Bringing the magic of 1930s Sunderland back to life

Relaxing on the Cat and Dog Steps Promenade in 1971.  Photo: Peter Gibson.
Relaxing on the Cat and Dog Steps Promenade in 1971. Photo: Peter Gibson.

A reminder of 1930s Wearside is coming to Sunderland.

The people of Sunderland may be familiar with Sunshine Corner as it used to be a feature of visits to Roker beach in the 1930s.

Sunshine Corner in the 1930s. Photo: Peter Gibson.

Sunshine Corner in the 1930s. Photo: Peter Gibson.

And now it is on the way back – and so are other musical aspects of bygone Wearside which will all be revived at the Summer Streets festival.

First, though, you can find out what it is all about at an event tomorrow where people can have fun with kazoos, drums and share memories of trips to the seaside.

There will be three hours of activity tomorrow at the Austin House Family Centre, Shakespeare Street, in Southwick, from 2pm to 5pm.

There will be loads to enjoy such as a pop-up kazoo band and drum workshops. You can visit a jazz band stall or look at a memory wall of old photographs.

In the lead-up to Summer Streets, this free event will provide music, singing and arts workshops for people of all ages in preparation for Sunshine Corner at Summer Streets

Caroline Mitchell

Visitors can help put together a seaside collage, sing old songs, or even watch films of old Roker and Seaburn, which will be shown by Peter Gibson.

The nostalgic event with-a-difference is happening thanks to campaigners with the Southwick REACH group who have teamed up with Sunderland Music Hub to plan a modern version of Sunshine Corner.

The big plan is for Sunshine Corner to be part of this year’s Summer Streets festival, which has been given a change of venue so that it can be part of The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018.

The original Sunshine Corner was held on Sunday afternoons and evenings during the summer months of the mid 1930s, and it was led by members of an evangelistic mission and aimed primarily at children.

A small stage, sheltered by a windbreak, provided the setting. Large crowds of people – with children at the front and their parents behind them on deck chairs – would join in with community singing.

Now comes the return of Sunshine Corner and people can find out more during tomorrow’s event called ‘From Southwick to Seaburn: Music and Memories of Seaside Holidays’.

Caroline Mitchell is one of the people behind the event and she explained more.

“In the lead-up to Summer Streets, this free event will provide music, singing and arts workshops for people of all ages in preparation for Sunshine Corner at Summer Streets.

“Come along and join in with sunshine corner songs old and new with Eileen Richardson. Try our pop up kazoo band and drum workshops with Julie Foster. Bring your seaside photos and memories for our memory wall and collage workshop with Lyn Killeen. If you were in a jazz band in the 1970s or 80s, bring your memories and memorabilia and visit our jazz band stall.”

The afternoon will also see the launch of Southwick REACH (Research, Education, Arts and Culture Home), which was formerly known as the Putting Southwick on the Map project.

Free refreshments and a warm welcome will be provided.

Sunshine Corner will be part of the Summer Streets festival on Saturday, July 14, from 12pm to 4pm at the Seaburn Recreation Park. Caroline added: “We are reinventing Sunshine Corner for 2018.

“We will bring the spirit of Sunshine Corner back to life once more for local people to experience real camaraderie through community music and arts.

“Come and hear a programme of local acts such as community singers and musicians, pop-up kazoo/drum band; poetry reading and stories from young people in Southwick and beyond. Or step up and perform for the crowds yourself.”

To find out more about the initiative – including about Southwick REACH – visit www.southwickmap.com

Is there an aspect of local nostalgia you would like us to feature in Wearside Echoes?

Perhaps you would like us to look at a former pub, nightclub, shop, store or restaurant.

Get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk