A complete revamp - and an Indian canoe on the roof

There's not many pubs which can boast having a 60ft-long Indian canoe hanging from the roof.

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th December 2018, 14:25 pm
The Porcupine Park in 1987.

But the newly refurbished Porcupine Park could and it made the Sunderland Echo news in 1987 – even it was smaller than the original ceiling decoration which bosses had planned.

Who remembers the year when the Queen Alexandra Road venue had a huge facelift, which our reporter described at the time as “so considerable that people might not recognise it.”

An earlier 1985 view of Porcupine Park.

But perhaps the biggest highlight was on the roof, as our reporter explained at the time.

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“Raised sections which feature wooden bannister rails, cut glass, and antique furniture all add up to class compared with the former American brashness,” said our 1987 report.

It added: “Though the American theme has not been lost altogether with the ceiling having a 60-ft long Indian canoe hanging from it, they had to chop eight feet off because it was originally too big.

“To go with this is a selection of attractive coloured glass and, believe it or not, a butcher’s bike hanging from the ceiling.”

Another view of the pub in 1987.

The manager in 1987 was Dave Stubbs, who explained more about the ethos of Porcupine Park at the time.

“Because we are slightly off the beaten track we have made sure that once people came here for a drink, they will want to stay for the whole evening.

“The style of service and atmosphere is warm and friendly, an approach which not many pubs can boast these days. In fact, everything is top-notch.”

As well as the decor, the music, service and staff had all been updated to ‘make Porcupine Park a completely different kind of pub’, said our story in 1987.

But do you remember the revamped look?

Or how about a few more reminders of 1987 to refresh your memory.

Another revamped venue was unveiled that year and it was Biffo’s in North Bridge Street.

But there were plenty of other venues for those who wanted to be spoilt for choice of entertainment.

How about a big screen hit?

Blind Date, starring Bruce Willis, was a big movie hit and you could catch it at the Fairworld in Washington. Bigfoot and the Hendersons were on at the Cannon in Sunderland.

As for live entertainment, Showaddywaddy were the attraction at the McEwans Indoor Centre at Houghton and Johnny Morris was narrating a one-night performance of The Snowman at Sunderland Empire.

The 50th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was being marked with film showings at the Cannon in both Sunderland and Durham.

And what about some last-minute bargain hunting for Christmas that year.

Symphony Sound in Hylton Road had a range of music keyboards as well as acoustic guitars.

Another choice for music lovers was Rock City Music Discount Centre in Stockton Road, Sunderland, where you could get amps, microphones and accessories galore.

And after a great bout of shopping, what about a night in front of the telly. Christmas that year featured some superb programmes.

On December 24, there was the Lenny Henry Christmas Special with Robbie Coltrane and Terence Trent D’Arby and a Christmas Eve special with Val Doonican.

Sporting Triangles, Only When I Laugh, Strike It Lucky and Crossroads made up the Tyne Tees alternative. Channel 4 chipped in with The Comic Strips Presents and a Rossini opera telling the story of Cinderella.

As for Christmas Day, there was a triple treat with the Russ Abbot Christmas Show followed by Only Fools And Horses and then Christmas Night With The Two Ronnies.

Cilla Black hosted Christmas Blind Date on Tyne Tees and Dennis Norden had a It’ll Be Alright on Christmas Night special.

Earlier in the day, Tyne Tees had been packed with film offerings such as The Spy Who Loved Me, Alice in Wonderland, Airplane 2 - The Sequel, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Channel 4 had the final of Countdown as well as The Snowman, The Golden Girls, and The Last Resort with Jonathan Roass.

It all added up to a Christmas to remember but what do you remember of that year? Get in touch with your memories by emailing chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk.