Sunderland staged a double celebration as the city’s new Mayor threw a party for the birthday of its best-loved park.
New Mayor Coun Doris MacKnight was only installed at Wednesday’s city council annual general meeting and one of her first jobs in office was to attend the celebrations for the 160th anniversary of Mowbray Park and commemoration of its historical significance to the city as home to the monument honouring one of its greatest heroes, Jack Crawford.
Every year the Mayor’s Consort or Mayoress hosts an event at the beginning of the Mayor’s term of office, to meet residents and the volunteers who do work in their communities, and this year the role falls to Coun MacKnight’s husband Keith.
“It has been absolutely brilliant so far,” she said.
“We have really hit the ground running and to see all these people here today is incredible.”
Jack Crawford was the Sunderland sailor who nailed Admiral Duncan’s colours to the mast at the Battle of Camperdown and the celebrations had an appropriately nautical theme.
We have really hit the ground running and to see all these people here today is incredible.Coun Doris MacKnight
Visitors were entertained with Proms in the Park performances by the Salvation Army brass band, complete with Rule Britannia and Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs; Sunderland Maritime Heritage group were on hand with their impressive large-scale model of Jack Crawford’s The Venerable, complete with costumed sailors and a box of artefacts showing a glimpse of naval life during the battle; a city council-funded film about Jack Crawford was screened, while Dreambox Theatre Company and pupils from Hudson Road Primary School performed ‘Hero of Camperdown’ in the museum’s Pottery Gallery.
And for those who like their music a little more contemporary, there were performances by young musicians from Gentoo’s GenFactor 3, while singer/songwriter Marty Longstaff performed with the choir from St Paul’s Primary in Ryhope.
Marty has been working with youngsters from three city schools in a project funded by Sunderland Music Education Hub and he and the pupils sang ‘City of Light,’ a song they had written about Ryhope Pumping Station.
“I have had a really good time,” said nine-year-old Grace Elwood.