Magnificent murals to greet Tall Ships visitors in Sunderland

Tens of thousands of visitors are coming to Sunderland next week - and they will get an extra treat on top of the Tall Ships.

Saturday, 7th July 2018, 9:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 3:52 pm
Frank's mural of the City of Adelaide.

Renowned city artist Frank Styles has painted 10 murals on the walls of the Port of Sunderland to depict the history of shipbuilding on the River Wear.

They are colourful pieces of work and have been commissioned by Sunderland City Council’s East Area Committee.

A line-up of painted ships under the cranes.

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There’s everything from a view of the City of Adelaide ship, to three paintings of more recent vessels.

There’s the Stena Seawell offshore supply ship, sailing vessels and one depiction of a stunning Wearside sunset.

Frank talked to people who used to work in the shipyards as well as representatives of the Sunderland Maritime Heritage group and other organisations.

And the whole project has been “absolutely amazing,” he said.

Frank's work has gone on show in the East End.

“I have been made to feel so welcome. Everyone seems extra friendly. People have been stopping and saying that they recognise the ships.

“Ninety nine per cent of the time, they tell me which ship it is before I put the name on it.”

The shipyards of Sunderland closed in the 1980s but memories still abide. Frank added: “There is a lot of living memory of the ships.”

Frank has already painted several heritage themed murals in the city – at Panns Bank he has depicted the city’s shipbuilding past and in Commercial Road his mural of Sunderland AFC footballing legend Raich Carter has won many plaudits.

The man behind the work - artist Frank Styles.

His work can be seen in Market Street, Hetton, reminding residents to ‘shop local’, and he also contributed to Sunderland’s City of Culture 2021 bid.

Now, more murals have gone up outside the Port of Sunderland with a timescale of Sunderland shipping images from the days of sail to Second World War Liberty ships, and bulk cargo carriers.

A grant of £6,000 from the City Council’s East Area committee helped pay for the string of murals. The committee is one of five council area committees – the others are North, West, Coalfield and Washington – that have budgets allocated for supporting local projects.

Chair of the East Area Committee, Councillor Ellen Ball said: “Our committee is very familiar with Frank and his works are always colourful and, just as importantly, they are also very popular.

“One of our East Sunderland area priorities is about improving the appearance of our local environment.

“As a committee, we work closely with local voluntary and community groups and residents to help make our environment cleaner and greener, and of course brighter.

“And we’ve been very supportive of Frank and his very colourful murals.”

The Tall Ships Races Sunderland 2018 event is scheduled to take place from Wednesday, July 11, to Saturday, July 14, but there is also a preview day on Tuesday, July 10.

For more information on what to expect, visit