It’s a hidden gem which used to be a little haven in Sunderland

Pensioners enjoy a relaxing game in the Burn Park hut.
Pensioners enjoy a relaxing game in the Burn Park hut.
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Sunderland can boast many fine parks and most are well used throughout the year.

However, there is one city spot that is rarely used by Wearsiders - Burn Park.

Sledging in Burn Park in 1950.

Sledging in Burn Park in 1950.

Philip Curtis, of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, takes a look.

Thousands drive past it every day on their way into and out of the city.

It was originally part of the Burn Park Fields, and the park is situated on Durham Road. Today it is one of the city’s smallest parks but that was not always the case.

It was given its current name when it first opened in 1881 on both sides of Durham Road and quickly became popular with the locals.

Both sides of the park were little beauty spots but it was the north side that was more popular with the public.

Philip Curtis

Both sides of the park were little beauty spots but it was the north that was more popular. It was used more and it had benches and a purpose-built hut for pensioners.

This was usually full every day with men enjoying dominoes, playing cards or just relaxing.

Despite public objections, the north side was eventually demolished in 1971 to make way for the new Durham Road dual carriageway. The hut and benches were not transferred and this began the decline in numbers.

Currently, only half of the south side is accessible to the public, the other half being fenced off. However there remains running through the south area the reason for the park’s name – the burn.

The old drinking fountain in Burn Park.

The old drinking fountain in Burn Park.

Early documents record that the local inhabitants have the right to bleach their linen and take water for that purpose from the burn. These rights were contested in 1760 but without success.

Today the old fountain that once stood proudly is no more with only an empty plinth as evidence that it was ever there at all. There are no benches but a small bridge still straddles the old burn.

Burn Park now seems to be more of a green roundabout with few visitors.

But next time you are passing by, do stop, and take a look.

Burn Park Hut was in the north end of the park.

Burn Park Hut was in the north end of the park.