Following in the footsteps of Newcastle, Sunderland has also transformed itself in recent years from a town who’s background is heavy industry, shipbuilding and coal mining into a modern city. At a cost of over £200 million run down areas have been completly modernised and regenerated to create a city worth visiting. This development has created new areas such as Sunniside with trendy bars, restaurants, multi screen cinema, landscaped inner sity garden and Casino. Sunderland Football clubs football stadium, The Stadium of light was built to replace Roker Park.
Sunderland (possibly ‘Soender-land’ – divided by the river) became a city in 1992. It has a long history, originally having been three villages in medieval times. It had become a thriving, prosperous town by the end of the Middle Ages. Since the 14th century, ship building has been important to Sunderland and had become the most important ship building centre in the country by the middle of the 18th century. Other industries were important too, such as glass making and coal mining. Now, a lot of these industries have died out and there are new ones, including paper manufacture, chemicals and electronics. The service industries, including sophisticated call centres, are also prevalent, and on these new industries depends much of Sunderland’s economy. Having said that, a lot of its industrial heritage remains, and it is a thriving centre for all kinds of businesses.
For the visitor, Sunderland has many buildings of historical interest. A notable example is St Peter’s Church, Monkwearmouth, which was founded in 674AD. Sunderland Minster was originally known as Bishopwearmouth Parish Church (St Michael’s), and built in 1719 was Holy Trinity, now closed and cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. These are just some of the places of interest for visitors to Sunderland, and anyone who considers it to be purely industrial is sadly mistaken!
Sunderland sits at the mouth of the River Wear and so is close to the coast – handy for a walk along the beach – and is only 19kms (12 miles) from Newcastle, so close enough for big city life too.