Letters, Thursday, July 12th, 2012

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Photos to show how city has changed

I COULD not agree more with Paul Watson when he said that Sunderland has changed beyond measure since the Queen’s accession in 1952. Few of the changes have improved our city, and letters to the Echo from visitors and returning Mackems expressing disappointment on what the city has become far outnumber those expressing pleasure.

No doubt the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee Exhibition will contain many photographs depicting Sunderland as it used to be, and I would like to make some suggestions as to what could be included.

Photos of Fawcett Street showing the town hall before it was vandalised (sorry demolished) and shops that were thriving instead of being empty and shuttered. The tourist information office in a rightfully prominent position before it was hidden away in the central library, and The Grand Hotel in Bridge Street.

The children’s playground which the council first provided on the site of the old Diamond Hall School, with its sharp-edged concrete blocks and ground glass paths, which the residents of the area christened a building site.

Images of Ambit in the river and the fountain at Seaburn, and the Vaux site as it stood for over a decade while the council argued over it with Tesco.  

Adjoining these photos could be information detailing the cost of each so that we could see how much had been wasted.

A map of Sunderland showing where the public toilets used to be could be produced in the style of those published by the NCB to show where the mines used to be.

A marquee of its own could be devoted to Seaburn and Roker, picturing the beaches crowded solid with people, tents and deckchairs. The position of the toilets could be listed as they were adequately provided along the promenade and at street level and I cannot recall paint peeling off the walls or anyone being scalded.

The fairground was always busy and children enjoyed rides on the miniature railway. Rides in the motorboats on the boating pool were always popular and many older visitors played golf on the golf course while others took their children on the putting green. In a paved area between the bottom of Dykelands Road and the Seaburn Hall a row of kiosks catered for those who wanted seafood, fish and chips, sweets and candy floss, drinks, and buckets and spades.

For a few weeks, near the end of the year, thousands flocked to the seafront and Roker Park to see the illuminations. In those days you didn’t have to go to South Shields.

Ken Parker

Happy memories

YOUR Retro section on the Coronation brought back happy memories.

I was five years old at the time and started infants schools at Easter 1953, just two months before the Coronation.

What a magical time for a small child! We had pictures of the Queen all over the classroom, and didn’t she look beautiful? There were pictures of Horseguards, Beefeaters, Westminster Abbey, and a paper model of the Gold Coach, which the teacher must have made out of a magazine and assembled.

I still have the Coronation mug which all Sunderland schoolchildren must have been presented with. It’s always been kept in a glass cabinet and never used.

On the great day itself we went to my grandparents’ house in Hendon and watched the ceremony on their new TV set. For many people the Coronation was the first programme they saw.

Being so young, I thought coronations happened all the time. I never thought I’d reach the age of 64 and not see another.

But here’s the big question. I was born in the same year as Prince Charles, so will I ever see him crowned King?

And will I live long enough to see the Coronation of King William and Queen Kate?

Edna G. Olds, Longridge Avenue, Washington

Seafront shows

I WAS relaxing in my armchair and for some reason this came into my head. In the past for kids there were BBC Radio roadshows and plenty of entertainment on the seafronts.

Summer Time City was a hit song for a seafront entertainment show on TV. There was also a game show, It’s a Knockout. There is nothing like that at any seafront now, or is there? I wish there was.

Or is this another way to tell us all things are changing?

I don’t know about the rest of the Echo’s readers, but I wish this entertainment would come back in the summer holiday times for kids at the seafront.

Edwin Robinson, Zetland Square, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland

Cemetery neglect

I WISH to endorse the remarks of “Disgruntled” regarding the overgrown state of the city cemeteries.

The lawn section of Bishopwearmouth Cemetery is in a grossly overgrown condition and in need of attention.

J. Geldert, Tunstall, Sunderland

Political balance

READER, have you noticed our favourite epistle moving to the political left? Isn’t the Fourth Estate supposed to represent all views – left, right and centre, particularly the small district paper like the Echo?

