New Sunderland school to be named after 'superman' sailor and diver Harry Watts

A new school isnote-0 to be named after a note-1‘superman’ sailor and diver who helped rescue more than 100 people.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 5:47 pm
The new Sunderland special school will be named after hero Harry Watts

Councillors have given the green light to plans for land on the former Bishop Harland Primary School site, off Ramillies Road, which has been vacant since 2013.

At a council meeting to decide the application this week, it was revealed the school could be named after the legendary Harry Watts.

Watts was born in 1826, signed up as an apprentice sailor at the age of 14 and by 19, had saved five people from drowning.

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Artist impression of planned special needs school. Pictures provided by Sunderland City Council

During a career as a rigger in Sunderland’s shipyards he saved a further five people from the River Wear before signing up as a diver with the River Wear Commissioners from 1861 to 1896.

He also worked for the Sunderland Lifeboat and Life Brigade services where he assisted in saving around 120 people.

A small exhibition to the Sunderland hero is held at Sunderland Museum including a collection of his medals.

Prosper Learning Trust, who will run the new school, chose to pay tribute to the Sunderland stalwart for his local links and “inspirational life.”

Harry Watts with medals and in diving suit. Pictures provided by Sunderland City Council

The Harry Watts Academy will cater for children with autism, complex social and emotional needs and learning difficulties.

Councillor Paul Stewart told the meeting: “The community has been waiting for a long time for this and they’re looking forward to having a school again in the area.

“It’s a real positive.”

Site of Bishop Harland Primary School, Ramillies Road, planned for new special needs school
Artist impression of planned special needs school. Pictures provided by Sunderland City Council
Harry Watts with medals and in diving suit. Pictures provided by Sunderland City Council
Site of Bishop Harland Primary School, Ramillies Road, planned for new special needs school