7 surprising visitors to Sunderland over the years

Elsie Tanner - alias Pat Phoenix - meets with Vic Halom and Ian Porterfield during a trip to Sunderland in 1973.
Elsie Tanner - alias Pat Phoenix - meets with Vic Halom and Ian Porterfield during a trip to Sunderland in 1973.
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The good, the great and the downright bizarre have made personal appearances in Sunderland over the years – as these archive Echo snaps reveal.

From Dame Sybil Thorndyke and singer Gracie Fields, to musician Charlie Kunz and comedy duo Flotsam and Jetsam – all have wooed Wearside audiences.

Radio ventriloquist Peter Brough with his dummy Archie Andrews in February 1953.

Radio ventriloquist Peter Brough with his dummy Archie Andrews in February 1953.

“One of the most popular, but strange, acts was ventriloquist Peter Brough, whose dummy Archie Andrews was a huge radio star,” said archivist Susan Swinney.

“Also wowing the crowds back in the day was violinist Albert Sandler, who brought dozens of people flocking to see him at a record signing in Binns in 1937.

“One of the stand-out photos, however, must be the one of Pat Phoenix, alias Corrie’s Elsie Tanner, with footballers Vic Halom and Ian Porterfield in 1973.”

Trinidadian musician Edmundo Ross, classical pianist Gerald Moore and Welsh singer Donald Peers all received warm welcomes during visits to Wearside as well.

Musician Charlie Kunz at Sunderland Children's Hospital in November 1938.

Musician Charlie Kunz at Sunderland Children's Hospital in November 1938.

But, not surprisingly, some of the loudest applause was saved for Gracie Fields – who helped to boost people’s spirits during the dark days of World War Two.

“Sunderland has played host to some of the greatest names in the entertainment industry and, luckily, we have a photographic record of it,” added Susan.

l Look out next week for more famous visitors to Sunderland over the years – this time of the political kind.

Gracie Fields pictured by Echo photographers in August 1941.

Gracie Fields pictured by Echo photographers in August 1941.

Radio star Wilfred Pickles and his wife pictured in March 1951 during a visit to Sunderland.

Radio star Wilfred Pickles and his wife pictured in March 1951 during a visit to Sunderland.

Councillor Wayman with comedy duo Mr Flotsam and Mr Jetsam.

Councillor Wayman with comedy duo Mr Flotsam and Mr Jetsam.

Violinist Albert Sandler signing records at Binns in December 1937.

Violinist Albert Sandler signing records at Binns in December 1937.

Film actror Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester pictured in August 1938.

Film actror Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lanchester pictured in August 1938.