Letters, Friday, July 25, 2014

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City square should honour Murray

THE names recommended for the new town square are all biased towards our shipping history, yet without our docks Sunderland would have remained a third or fourth rate port, as the coal trade could not have expanded to any degree.

 It fell to two men of energy and genius to create our magnificent docks where only a tidal rocky outcrop had previously existed.

 It was the pure genius of a brilliant civil engineer, backed up by the equally brilliant entrepreneurial skills of our then member of parliament, that actually allowed Sunderland to expand, and create a need for ships.

 There have been many schemes by many great men, from the 16th century onwards, who had submitted a variety of ways to increase the capability of the river, to match the output of the massive Durham coalfield, all of which had failed for one reason or another. However, the brilliant scheme submitted by John Murray (and no one from any local history organisations has ever heard of him) was immediately taken up by George Hudson MP, and between them they made Sunderland into the greatest port between the Humber and the Firth of Forth.

 John Murray, member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, was appointed as engineer to the River Wear Commissioners in 1831, submitted his plans and costings in 1846.

 George Hudson MP saw the brilliance of the scheme, and eventually with John Murray created the Sunderland Dock Company, a separate organisation, and he set about raising the money, which at the time amounted to £300,000, in today’s world it amounts to about £240,000,000 – a staggering sum, and what an achievement by our MP.

 That is the reason we have a Hudson Road in Sunderland, a small token for such a massive achievement.

 However, there is no recognition of John Murray, no one even remembers him, except myself and Stuart Miller.

 The two plans of our river mouth, featured on the facing page, are the 1880 map before John Murray’s arrival, and the 1850 map showing the magnificent docks he created, on a rocky outcrop with the help of our town’s MP.

  The new city square deserves only one name, and that is the name of our brilliant engineer John Murray, for without him the coal trade would have gone to the Tyne and the Tees, while Sunderland would have remained a third rate port, frequented by only a smaller class of ship. The loss of trade would have impacted directly onto shipbuilding, and our proud heritage of being the largest ship building town in the world, would never have materialised.

Jack Curtis and Stuart Mill,

Living History North East

Not the Adelaide

WHO knows what the new Vaux site will be called, but if the ship that Sunderland rejected is anything to go by, then the new name will not be Adelaide Square, will it?

R Tomlinson,

Seaham

Reshuffle warning

IN the centenary year of the declaration of the First World War, David Cameron’s recent folly perversely reminded me of the conflict – the valour shown and the misery endured by so many.

 But why connect such a momentous event with Cameron’s Cabinet reshuffle?

 Well to begin with you wouldn’t have wanted him next to you in a First World War trench, would you?

 And, like the sacking of his lieutenants, troops were often used as mere pawns in battle.

 No one died in Westminster because of Mr Gove’s sacking Indeed teachers danced in the classrooms and joyously tweeted and twittered with questionable grammar, like turkeys at a Christmas cancellation party, but their pupils may yet be among the casualties.

 Gone are the middle-aged white male ministers and welcome to the post-graduate, white females.

 No doubt, the annual ball will be a huge success but watch out for the scandal.

 It is only a matter of time before blue rinse Scottish-born Tamil Tigers claim discrimination and demand a place in the cabinet.

Denis Gillon

Gove banished

WHEN I heard Michael Gove wanted to ban Of Mice and Men from the school syllabus, I told a friend that Gove should be banished East of Eden and made to eat the Grapes of Wrath.

 It looks like the Prime Minister has done just that.

Henry Whipple,

Washington

Lost its greatness

YOUR correspondent J. King (July 18) is right to describe as “simply ridiculous” the idea of bringing rock bands to Barnes Park.

 As I write, Elgar’s The Kingdom is being broadcast from The Royal Albert Hall. Muriel Foster sang in the very first performance of The Kingdom in Birmingham in 1906, as she had done in The Apostles three years earlier.

 Muriel Foster was born in 1877 here in Sunderland.

 One wonders why this once great town has become, as a city, a pale shadow of its former self.

George E Brown,

Sunderland

Bring back clock

THIS year, here in Washington, we celebrate 50 years of the New Town.

 To mark this anniversary it would be wonderful to have our Lambton Worm Clock put back in place in our refurbished Galleries.

 Many years ago it was taken by Sunderland to the old council workshop in Riverside Road, Southwick, to be stored for safe-keeping until it could be reassembled and given back to Washington.

 This clock was commissioned in the mid 1980s by the Washington Development Corporation (WDC). The sculptor was Bob Olley.

 Please find our clock and restore it in its rightful place.

 It was given to Washington by WDC. It belongs to us.

Brenda Armstrong,

Biddick

It’s all in a name

I NOTICE that the council has its excellent preparations for the Air Show well in hand.

 The bright yellow road signs have ben strategically placed all around Roker, Seaburn and Fulwell, advising motorists of alternative routes and diversions, all of which are most helpful to residents and visitors alike.

 However, I wonder how many have noticed the sign at the end of Sea Road, Fulwell, recommending that they use Queen Alexander Bridge.

Mrs Margaret Carter,

Seaburn