The Sunderland building where you could find a dentist’s chair, post office and kitchen under one roof

Ask anyone – whose childhood was spent in the estates to west of town – what their favourite building was and it is a fair bet the Grindon Public Library tops the poll.

Friday, 1st February 2019, 10:00 am
Inside Grindon Library in 1955.

Local historian Norman Kirtlan explans more.

This theatre of dreams inspired thousands of youngsters over the years.

Grindon Library in 1958.

Whether it was a love of reading and literature or for some, even dentistry!

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Once home to shipbuilder Mr HS Short, it was taken over in 1955 by Sunderland Council, the ground floor stocked with books and the upper floor turned into a museum.

Exhibits included reconstructions of Edwardian rooms such as a post office, a kitchen and a family room.

Perhaps the one that caused most shudders was a reconstruction of a dentist’s operating room, complete with gas machine, drills and other instruments of torture.

One of the reconstructed rooms at Grindon Library.

Over 5000 people visited the museum each year, viewing collections of Sunderland pottery, historic clothing, household goods, and local paintings.

There was also a collection of works by English artist Lawson Wood, a painter, illustrator and designer.

He was known for humorous depictions of cavemen and dinosaurs, policemen, and animals, especially a chimpanzee called Gran’pop, whose annuals circulated around the world.

Downstairs in the public library, the children’s section was watched over by a head librarian who was always on hand to help with any queries that you had – and also to issue stern warnings and a loud shhhh to anyone who dared to raise their voice.

Library assistant Carole Wilkinson tries out the 1910 dentist's chair.

Sadly, the library was to close in February 1996, the contents, including its museum exhibits, being transferred to the Central Library and Museum in Borough Road.

Although long gone, the legacy of this wonderful building lives on for many Sunderland folk.