Monkey's Blood, Barra Boys and Yentl - and they all have a link to Sunderland

What’s the connection between Barbra Streisand and a ship that ended its days on the Wear? It is all explained in a new book.

Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 7:11 pm
Soldiers marching in front of the Echo Office in Bridge Street after the First World War.

The book titled ‘Sunderland – Barrow Boys, Plodgin’ and Monkey’s Blood, is written by Alan Brett and looks at fascinating stories surrounding Sunderland.

It is the latest book from Black Cat Publications and talks about subjects such as the Barra Boys who sold fruit and veg from barrows when air raids left bomb sites in the town centre.

It also tells how Hollywood star Barbara Streisand had used the ferry Manxman in her film Yentl – decades before the vessel was broken up at Pallion.

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The front cover of the new book.

Famous shops such as Joplings, Liverpool House, Binns and Havelock House are all included.

So are industries like paint manufacturers Camrex, sweet makers Trobe & Co with their Cremona toffee, as well as the famous shipbuilders like Doxfords which once lined the Wear.

Alan said: “Plodgin’ and Monkey’s Blood have also been long associated with Sunderland.

“Plodgin’ has not always just be confined to Roker and Seaburn and, in the past, streets from Hendon to Millfield had to be plodged at times. Ice cream sellers still ask: “Do you want Monkey’s Blood on that?”

The Peace Celebration Medal given to Sunderland schoolchildren in 1919.

But these are not the only tales in the new book which is now on sale.

Other snippets include;

l Every school pupil in Sunderland receiving a Peace Medal to commemorate the signing of the Versailles Treaty. The name of the Mayor, William Frederick Vint, and the town crest appeared on the medal as part of Sunderland’s

celebrations to mark the official end of the First World War in 1919.

l Wearsiders celebrating special days such as the shoemakers and cobblers marching on St Crispin’s Day or fundraising for sailors on Jack Crawford Day.

l There’s a look at some of the longest established firms such as wholesale grocer and provision merchant Joshua Wilson and Brothers.

l There’s a nod to Sunderland’s picture houses like the Regal, Havelock and the ‘Milly’. Music and dancing was provided by The Rink, La Strada and pubs included The Grapes, White House and Burlington Inn.

l Alan tells of the biggest names in showbusiness to appear in Sunderland – from comedy greats Laurel & Hardy to heavyweight boxing champion of the world Bob Fitzsimmons.

l Harry Houdini amazed audiences at the Avenue Theatre and, in the summer of 1966, the midnight cabaret at Wetherells was provided by Marianne Faithfull.

l And there’s the tale of young girl living in Wear Street in 1840 who prophesied the assassination attempt on Queen Victoria a month before it occurred.

These are just some of the stories – illustrated with over 500 photographs, adverts, maps and programmes – that appear in the book.

Sunderland – Barrow Boys, Plodgin’ and Monkey’s Blood is available from Waterstones, Sunderland Museum, Sunderland Antiquarian Society, National Glass Centre and priced £9.99.