10 amazing colour pictures which bring old Sunderland to life

It's all change here at Sunderland's old Central Station in the 1960s.

It's all change here at Sunderland's old Central Station in the 1960s.

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A Wearside man’s unique photographic collection opens up a colourful window onto the area’s past.

 Russell Pyburn captured the changing face of Sunderland on colour slides from the 1960s to the 1980s, documenting demolitions, revamps, shipbuilding and industrial scenes. But his snaps have remained shut away in wooden boxes for years – until now.

Duffel coats, donkey jackets, a flat cap and the John Orwell Phillips - an oil-fired collier built in the 1950s by Pickersgills for North Thames Gas.

Duffel coats, donkey jackets, a flat cap and the John Orwell Phillips - an oil-fired collier built in the 1950s by Pickersgills for North Thames Gas.

 Russell’s grandson, David Smith, said: “My grandfather sadly passed away in 2007 and, while sorting out his flat in Durham, my mother Jacky and my Uncle Brent found over 200 slides.

 “At the time I was living down in Leeds but, since moving back up here, I’ve started sorting through them. I find them fascinating, and thought readers might like to see some.”

 Thomas Russell Pyburn, who was always known as Russell, was born on October 20, 1921, to Wearside businessman Thomas and his wife Agnes Eleanor.

 His early childhood was spent living in a flat above his parents’ pie shop in High Street West – a store well known, and well loved, for its special Pyburn pies and saveloy dips.

A scene now vastly changed - featuring the 
Londonderry Pub,  Chelsea Boy shop and Crowtree pub.

A scene now vastly changed - featuring the Londonderry Pub, Chelsea Boy shop and Crowtree pub.

 “Apparently the nearby police and fire station provided plenty of regular customers!” said David.

 Russell first took up photography in his teens, but his hobby was curtailed by the outbreak of war – when he was posted to Lincolnshire as an RAF aircraft fitter servicing Lancaster bombers.

 It was in Lincolnshire that he met his future wife Charlotte (known as Pat). They married shortly after the end of the war and had two children, first Jacqueline and later Brent.

 “On de-mob in 1945 my grandfather found work at Sunderland Registrar Office before transferring to the local tax office – where he remained until his retirement in 1981,” said David.

The 
Greenland is the focus of this River Wear shot.

The Greenland is the focus of this River Wear shot.

“After the war he resumed his hobby with great enthusiasm, and joined the Sunderland Photographic Club – occasionally having his work exhibited in the Sunderland Art Gallery.

 “He spent most of his free time walking the Sunderland area taking in the wildlife, people, culture and industrial areas of the then famous shipbuilding town.”

 Although Russell remained interested in photography throughout his life, he switched the focus of his hobby to Durham in later years – after moving to Belmont following his retirement.

 He died in Durham in April 2007, at the age of 85, but his memory lives on through his photographs.

Shop at Binns for Everything - a slogan that lasted for almost a century in Sunderland. This shot is circa 1960s.

Shop at Binns for Everything - a slogan that lasted for almost a century in Sunderland. This shot is circa 1960s.

 “I thought it would be lovely to see a few of his slides printed, as photography was his main hobby. There are some excellent ones of the shipbuilding that once dominated Sunderland,” added David.

Old and new sit side-by-side here - with the old station clock to the right of this photo.

Old and new sit side-by-side here - with the old station clock to the right of this photo.

The closing down sale at Blacketts in 1972.

The closing down sale at Blacketts in 1972.

A line of NGT buses parked up in Cowen Terrace circa 1970.

A line of NGT buses parked up in Cowen Terrace circa 1970.

The entrance to the old Central Station in the 1960s.

The entrance to the old Central Station in the 1960s.

It's all change here as the new "space age" town is built behind Books Fashions and the Beehive pub in around 1968.

It's all change here as the new "space age" town is built behind Books Fashions and the Beehive pub in around 1968.