When glassblowing was thirsty work and tellies were two bob – remembering Sunderland in the Sixties

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Two bob tellies and the portable juke box. Chris Farlowe and the Vivo Superstore.

They all feature in a new book which, for the keen admirer of city history, is a must-have addition to Wearside’s archives.

The Eastern Rover ready to be launched.

The Eastern Rover ready to be launched.

Here, Chris Cordner reviews the newly published Sunderland in the Swinging Sixties, which has been produced by Alan Brett and Philip Curtis, and is the latest book from Black Cat Publications.

Who remembers two-bob televisions from the Tates Radio Company.

Four hundred people certainly showed an interest in February 1964 when they formed massive queues on the corner of Westwood Street and Hylton Road.

The crowds amassed in the hope of getting their hands on a bulky telly set going for an amazing price.

OK, the sets had heavy tubes and valves.

And OK, they were encased in solid wood cabinets and were a real hassle to take home because of their size. People even brought prams with them to haul their cut-price catch away.

But what a bargain if you could get your hands on one.

The tale of the two-bob telly may be consigned to the history books, but it makes a wonderful story.

And it is just one example in a new book filled with poignant reminders of city life 50 years ago.

It is 40-plus pages of wonderment, with plenty of those “I remember that” moments at each turn.

Whether it’s the adverts for The Omo Treasure Bus (which came to Sunderland in November 1963) or the new KB Discomatic portable juke box (available for 73 guineas at Palmers in 1965), it is a fond look at a period of great change for Wearside.

Even the adverts are golden reminders of an era gone by.

The Vivo Superstore opened in Dundas Street in May 1968 – offering top deals on groceries, fruit and veg.

Ultra modern fridges were going for £63 and three shillings at Binns.

Wades Furniture Store had three-piece suites for 39 guineas and Pryde’s Bakery in Hendon was producing the new County Wonderloaf – the smoothest, silkiest finest bread your family can buy.

As well as shopping, Sunderland was a city of entertainment.

In 1969 alone, The Who, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Free all played at the Bay Hotel.

Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band appeared at the La Strada for a week in January 1968.

And Chris Farlowe was headlining at Annabel – the only London-style club-discotheque in the North, said the poster.

If clublife wasn’t your scene, perhaps sport was.

Charlie Hurley was just one of the icons in a Sunderland team which fought its way back to top-flight football. Two league campaigns had produced two near misses in the lads’ bid to go up a league.

But that all changed in the 1963-64 season when promotion was clinched on the last day of the season in a home match against Charlton Athletic.

As the book says: “Every time Sunderland won a corner at Roker Park, the chant went up ‘Charlie, Charlie’ and he rarely let the crowd down.”

But Sunderland wasn’t just about leisure.

Heavy industry played its part and particularly shipbuilding.

The attached photograph shows the Eastern Rover at North Sands. She’s ready to be launched in July 1961, and is shown with her part-built sister ship in front of her.

Another great quirky story is that of the workers at James A. Jobling’s – a glassblowing business. It was thirsty work. So thirsty in fact, that the men had a beer allowance each shift.

And to get them their ale, canboys were sent to the pubs to collect the beer for the men to drink and replace their lost fluids.

Believe me, these excerpts from this great book are the tip of the iceberg in a publication cram-packed with facts.

Sunderland in the Swinging Sixties is available from Waterstone’s, Sunderland Museum, Sunderland Antiquarian Society and www.summerhillbooks.co.uk