of Rowland Burdon, the MP, and is described by Nikolaus Pevsner, the recognised authority, as being of superb elegance. It was the second iron bridge built after the famous span at Ironbridge itself, but over twice as long and only three-quarters the weight.

Ships were built on the Wear from at least 1346 onwards and by the mid-eighteenth century Sunderland was probably the chief ship-building town 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 [1] ( One famous vessel was the ‘wonderful’ Torrens, the clipper in which Joseph Conrad sailed, and on which he began his first novel. As Basil Lubbock states, Torrens was one of the most successful ships ever built, besides being one of the fastest, and for many years was the favourite passenger ship to Adelaide. 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 their Deptford yard on the Wear in 1875.

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.

Sunderland Football Club

Domiciled since 1898 at Roker Park, Sunderland were known before World War I as 'the team of all the talents' and such players as Mordue and Cuggy were the pride of the North East. It was a Sunderland player's prowess with the one handed throw-in which led to the two-handed rule. Sunderland was the first club to undertake an overseas tour(1894 the USA). The side won the league championship five times before 1914 and as local rivals Newcastle won it three times, the region was indeed the hotbed of soccer it is often called. From 1911, Sunderland also boasted one of the country's outstanding players in Charlie Buchan. In the 1930s, Sunderland were once more a power in the land and won the championship in 1936 and the F.A. Cup in 1937 with outstanding international forwards like Bobby Gurney and Horatio ('Raich') Carter. After World War II, the team, playing before immense crowds, were championship runners-up in 1949, and could still top the league in 1955, their star player now being the impish Len Shackleton. Their fortunes, however, were on the wane and the club was relegated for the first time in its history. Even the goal-scoring phenomenon, Brian Clough, who scored the fastest 250 league goals in history, could not lift them for long. His loss through injury at Christmas 1963 was a severe blow; by then he had already scored 33 goals. Since then, the club has enjoyed mixed fortunes, the highlight being the spectacular F.A. Cup win in 1973, when Sunderland, then a second division side, defeated three top championship clubs on the way to their triumph. Sunderland's new ground, the Stadium of Light, was voted the best and most friendly ground in the country by the new Guide to Football Grounds (2000).

Next to the North Sea, Sunderland was traditionally a major centre of the shipbuilding and coal mining industries, although the last shipyard closed in 1988 and the last coal mine in 1994. The site of the last coal mine is now occupied by the Stadium of Light, the home ground of football club Sunderland A.F.C.

The Vaux Brewery 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 factory was finally closed in 1996.

As the traditional industries have declined, electronics, chemicals, and paper manufacture have replaced them. Some of these new industries, as well as the Nissan car plant, and the nearby North East Aircraft Museum are in Washington, which has more space to allow purpose built factories. The service sector has countered the decline in heavy industry, and the town is home to many customer service telephone call centres, the quality of which means they have avoided the recent trend towards outsourcing overseas.

Commencing in 1990 the banks of the Wear experienced a massive physical regeneration 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 also created a new campus on the St.Peter's site. The clearance of the Vaux Brewery site on the North East fringe of the City Centre has created a further opportunity for new development in the town centre.

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

The town was the one of the most heavily bombed areas in England during World War II. As a result, much of the town centre was rebuilt in an undistinguished concrete utility style. However, many fine old buildings remain. Religious buildings include Holy Trinity built in 1719 for an independent Sunderland, St Michaels'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, so-called "Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement" is one of the finest churches of its date in the country (1906-10). It contains work by William Morris ,Ernest Gimson and Eric Gill.

Jewish Community in Sunderland

There was no Jewish community before 1750. Merchants and others moved from other parts of the United Kingdom, and Europe and a Rabbi was brought over from Holland in 1769. The community grew slowly, often as a side effect of the coal industry. The port exported coal to the eastern Baltic, but there was little return trade, and some ships accepted Polish Jews, especially from Crottingen, Poland, rather than loss money by returning empty in ballast.

The result for this great trading port was a numerous and thriving Jewish population. The community, which was concentrated in the East End and, later, Ashbrooke, made a positive community to local business and culture. Sir Jack Cohen and Charles Slater, two prominent Sunderland Jews, were highly influential on local politics in the latter half of the 20th century. Slater led the city council for almost two decades until the early 1990s.

The Wearside Jewish community has been in decline since the mid-20th Century. Many Jews moved to other parts of Britain and the world, with some families emigrating to Israel. Other families moved to nearby Newcastle and Gateshead, where larger Jewish communities are in existence. At the 2001 census, 114 people of Jewish faith were recorded as living in Sunderland. The current synagogue, on Ryhope Road, was opened in 1928 and remains in use today.

