Sunderland’s links to an Open champion, Sevilla Football Club and the All Blacks

A photo from the book showing a road safety demonstration at Redby School in the 1940s.
A photo from the book showing a road safety demonstration at Redby School in the 1940s.

Sunderland’s shipbuilding history includes some fascinating and perhaps little known facts.

But thanks to Alan Brett and his latest book, On The Banks Of The Wear, all that has changed.

Alan looks at topics such as:

l Marine engineer Hugo MacColl who set up a business on the banks of the Wear at Sheepfolds – but before that he had been one of the founding fathers of Sevilla, Spain’s oldest football club.

l The most famous fishwife of the 19th century was Peggy Potts who, when not selling lobsters, crabs and cod around the town, was making court appearances for having run-ins with market officials.

l The days when food and drink was adulterated by unscrupulous retailers. Plaster of Paris, chalk and bone ash were used to whiten bread, fats added to butter, water was used to dilute everything from milk to whisky and even arsenic found its way into the food chain.

l Florence Collard who, despite being bombed out of her home in an air raid, went off to complete her shift as a welder at Bartram’s shipyard.

The book also looks at some sporting anecdotes such as the All Blacks rugby team that appeared at Roker Park in 1924 and proved just as invincible as the present day New Zealand side.

It also tells how, in the early 1900s, a Wearside firm played a major role in the making of a golf champion. The game of James Braid was transformed when he switched to an aluminium putter produced by the Mills’ works at Bonnersfield.

And in a tall ships connection, the book explains how the Norwegian ship Sorlandet is no stranger to Wearside. She made courtesy visits to the Wear in both 1949 and 1966.

On The Banks Of The Wear is available from Waterstones, Sunderland Museum, Sunderland Antiquarian Society and and is priced at £4.99.