Dancing the evening away at Cats Night Out in Seaburn

Gypsy Lee's kiosk at Seaburn where you could get your palm read.
Gypsy Lee's kiosk at Seaburn where you could get your palm read.
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The changing face of Seaburn continued last week with the closure of the Seaburn Leisure Centre and the removal of the Pullman Lodge railway carriage.

Redevelopment of this area is nothing new to the older generation of Wearsiders who have seen many changes to the seafront through the decades.

Seaburn's Pitch and Putt with the Big Dipper in the background.

Seaburn's Pitch and Putt with the Big Dipper in the background.

Philip Curtis, of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, looks back.

By the 1950s Seaburn had taken over from Roker as Sunderland’s leading seaside resort.

Development of the area, completed in the late 1930s and early post-war, brought huge crowds to the sea front. They were attracted there by the fairground, boating lake, pitch and putt course, skating rink and the miniature railway.

The fairground’s heyday arguably arrived in 1955 when the Big Dipper was added. It was based on the famous ride at Battersea and became very popular.

Evening visitors were well catered for in Seaburn Hall with entertainment supplied by Billy Carr and his Orchestra and ‘Cats Night Out’ which regularly packed the hall with rock ‘n’ rollers

Philip Curtis

Also that year, nine colourful kiosks were opened selling sweets, drinks, ice cream, candy floss and shellfish. Visitors could also have their fortune told in one of them by Gypsy Rose Lee.

There were immaculate lawns and colourful flower-beds. A grassed picnic area was behind the kiosks for families to use.

Evening visitors were well catered for in Seaburn Hall with entertainment supplied by Billy Carr and his Orchestra and ‘Cats Night Out’ which regularly packed the hall with rock ‘n’ rollers.

Seaburn was so popular that the Sunderland Corporation even employed an Entertainments Manager to organise activities.

Seaburn Hall.

Seaburn Hall.

In the latter part of the last century the area changed again. In the 1970s, following an accident, the fairground lost its Big Dipper. It was closed following a derailment accident and was deemed unsafe to be used again.

Watch out for more words and pictures on the changing face of Seaburn next Friday.

The late 1930s - the boating lake is developed at Seaburn.

The late 1930s - the boating lake is developed at Seaburn.