A marauding magpie, a moose on the loose, and watching the eclipse - nine Sunderland stories from 1999

Heard the one about the travelling moose – or the magpie which loved attacking people?

Monday, 11th April 2022, 12:11 pm

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They were both stories which made the pages of the Sunderland Echo in 1999 and here they are again as we look back in time.

What were you doing 23 years ago? Perhaps these 9 news stories will refresh your memory.

l Around 150,000 Sunderland fans lined the championship trophy parade route, before the footballing heroes attended a civic reception at the Seaburn Centre.

All these stories made the 1999 Sunderland Echo headlines.

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l There’s a moose loose, but it’s not aboot Doxford Hoose!

For a number of years a large moose head hung in the entrance hall of the Grade II-listed building in Silksworth. But the building’s owners, the Lazarus Foundation, donated the beast to Sunderland museum. It was set to feature in the newly revamped museum when it opened in 2000.

l Young Wearside singer Laura Blake got her big break on the Big Breakfast Television Show.

The 11-year-old was a big hit with presenters after her rendition of Little People from the musical Les Miserables.

Watching the eclipse over Tunstall Hill in 1999 were Simon Rossi, Charlotte, Eleanor and Nicholas Farrell and Fernando Rossi.

l Mags the tame magpie took to attacking passers-by in a bid to defend its territory - a purpose-built shed in Princess Road, Dawdon.

Mags was discovered by Sharon Dixon’s 13-year-old son Ross in 1999 and she decided to pick up the chick, plus a sibling who later died, after finding its mother dead.

l The bulldozers moved in on Monkwearmouth College, in Swan Street, Southwick.

The 1960s prefabricated concrete buildings, which had become dangerous, were being removed to prepare the land for building work.

Around 150,000 fans turned out for the SAFC Championship parade in 1999. Were you there?

Wearmouth Community Development Trust, established by residents, planned to turn the 3.5-acre campus into a community centre.

l 93-year-old former Wearmouth miner Joe Carney paid his first visit to the Stadium of Light in 1999 - thanks to the Echo.

We sorted out a match ticket for Joe Carney and Sunderland AFC chipped in with a stadium tour to make sure he had a day to remember.

Football fan Joe left his native East End after the Second World War when he was laid off at Wearmouth. He worked in Doncaster and Worksop before settling in Birmingham.

The end of an era for Monkwearmouth College which was bulldozed as part of a £300,000 redevelopment scheme.

l Workers added the finishing touches to Sunderland's futuristic £10 million Public Transport Interchange – 23 years ago this month.

l A nursing home – Farnborough Court in Town End Farm – was on stand-by to receive Kosovan refugees. Staff at the home were amazed at the amount of donations they received from the Wearside public.

Wendy Conn, regional manager for Advantage Healthcare, said: “We have had people walking up to the door and giving us stuff for the refugees. It is overwhelming.”

l A cloak of eerie semi-darkness fell over Wearside as thousands of people witnessed a partial solar eclipse.

Thousands of people had headed to Cornwall to watch the sun swallow the moon but it was the North East which provided the best vantage point in the country - thanks to a bright sunny day and little cloud cover.

Tunstall Hills, which was a popular viewing point at the time of the last eclipse 72 years ago, drew crowds of families and friends gathered to watch the spectacle.

Former Sunderland man Joe Carney who came from Birmingham to see the Stadium of Light for the first time in 1999 - with a helping hand from the Echo.

What are your memories of 1999? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]

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Inundated - that was the Farnborough Court nursing home in Town End Farm which was deluged with donations for Kosovan refugees.
Sunderland's £10 million Public Transport Interchange which was getting its finishing touches in April 1999.