It’s been a huge hit with the Sunderland public for 55 years

It was a case of ‘Out with the old, in with the new’ in a year of change for Sunderland.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 10:00 am
Fulwell Library pictured in 1966.

Back in the summer of 1964, the Marina Cinema on Sea Road was little more than a skeleton by July of that year. Its fall from popularity was marked by a final performance exactly a year before this sad photograph was snapped.

But, if locals were saddened by the cinema’s demise then they were certainly pleased about the village’s latest addition down on Dene Lane.

The end of the road for the Marina cinema as it faces demolition.

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Historian Norman kirtlan reports.

Fulwell Library had been a long-time-coming.

But the dream, and the promise, was finally becoming a reality.

The plan for a Fulwell Free Library was first introduced in 1903, when the village was enjoying its first housing boom. The Rural District Council considered the plan and suggested that contact should be made with Andrew Carnegie, whose benevolence saw the building of Hendon, Monkwearmouth and Southwick libraries.

But, for some reason, the council decided that it would be best to select a site before pestering the great man. A trio of locals was appointed to investigate the matter. The parish council then moved on to the second important item – an extra policeman for the village.

Needless to say, neither came to fruition.

In 1932 the plans were again mooted but kicked into touch by the Council who decided instead to do additional work on the Central Library building in Borough Road.

“There’s not a big enough population in Fulwell to warrant a branch library”, one local councillor said. “It will be of far greater benefit to the town to improve the Central Library.”

Planning permission for the Dene Lane Library was granted in August 1964, with a proviso that ample parking spaces were provided on the forecourt for customers.

Another condition was that all loading and unloading took place at the rear of the building to ease any congestion on the main road.

The library cost £31,500 to build and £10,000 to stock with books.

In May 2017, however, during massive local authority cuts, the axe fell on seven local libraries.

Fulwell Branch was unfortunately one of the casualties.

It would not be long, however, before the true spirit of Fulwell folk came to the fore and Fulwell Library was reinvented as Fulwell Community Library after a community interest company was formed with the help of 92 volunteers.

Coun Margaret Beck and her husband Richard, were among the movers and shakers that got the project off the ground and, in an interview with the Echo in July 26, 2017, she said: “The library opened yesterday after volunteers redecorated and tidied up the premises, which sports a community café and a room for hire, as well as the same books and computers as before.”

She added: “a number of people have already been through the doors and book lending will work on an honesty system, with old-fashioned stamps.

“A number of activities are also planned once the volunteers have found their feet. It’s the heart of the village and has been for years.”

The Community Library really is a credit to those who give up their time and effort to keep it running.

To find out more about the history of Fulwell, interested people can listen to a talk by Norman at the library this Friday. It starts at 1pm and tickets are available from the library.

l Is there an item of Wearside or County Durham nostalgia you would like us to remember?

Is there a well-known former pub, club, nightclub or restaurant you would like us to take another look at?

Or perhaps you would like to reflect on a former school and the classmates you shared your educational experience with. Do you remember the teachers you had?

Whatever the reason for getting in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Email [email protected]