Chris Cordner’s otherwise excellent article on the dumping of ships’ ballast (Echo, July 19) failed to touch on another rich vein of local history and heritage.
Ballast was a very useful commodity in itself and could be recycled into walls and other structures, some of which still survive in our city.
Identifying the types of rock that the colliers brought back as ballast help us to appreciate the extent of the coal trade in the 19th Century.
Thus we can see in the walls flint from the South Coast of England, rocks from Scandinavia and blocks from the East Coast of Scotland, and many more.
Blocks sourced from ballast are well displayed today in old walls near the river, e.g. the St Peters and Sheepfolds areas.
They occur alongside exceptionally well preserved examples of our local rock types, themselves telling a tale of a long and unique geological history. A shame therefore that these walls are under threat by development, without any plans for preservation.
The old walls at Sheepfolds will be lucky to last a year if developments there go ahead! This is a strange approach from a council determined to elevate Sunderland to City of Culture status!
If any reader would like to learn more about ballast and the old walls, then please contact me via my website (www.rocksofthenorth.co.uk)
Dr Andy Lane