Sunderland pub becomes tribute to city's mining history with this huge Frank Styles mural

A Sunderland pub has been given a striking facelift in honour of Wearside’s mining heritage.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 1:19 pm
Frank Styles new mural on Donkins pub, Silksworth

Eye-catching images of miners, and depictions of mining life above and below ground, now adorn the entire two stories of Donkin’s in Blind Lane, Silksworth.

The heritage scenes are the handiwork of well-known city artist Frank Styles, whose work can be seen in streets around the city.

This, however, is only his second pub piece after decorating The Shipwrights in Ferryboat Lane with images of shipyard workers. Unlike most of Frank’s artworks, which are either commissioned by the council or Arts Council, this is a public artwork for all that was privately funded by the pub landlord.

The striking black and white mural

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Frank, who spent months creating the mural, said: “It was some of the locals in the pub who planted the seed for the artwork after they suggested to the landlord that it would be a good idea.”

Coal was mined at Silksworth Colliery for more than 100 years until the early 1970s . Soon after its closure it was transformed into the ski slope and Silksworth Lakes.

Because the mine is still in living memory for many residents, Frank says it’s given the artwork extra resonance.

“People’s response to the artworks have been great, “ he said. “One woman used to walk her dog past every day when I was doing it and told me how her brother worked down the mine. It’s such a proud part of people’s heritage. What’s important is that it opens up dialogue for people and gives meaning to their stories.”

Artist Frank is well known for his Sunderland street art

As well as researching mining history, Frank also recreated the image of a former shopkeeper and his daughter from a photo of the site’s time as a general store.

The mural is the latest of Frank’s works to make its mark in the city after the success of large-scale pieces on Panns Bank, gable ends in Hendon and the Raich Carter piece on the Blue House pub in Hendon which has featured in Sunderland ‘Til I Die on Netflix and in the New York Times.

Frank’s next piece will be of four famous SAFC players at a location to be revealed.

*Frank will be hosting an exhibition, with the chance to buy screen prints, at the Frederick Street Gallery in The Bridges from November. He’s also looking for gable ends to decorate. Any suggestions, email frank@frankstyles.com

The artworks honour our mining heritage