History fair looks back at Sunderland’s past

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WEARSIDERS are being invited to step back in time and explore their roots at a history extravaganza.

Heritage enthusiasts from across the region will showcase their work at the Seaburn Centre on Saturday as part of the 2014 Sunderland History Fair.

FRONT: Sunderland Railway Station in October 1938.

FRONT: Sunderland Railway Station in October 1938.

More than 60 exhibitors have signed up to take part in the event – one of the region’s biggest history fairs – including archivists, archaeologists and family tree experts.

Displays featuring Roman centurions, replicas of famous ships, mining nostalgia and vintage photographs are also planned – with up to 4,000 visitors expected to attend.

“This is an important event for history enthusiasts in the region,” said event co-ordinator Alistair Yule, of Sunderland Heritage Form.

“Sometimes, people don’t appreciate the wealth of history we have in the North East and this is a way of celebrating that culture going right back to Roman times.

“It is also important to understand how the past shaped the city of Sunderland as it is today, and the exhibition is a great opportunity to learn more about those times.”

A 19ft model of a foy coble, built by apprentice shipwrights at Bloomer’s shipyard on the North Dock in 1925, will be among the many highlights of Saturday’s fair.

A model of Admiral Duncan’s HMS Venerable – made famous when sailor Jack Crawford nailed the colours to the mast during the Battle of Camperdown in 1797 – will also be on show.

“We’ve inherited so much more than just a set of genes from our ancestors. It is important to preserve our heritage for the future,” said Alistair.

“So much of our heritage is what makes us the people we are today. We don’t want to live in the past, but we want and need to be aware of who our ancestors were.”

Other activities planned include talks on Wearside’s engineering heritage by Doxford Engines Friends Association and an exhibition of nostalgia from Beamish Museum.

Sunderland Antiquarian Society, Southwick Heritage, South Hylton LHS, Sunderland Civic Society, Silksworth Banner Group and Tyne and Wear Archives will also be represented.

And members of Aycliffe and District Bus Preservation Society are planning to bring a vintage bus to the fair as well – to take visitors for trips up and down the seafront.

“We held our first history fair in 2008, which attracted over 3,000 visitors. The event continues to grow in popularity and we hope this will be the best yet,” said Alistair.

“The main thing is to get people thinking about their heritage, and I’m sure the fair will do that. There is plenty to keep people interested for an hour – or a whole day.”

Television presenter and local history expert John Grundy will open the fair at 10am. The event is free to attend and will run until 6pm.

“It is a real day out – not just for history buffs, but for anyone to see what local and county-wide societies are doing to preserve, and appreciate, the heritage of this area,” said Douglas Smith, president of Sunderland Antiquarians.

“There are lots of stalls and a wide variety of things to see or to buy. But most of all it is enjoyable – and full of surprises. When the last one was held a couple of years ago, there was even a glimpse of Queen Victoria attended by a kilted John Brown!”

•The vintage photos on this page are taken from the Sunderland Echo calendar for 2015, which will go on sale in the autumn.

Some of the exhibitors at the 2014 Sunderland History Fair:

•Durham University Special Collections

•South Hylton LHS

•Wheatley Hill History Club

•My History

•North East Police History Society

•South Moor History Group


•Northumberland & Durham FHS

•Architectural & Archaeology Society of Northumberland & Durham

•Durham County LHS

•Photo Happenings

•Durham County VHS

•Tyne & Wear Archives

•North East War Memorial Project

•Sunderland Museum

•Sunderland Local Studies & Heritage

•Living History North East

•Southwick Heritage

•Chester-le-Street LHS


•Millston Postcards

•Alan Godfrey Maps

•Graham Aldus Family History

•Friends of Mowbray Park

•Hetton LHS

•Houghton & District HG

•Hendon History Group

•Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne

•Sunderland Antiquarian Society

•North East Methodist History Society

•Council for British Archaeology (North)

•Sunderland Theatre Organ Preservation Society

•Churches Conservation Trust

•Sunderland Civic Society

•David Price Military Collection

•Doxford Engines Friends Association

•Thorpe Thewles HG

•Durham County Record Office

•Washington LHS

•Bowes Railway

•North East Labour History Society

•Silksworth Banner Group

•Sunderland Maritime Heritage

•Coble & Keelboat Society

•Sunderland Heritage Quarter

•Sunderland Heritage Forum

•Beamish Museum

•68th Society Display Team

•Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade

•Northern Historic Re–enactment

•Aycliffe & District Bus Preservation Society

•Roma Antiqua