Ultimate guide to Sunderland as City of Culture judges arrive on Wearside

Roker Beach
Roker Beach
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Today’s the day judges arrive on Wearside to decide whether Sunderland should be named City of Culture 2021.

After a day in the city, they’ll be weighing up our merits, as well as our potential to be a cultural hot spot, against the other short-listed cities, which are Coventry, Paisley, Swansea and Stoke - before a winner is announced in December. They’ll be looking at who needs the culture crown most - the title is very much a catalyst for culture, rather than just a celebration of what’s already in place.

The Raich Carter mural in Hendon

The Raich Carter mural in Hendon

To help them on their trip around the city, we’ve rounded up some useful phrases and some must-see locations.

Ten useful Mackem phrases

Ha’way: A word used to get people to hurry up, as in “Ha’way man.” Not, under any circumstances, to be confused with the Geordie Ho’way.

Canny: A word with more meanings than the Oxford English Dictionary can cope with. From canny weather (nice), canny scran (good food), canny cold (very) and gan canny (go carefully/take care).

Washington F Pit.

Washington F Pit.

Gannin’: Going. As in “I’m gannin’ yem like” - I’m going home.

Marra: Someone you’re friends with, as in “is he / she your marra like?”

Hoy: Two meanings - throw and pub crawl. As in “hoy a hamma owa here” and “I’m gannin’ on the hoy like.”

Like: A word to be added, like, at least twice to each sentence, like, even when, like, not needed. Like.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Hacienda Classical at Herrington Country Park, Penshaw.

Gadgie: Man. As in “look at that gadgie with the git big hat on - he’s nee marra o’ mine” - “Look at the man with the big hat - he’s no friend of mine.”

Clammin’: Hungry. As in “I’m like clammin’ for me bait”.

Skinchies: A period of truce in a playground game signified by one crossing their fingers, as in “nor, it doesn’t count, it was skinchies.”

Us: Means me. Sounds confusing, because it is, as in “pass us that sarnie,” which translates as “pass me that sandwich.”

Eight must-see locations

The coastline: One of a few cities in England to have beaches, Sunderland boasts the twin resorts of Roker and Seaburn which have attracted families, dog walkers and sand castle makers for hundreds of years. Judges can admire Roker Pier, stop off for a cuppa at Sue’s Cafe and examine the public art on the sculpture trail which follows the path of the river. For a quieter beach stroll, there’s also Hendon Beach.

The Fire Station and Sunderland Empire: As well as existing culture, such as the historic Empire, arguably one of England’s prettiest theatres, judges will be looking at emerging venues capable of hosting events should we win the 2021 title, such as The Fire Station.

Street Art: Buildings in Sunniside and Hendon have provided a blank canvas for striking street art in recent years. One of the most impressive works has to be the Raich Carter mural, in honour of one of the city’s most celebrated footballers, created by Frank Styles on the side of the Blue House pub in Hendon.

Washington F Pit: The City of Culture title isn’t just about the city centre, but the area as a whole and its heritage. Head to the F Pit to see an industrial monument to the area’s coalmining history.

Penshaw Monument and Herrington Country Park: A prime example of how a former industrial site can find a new future in culture, Herrington Country Park stands on a former pit which is now used to host events, such as Radio 1’s Big Weekend and more recently Hacienda Classical. Meanwhile, Penshaw Monument is a North East landmark and worth the hike up to the top for some of the best views in the city.

Sunderland Maritime Heritage and East End: There are few areas in the city more rich in history than the East End which grew up around the Port and the shipbuilding industry. Head to Canny Space at Holy Trinity Church to see how arts and culture are breathing new life into a forgotten church and visit the nearby Sunderland Maritime Heritage, which keeps the skills alive which once helped the then town become of the world’s greatest centres of shipbuilding. Feeling hungry? Grab a spot of lunch at the recently renovated Boar’s Head Bistro, the city’s second-oldest pub, which now boasts art works celebrating East End characters and a terrace overlooking the mouth of the Wear, which will offer a spectacular vantage point for next year’s Tall Ships Race.

Monkwearmouth Station Museum, soon to open as The Fans Museum: Few things stir more passion in most Mackems than football. The Fans Museum is the brainchild of lifelong Sunderland AFC fan Michael Ganley, who has amassed a huge collection of valuable memorabilia over the last 30 years.

National Glass Centre: Another prime example of how long-gone industry can find new life in the arts, National Glass Centre celebrates the city’s centuries-long history in the glass-making business while also fostering new talent.

Find out how you can play a part in welcoming the judges here

The City of Culture title is just an award for existing culture? Wrong! 21 City of Culture myths busted here

What does the bid mean to our economy? Find out here