Current Social and Economic Development

As with most post-industrial towns in the North of England, Sunderland continues to suffer from multi-generational long term unemployment. As a result the linked social factors of crime, poor health and teenage pregnancy are high in certain wards of the City. Sunderland is also victim to a degree of population exodus resulting in an ageing population. Sunderland has also suffered with the regional economic strategy promoting nearby Newcastle and Gateshead as services and leisure centres leading higher income employees to reside outside of the Sunderland area.

In the past ten years, however, Sunderland's prospects have certainly improved. In addition to the giant Nissan factory, new service industries have moved in, creating thousands of jobs. Doxford International Business Park, in the south west of the city, has attracted a host of national and international companies such as Nike, EDF Energy, Barclays, Arriva, T Mobile and Northern Rock. The former shipyard areas along the River Wear have also been transformed, with several high-profile developments close to the watery artery of the city:

St Peter's Campus of the University of Sunderland; North Haven, an executive housing and marina development on the former North Dock at Roker; the National Glass Centre, by St Peter's Church; the Stadium of Light, England's largest new-built football ground for over 50 years, and the 48,000-capacity home of Sunderland A.F.C.; Hylton Riverside Retail Park, a large shopping outlet centre at Castletown.

Sunderland Corporation's massive post-war housing estate developments, such as Pennywell, Grindon, Red House, Hylton Castle, Thorney Close and Town End Farm, together with earlier developments, have all passed into the ownership of Sunderland Housing Group This a private company, and a Registered Social Landlord. Since the housing stock transfer in 2000, there have been considerable improvements to the quality of social housing in the city. The tower blocks at Gilley Law and in Hendon and the East End have been transformed, and the vast estates are also improving, although the plans have not met with universal praise.

The central business district of Sunderland has also been subject to a recent flurry of redevelopment and improvement. The Bridges shopping centre was extended towards Crowtree Road and the former Central Bus Station, attracting new stores such as Gap, Debenhams, Ottakar's, H&M, HMV, TK Maxx and Beaverbrooks. It reopened, twice the size, in 2002. A multi-million pound transport interchange at Park Lane was opened in May 1999. 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.

The Tyne and Wear Metro system, for a long time confined to Tyneside, introduced services from Pelaw to the southern terminus at South Hylton. The trains run at a peak of eight per hour. New stations on the line were opened at Fellgate, Brockley Whins, East Boldon, Seaburn, Stadium of Light (Portobello Lane), St Peter's, Sunderland Central, Park Lane, University (Chester Road), Millfield, Pallion and South Hylton. The service has provided Wearsiders with easy access to national rail services from Newcastle Central station, and international destinations via Newcastle Airport and the ferry terminal at North Shields.

The Sunderland Empire reopened in December 2004 following a major redevelopment allowing it to stage West End shows.

Twin Cities

Since shortly after the Second World War, Sunderland has enjoyed diplomatic and community links with the cities of St Nazaire, in France, and Essen, in Germany.

Other facts

  • Each year, the city hosts the Sunderland International Airshow. It takes place primarily along the sea front at Roker and Seaburn, and is attended by over 1.2 million people annually. It is the largest free airshow in Europe.
  • Also on the sea front, the annual Sunderland illuminations are a huge local attraction.
Missing image
The Winter Gardens, Sunderland, from Mowbray Park
  • Sunderland Museum, on Borough Road, was established in 1852, the first municipally funded museum in the country outside London.

It contains the only British example of a gliding reptile, the oldest known vertebrate capable of gliding flight. In 1876 the Museum moved to a larger building next to Mowbray Park including a Winter Garden based on the model of the Crystal Palace. The Winter Garden was destroyed during the Second World War but in 2001 a lottery funded refurbishment of the Museum created a new Winter Garden extension and improved facilities. In 2003 the Museum was recognised as the most attended outside London. The Museum contains a large collection of the locally made Sunderland Lustreware pottery.
The 'town library', which for decades was housed in the Sunderland Museum building, was moved to the new City Library and Arts Centre. The move left more space for museum exhibits. The new City Library Arts Centre, on Fawcett Street, also houses the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, renowned as one of the leading forums for new artists in the North of England.

L.S. Lowry described his discovery of Sunderland in 1960, after which it became his second home: ‘One day I was travelling south from Tyneside and I realised this was what I had always been looking for.’ Sunderland Museum, with six works and 30 on long-term loan, have a collection surpassed only by Salford and Manchester.

  • Sunderland contains more beach area (and green belt) within its limits than any other English city.

Not far away are the beaches where Lewis Carroll used to walk when visiting his Willcox cousins at Whitburn. He wrote most of ‘Jabberwocky’ at Whitburn aas well as ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’. There is a statue to Carroll in Whitburn library.

  • John Osborne began writing his first play while acting at the Sunderland Empire.
  • Sid James died on stage at the Sunderland Empire.

Famous People from Sunderland

William Paley became Rector of Bishopwearmouth in 1795 and there wrote one of the most famous religious books - Natural Theology (1802. In it he famously described how a complex world implies a creator, just as a watch implies a designer.

See also

External links



Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools