Sunderland's Backhouse Park celebrates 100 years of dogs walks, birdwatching, flowers and fun

One of Sunderland’s most-historic parks has celebrated 100 years of dog walks, birdwatching, flowers and fun.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 11:10 am

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This year marks 100 years since Thomas William Backhouse gifted the park, formerly Ashburne Park, to the Corporation of Sunderland in 1922 who named it Backhouse Park in his honour.

To mark the milestone, more than 250 people gathered at a centenary event held at the park which was hosted by International Community Organisation of Sunderland (ICOS) with East Rangers.

As well as celebrating the history of the park, the event celebrated the people who maintain it today.

Celebrating 100 years of Backhouse Park

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Highlights included a language workshop hosted by International Volunteers, as well as a bird workshop delivered by Richard Cowen (RSPB, CPRE Durham) where participants got to know how to feed garden birds and could ask questions about different species in the park, particularly the park’s green parakeets.

Agnieszka Cielecka, project worker for ICOS, said: “It was a pleasure to work with all the lovely volunteers from Sunderland University and local communities

to deliver such an amazing event.

"I would like to thank all involved but also participants for their great attendance and feedback. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves and we will see more and more of you in Backhouse Park. We have plenty of wildlife here and history of this place is worth knowing.”

A centenary event was held at the park

St Michael’s ward Councillor, Michael Dixon, said: “The Centenary Event, recently organised by ICOS, was one of my most enjoyable times in Backhouse Park and I have been using it since childhood.

"It was just a brilliant occasion that will live long in the memory, very well organised, lots of attractions, a lovely sunny afternoon and a really friendly, community feel to it, with people/families of all ages, both local and from various countries, having a really fantastic time together. A big well done and thank you to Daniel (park ranger Daniel Krzyszczak from ICOS) and his team.”

Other events on the day included an arts and crafts tent, a stamp trail, the installation of a new fairy trial by local business Plybox CNC Joinery, a history talk presented by Mary Todner, a performance by Sunderland Symphony Orchestra, coffee and cake from Paticake Patisserie and an ICOS raffle

Hugely influential on Wearside, the Backhouses were Quaker bankers who had the house and gardens built for them. They left a rich legacy in the city and it was philanthropist Edward Backhouse who became one of the founding fathers of the Sunderland Echo in 1873.

Paticake Patisserie created a centenary cake

Ashburne House in Ryhope Road is where the Backhouse family lived. The land on which the house was built was bought at auction in 1830 by Edward Backhouse.

The grand house was used for education since the 1930s but is now a private residence once more after being bought as a family home by city property developer Henry Kirtley who is sympathetically restoring the building while honouring its history.

International Community Organisation of Sunderland and East Rangers are looking forward to delivering new projects in the park.

They’re encouraging all interested in volunteering to contact Daniel Krzyszczak on 07783433674 or email [email protected]

There was plenty of stalls and information at the event

They will be hosting bird ID workshops in the park for school children in near future and interested schools are asked to contact Daniel.

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Celebrating 100 years of Sunderland's Backhouse Park - and here's how you can ta...

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Sunderland Symphony Orchestra performed at the event
Autumn scenes in Backhouse Park captured by an Echo photographer in 1957.
These youngsters, determined to make the most of the snow while it lasts, took their toboggans to Backhouse Park, Sunderland, and it was not long before they found a suitable slope to use. Thursday January 7 1954
Wednesday Retro 1962 Students in Backhouse Park May 1962 old ref number 30-3441 Three students of Sunderland College of Art, left to right: Jean Willis, Marjorie Laverick and Patricia Smith. Thursday May 10 1962