Ceremony to remember victims of Sunderland’s Victoria Hall Disaster

Members of Sunderland Old Township Hertitage Society, including Fr Andrew Collins Jones, Raymond davison, Vera Vincent, Sharon Vincent, Bill Dove, Kate Hilton, Nicholas Hub, Coun Michael Mordey, Coun Barbara McClennan, Coun Tom Martin and Maureen Martin, pictured in Mowbray Park ahead of the memorial service to the Victoria Hall Disaster.
Members of Sunderland Old Township Hertitage Society, including Fr Andrew Collins Jones, Raymond davison, Vera Vincent, Sharon Vincent, Bill Dove, Kate Hilton, Nicholas Hub, Coun Michael Mordey, Coun Barbara McClennan, Coun Tom Martin and Maureen Martin, pictured in Mowbray Park ahead of the memorial service to the Victoria Hall Disaster.
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YOUNG and old gathered on Wearside to remember children who lost their lives in a historic tragedy.

Sunderland families were haunted by the deaths of 183 children who were killed in the Victoria Hall Disaster, on June 16, 1883.

They were crushed in a stampede for gifts after a show at the concert hall in Toward Road, which was later destroyed by a German bomb during the Second World War.

On Saturday, Sunderland Old Township Heritage Society met at a memorial to the tragedy in Mowbray Park to mark its 129th anniversary.

“Flowers were laid by two Sunderland schoolchildren in memory of those who lost their lives,” said organiser Raymond Davison.

“Sunderland Old Township Heritage Society members, Councillor Peter Wood and members of the public were also in attendance.”

Father Andrew Collins Jones, Rector of St Ignatius Church in Hendon, also conducted a short service.

“The service is now an annual event,” said Mr Davison.

“It is important that we remember the victims of this disaster.”

The memorial marking the disaster was returned to Mowbray Park in 2002, after a campaign by Echo readers and then-Hendon councillor Mary Smith.

The grade-II listed statue, showing a mother cradling a dead child, was paid for out of a relief fund set up for the families of the children who died in the stampede.

Sunderland Council agreed to restore the statute, which was almost forgotten in a corner of Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.

Several designs by architect Paul Prince were submitted and the final design was selected to echo the Winter Gardens.

The project cost about £48,000, and marble for the restoration of the statue – which had missing limbs and other damage – had to be brought from Italy.