Preserving a piece of Sunderland history - 1,000-strong army joins Southwick Village Green Preservation Society

An ancient village green which dates back more than 1,000 years will be celebrated in a ceremony in Sunderland.

Tuesday, 25th August 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 28th August 2020, 10:07 am

Campaigners on the Southwick Village Green Preservation Society will unveil a blue plaque at the south side of the green later this week.

But they are determined that this week’s big achievement will not be their last. The society is planning more plaques as well as a pledge to preserve Southwick’s ‘long and fascinating’ history.

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A view from the east end in the early 1900s.

Within three months, membership levels had grown to 650 people and now, a year on, it stands at more than 1,100.

Committee member Peter Gibson said: “We will achieve our first success when a Heritage Blue Plaque is attached to Heron Foods store wall on the south side of Southwick Green.

"The plaque celebrates our ancient village green which is over 1,000 years old. This event is so important to us as it demonstrates our commitment to the improvement of Southwick Green.”

Mr Gibson said there were ‘only two heritage blue plaques positioned within the boundaries of the old Southwick-on-Wear Township and our society intends to redress the balance. Southwick has a long and fascinating history and The Green is an ideal place to promote our heritage.”

The west end of Southwick Green in the early 1900s.

“After the installation of the village green plaque, we intend to move forward and apply for funding for two more heritage blue plaques.

"One of our proposed projects includes an interpretation panel positioned at the west end of Southwick Green. The panel will include information and illustrations of Southwick's history, our industrial heritage, and notable people.”

The group is for ‘like-minded Suddickers whose heart is in Southwick and would be interested to preserve and improve Southwick Village Green.’

Mr Gibson added: "We need to raise the funding to pay for the projects and we require permission from the Council who are the owners of Southwick Village Green to place panels or memorials on The Green.”

The view looking west.

But the team behind the plans is determined and growing. Mr Gibson said: “Our Facebook membership has grown to over 1,100 members. We regularly post updates and Southwick's history on our site that can be found under our name.

"We have a passionate committee who are keen for us to succeed with the several projects we have passed in committee for the improvement of The Green.”

The Facebook page can be found at 'Southwick Village Green Preservation Society'.

DID YOU KNOW;

Peter Gibson told the Echo: "In 1912 the sons of Robert Thompson Junior paid for the laying out of the Green to represent the shape of a ship in memory of their successful shipbuilding father. The picture from the 1910s clearly shows the fore end."

:: Wealthy aristocrats owned much of Southwick and lived there as Lord of the Manor.

:: Industry arrived, beginning with the Suddick Glasshouse in 1690.:: Potteries, glassworks, limestone burning, brickmaking and shipbuilding all followed.

:: By 1801, there were 554 inhabitants and by 1851 the census recorded 2,721 people who were living around the village green and the rapidly growing Low Southwick;

:: In 1912, the three sons of Robert Thompson Junior, the Southwick shipbuilder, paid for it to be laid out as a memorial to their father. They laid out the green in the shape of a ship.

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Robert Thompson Junior.

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