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Sunderland Industry

How and why has industry in Sunderland changed?

This half term we have been studying the decline in industry in our city. We started by visiting St. Peter’s church to see where the Anglo-Saxon pioneer, Benedict Biscop, built his monastery and started the production of glass for stained glass windows.


We then were lucky enough to receive a guided tour of Fulwell Windmill and quarry. Here we learnt about the production of flour and the inner workings of the mill. We found out that Sunderland limestone was used to build many important buildings in our city and beyond. Did you know that the cannon ball rocks at Roker and Seaburn are unique to our area? You won’t find them anywhere else in the world.


Next stop, the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens! Here we discovered that “Sunderland Built Ships Sail Every Sea!” As one of the world’s biggest ship building towns, we were sad to hear that the final ship yard closed in the late 80s.


Coal mining played a huge part in Sunderland’s industry. Mr Curtis delivered a fascinating talk answering our questions about the pits in the surrounding area. We love the fact that the Stadium of Light is built upon the old Wearmouth Colliery site and that the Davy Lamp there is constantly lit as a legacy to the dying industry that is so significant to our heritage.


Closure after closure, and many workers facing redundancy, taught us about the struggles that Sunderland families faced. The closure of Vaux Breweries in 1999 was famously quoted as being, “The final nail in the coffin,” in terms of the decline in industry in our city.


We are now able to answer the question: How and why has Sunderland’s industry changed?