New lighting installed as work presses ahead on Sunderland’s Keel Square

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UP they go!

Lighting columns have started to spring up during the final stages of the work on Sunderland’s new Keel Square.

Keel Square, Sunderland.

Keel Square, Sunderland.

The copper-coloured structures topped with sharp black spikes were being erected yesterday, outside the city’s magistrates’ court, by workmen in cherry pickers.

Sunderland City Council has not confirmed whether this forms part of the final touches to the new square, which was named by Echo readers in a vote last year.

Road users have been plagued by congestion for nine months, as the £11.8million project, which includes the re-alignment of St Mary’s Way, got under way.

Coun Peter Wood asked at last week’s full council meeting when the St Mary’s Boulevard roadworks would be complete and the Vaux site car park reinstated.

Keel Square, Sunderland.

Keel Square, Sunderland.

Coun Mel Speding told him that the ‘vast majority’ or ‘the bulk of the work’ would be finished by the end of this month.

“The bulk of the works will be finished by the end of February,” Coun Speding said.

“However, full completion, which includes the super crossing being fully operational, the restitution of the Vaux site and the removal of the contractors’ compound is being agreed with Balfour Beatty.”

Keel Square, created to mark Wearside’s industrial heritage, will also feature artworks by sculptor Stephen Broadbent, celebrating the role of workers in establishing Sunderland’s reputation for shipbuilding supremacy.

A 3.5 metre-high interactive sculpture, Propellers of the City, will include the photographs of up to 500 Sunderland people who worked in the shipyards, in roles from blacksmith to loftsman, riveter to cleaner.

The second artwork, The Keel Line, can now be seen among the construction work. When complete, it will lead from the Propellers, across the square and continue over the extent of the Vaux site, towards the river.

At 291m, the line represents the full length of the Naess Crusader, which is the longest ship ever built in Sunderland. It launched from the James Laing shipyard on December 21, 1972.

The length of the line will include the names of up to 9,000 of the most significant ships built in Sunderland’s shipyards dating back to the early 19th century.

Water features, landscaping, street furniture and space for cafe culture-style entertainment all aim to transform the site into a thriving hub of activity.