The sky at night in Sunderland - more than 50 years ago

Echo photographers snapped a whole host of subjects in the 1960s, from World Cup football matches to snow showers and ship launches.

Wednesday, 24th February 2016, 12:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th February 2016, 12:05 pm
Wearmouth Bridge all lit up with Victorian-style lamps in the early 1950s.

But one set of photos from the archives really stands out, as they were all taken in a single night in and around Sunderland’s town centre.

“It was very, very unusual for photographers to go out and about around Sunderland of an evening,” said Susan Swinney, photographic archivist for the Echo.

The sign for Lennards is looking in need of some care and repair in this picture of Sunderland in the 1950s. Note - no shutters.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Very occasionally they would take pictures at brightly-lit evening football games – but other night scenes were few and far between.”

Indeed, most late night shots previously used in the Echo involved wartime bombing raids, photos of Roker illuminations or adverse weather conditions.

But, in 1960, one unknown snapper was tasked with capturing the town in the dark – from the old Elephant Tea Rooms to Wearmouth Bridge and Marks and Sparks.

“The images that person took are amazing.

A bus just passing the Gaumont Cinema and Maynards.

“They show long-gone shops and cinemas, as well as old-fashioned buses, vans and cars,” said Susan.

“I’m sure the photos will strike a chord with our readers. So many places have disappeared – and the remaining shops are now covered by shutters at night.”

Among the highlights of the night-time snaps are images of Woolworths, the Gaumont Cinema, Maynards and Wearmouth Bridge – all lit up with Victorian lamps.

Also featured are the Rose and Crown pub, the Picture House cinema – otherwise known as The Ranch – Jackson the Tailor and Lennards.

A very quiet town - with no shutters. The Picture House, aka The Ranch. is lit up just past Jackson the Tailor. Marks and Spencer remains, but the Rose and Crown - to the left - has gone.

“The sign for poor old Lennards definitely needed a bit of love and care,” said Susan.

“It sold shoes in High Street West and was very popular at the time. But, it is amazing to see just how different Sunderland town centre was back in the 1960s. The lack of metal shutters made it a much, much brighter place.”

Two buses pass Burton's on the right - housed in the original Elephnt Tea Rooms.
Sunderland town centre is a hive of activity in the 1960 photo.
The sign for Lennards is looking in need of some care and repair in this picture of Sunderland in the 1950s. Note - no shutters.
A bus just passing the Gaumont Cinema and Maynards.
A very quiet town - with no shutters. The Picture House, aka The Ranch. is lit up just past Jackson the Tailor. Marks and Spencer remains, but the Rose and Crown - to the left - has gone.
Two buses pass Burton's on the right - housed in the original Elephnt Tea Rooms.
Sunderland town centre is a hive of activity in the 1960 photo.