Take Thursday, July 5. First we have the editor’s column, leading on the military cuts announced by the Government and the loss of 20,000 personnel over the next eight years. No mention of the 30,000 Territorials to be enlisted.

Fifty years ago the mantra from the Left was that we were a small country, why should be have such large expensive forces to fight everyone’s battles for them? Well now we are reducing our forces and still we are wrong.

Next comes Doctor T, a regular correspondent, I assume. Once again he push, push, pushes the extreme left view, ridiculing members of the Government, calling the Chancellor “bonny George” and the Prime Minister a “desultory Dave”. What does he expect to gain by implied insults of this nature?

As for his offer to review the affairs of any bank, something similar was tried by the previous government, by introducing the FSA, full of officials with the “highest academic qualifications”. We are all aware of their net efforts to avoid catastrophe – zilch!

Then we have Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson spouting his wares, including his intentions for the Vaux site. Might I suggest he has something of a nerve talking about that hot potato. Well, it’s cold now!

Further, of course, we have Steve Colborn with his left, left, left politics of envy, which I admit he has every right to do, in the Letters Page.

Finally, on another day, we welcome columnist Keith Newberry, another far to the left of government thing.

Just over two years ago we elected a joint government to take over a disaster area. Can we have someone to speak for them other than correspondents in the Letters Page, please?

Allan Wilkinson

Thanks again

ONCE again it is time to acknowledge your generosity in donations to the Grace House Children’s Hospice Appeal. In the three weeks from Saturday, June 16, to Saturday, July 7, you have given an awesome £2,125 to that daft clown who collects for them.

On Saturday, June 16, over £239 was given at a small Sainsburys in Stockton, followed by £202 at Sainsburys in Gilesgate on Friday, June 22.

The next day over £430 was donated by my Seaham neighbours at Asda in Byron Place.

The next weekend, on Friday, June 29, and Saturday, June 30, the clown was given a heart-warming £485 at Morrisons in Castletown.

Then in the three days from Wednesday, July 4, to Friday, July 6, a fantastic sum of over £737 was donated by customers at Morrisons in Chester-le-Street.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge over £30 from Park Lane Cards in Byron Place. This was their fourth full collection box this year and they have raised over £164 so far in 2012. A big thank-you to their customers, Marilyn and all the staff.

I also want to thank all the charity co-ordinators and managers at all venues where I have collected.

In order to “create” that idiotic clown, I have more make-up on my dressing table than there was when my lovely wife was alive.

I’m also worried about how much I enjoy “putting my make-up and lippy on!” However, as long as it helps raise money for Grace House, it is worthwhile.

Jeff Coxon, Lawnside, Seaham

Why celebrate?

I SEE the friends of Uncle Sam, those deluded wannabe “gimme a high five” Yanks, are up to their funny tricks again, as happens every year at this time.

Celebrating a defeat, a defeat for us caused by the traitorous turncoats who “went over to the other side” and killed their own countrymen, leading to the shameful goings-on every year at that old pile of stones in Washington Village.

It should be pulled down and transported over to that place across the “pond” and forgotten about.

If anybody wants to raise a stars and stripes, they should go over there and do it.

Arthur E. Steel. Phoenix Road, Sunderland

The wrong time

I’M convinced that to become a Sunderland councillor you must go through some sort of an initiation ceremony where you are taken deep down into the vaults of the civic centre, laid upon a marble altar, a Victorian cork screw implement is inserted into your skull, a small hole is made, then every bit of initiative and common sense is sucked out.

I’m sure a lot of readers who regularly visit our seafront would agree that repair work or revamping to the toilets at Seaburn and work also going on to the seafront entrance of Roker Park and the parking bays, and now scaffolding around the seafront lighthouse, would be best undertaken in the winter.

Maybe then tourists who visit our fantastic seafront in the summer would not be put off, and next time stay in their cars and head off up the coast to South Shields.

D. O’Brien, Grindon Broadway, Sunderland