From shipyard girls to songwriting - Sunderland's new Seventeen Nineteen venue to host two-day history festival

A two-day festival is set to celebrate Sunderland’s rich and colourful history, from Shipyard Girls to songwriting.

The city’s newest venue, Seventeen Nineteen, which is housed in the former Holy Trinity Church in the East End, will host its autumn fayre featuring a series of displays, tours and activities for all ages, with the city’s heritage at their heart.

Taking place on October 14 and 15, the festival will also delve into the past of the building itself, with the first event, Photographing Sunderland, showcasing historic photos from photographers in the community alongside photographs from the present day.

Hide Ad

The photo exhibition will run from 14 to 29 October and, along with images of the multi- million-pound regeneration of the building taken by award-winning volunteer Chris Audsley, organisers are accepting digital submissions from members of the public.

The venue can be used for multiple events

Other highlights include a Shipyard Girls walking tour, from 1pm to 3.30pm on October 14, which will explore Sunderland’s fact and fiction, inspired by the work and characters of author Nancy Revell.

Starting at Seventeen Nineteen, it is expected to take around 90 minutes, mostly on even ground and finishing at the National Glass Centre, with a hot, takeaway drink included in the ticket price.

Hide Ad

Then, at 6pm on October 14, quizzers are invited to test their knowledge of the city at a fun ‘pub’ quiz – featuring trivia, puns and challenges - hosted by TikTok historian Kathrine Taylor.

The work of writers and storytellers is the theme of the following day’s events, on October 15, when a Writing History Fayre, between 10am and 3pm, will see the building packed with writers, crafts people and food stalls, with free activities for all ages.

Hide Ad
Former Holy Trinity Church has been reborn as Seventeen Nineteen

At 10am a panel of writers led by local author Glenda Young will discuss the methods they use when researching and writing stories set in Sunderland’s past.

Hide Ad

And, at noon, historian and singer Keith Gregson and We Make Culture’s Laura Brewis will explore how Sunderland’s history has inspired songwriters through the years. They will discuss the Songs of the Streets project and share traditions of Sunderland music and how that translates into new tracks.

The day will also mark the launch of Seventeen Nineteen’s new Hidden Stories trail, with clues scattered around the building, leading to a mystery object.

Hide Ad

“Not only was Seventeen Nineteen formerly a church but it was also a library,” said Participation and Engagement Officer, Lily Daniels. “And, as this year marks its 303rd anniversary, it seemed appropriate to make writing and heritage the focuses of our autumn fayre.”

It's reopened following major restoration works - with centre manager Tracey Mienie.
Hide Ad

Named after the year the port’s first parish church opened its doors, Seventeen Nineteen has witnessed the rise and fall of the shipyards, the outbreak of cholera, two World Wars and, more recently, the Covid pandemic.

It was once the heart of old Sunderland, housing the old town’s council chamber and its first library.

Hide Ad

Due to dwindling numbers, it closed as a church in 1988 when the Grade I-listed structure was vested into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Over the decades it had fallen into disrepair and was in desperate need of major structural works, but thanks to £5million of funding, the Georgian building has been saved for future generations.

Hide Ad

To reserve places at autumn fayre events visit EventBrite.