WEARSIDE went “Royal Wedding Crazy” in 1981. “Sunderland erupted in a blaze of colour, music, singing and dancing as more than 150 street parties got under way this afternoon,” reported the Echo on July 29.
“Earlier, the area had the appearance of a ghost town as streets were deserted, with friends and neighbours settled down before their television sets to watch the ceremony.
“Many Wearsiders had had little sleep, as they worked well into the early hours to put the finishing touches to their street decorations.”
Among the most patriotic of Wearsiders were the residents of Packham Road, Pennywell, who were “up all night” preparing to celebrate the marriage of Charles and Di. “We scrubbed the street free of oil and dirt last night, then put up the decorations. We finally got to bed at 6am, but were up again two hours later,” said one of the organisers, Mary Harvey.
Sunderland’s town centre was reported as “deserted” on the morning of the wedding, with Wearsiders “staying home to enjoy the colour pageantry of the great occasion on TV.”
Within hours of the ceremony finishing, however, the streets were packed with party-goers and the town’s pubs were full to over-flowing with people celebrating the Royal nuptials.
“Flats and houses in the town were decked with pictures of the Royal couple, with bunting on several estates. It was a scene repeated throughout County Durham too,” reported the Echo.
“In Durham City it was a ‘flask and sandwiches day,’ as housewives were up and about early, determined not to miss a single minute of the television extravaganza.
“Patriotic fever built in Peterlee during the day too, with people out in the sunshine with yards of bunting, flags and trimmings – all aiming to make their streets the most colourful in the area.
“One of the best decorated workingmen’s clubs was The Victoria at Murton, where the dance area was a sea of red, white and blue – the result of hours of work by Murton Ladies R.A.O.B.”
Not everyone, however, was able to take the day off to watch the wedding on TV or take part in a street party.
“Among the Sunderland companies working normally were David Brown Industries and Edward Thompson – both reporting near 100 percent attendances,” concluded the Echo.