Life in Sunderland in 1956: 9 facts from the year we last played the Magpies in the FA Cup

Premium Bonds were launched and a Sunderland store went up in flames
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1956: The year when Sunderland and Newcastle last met in the FA Cup.

Here's an idea of what was happening on Wearside all those years ago, and it was an eventful 12 months.

The first elevator in town

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Joplings - whose store had been gutted by fire - re-opened in May 1956. It had the town’s first ever escalator (although it only went one way - up).

The brand new Jopljngs store in Sunderland in 1956.The brand new Jopljngs store in Sunderland in 1956.
The brand new Jopljngs store in Sunderland in 1956.

Union Street market was held for the last time in October 1956. It had been held on the site of the Empress Hotel which was bombed in the Second World War.

Stage star Tommy Steele first performed at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland in 1956. He was 19 years old when he headlined a variety show.

Tommy Steele at the Sunderland Empire). Tickets from 1 and sixpence.Tommy Steele at the Sunderland Empire). Tickets from 1 and sixpence.
Tommy Steele at the Sunderland Empire). Tickets from 1 and sixpence.

Football on Christmas Day at Roker Park

That same year, a fire destroyed half of the Castletown branch of Ryhope and Silksworth Co-operative Society.

The fire which ravaged through the Co-op building.The fire which ravaged through the Co-op building.
The fire which ravaged through the Co-op building.
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Premium bonds went on sale at Sunderland Post Office and Mr C Fetrich, Chairman of Sunderland Savings Committee, was first to buy one.

Mr C Fetrich buying a Premium Bond in 1956.Mr C Fetrich buying a Premium Bond in 1956.
Mr C Fetrich buying a Premium Bond in 1956.

1956 was the last time Sunderland played a football match on Christmas Day. We won 1-0 against Aston Villa at Roker Park with a Billy Bingham goal.

Don Revie signed for Sunderland that year and the Echo photographers caught up with him as he watched his new team-mates from the directors box.

Don Revie, bottom centre, in the directors box after signing for Sunderland.Don Revie, bottom centre, in the directors box after signing for Sunderland.
Don Revie, bottom centre, in the directors box after signing for Sunderland.

A new pavilion was unveiled at Silksworth CW football club.

It cost between £3,000 and £4,000.

The new Silksworth C.W. football pavillion, officially opened by County Councillor Edward Pearson, Chairman of Silksworth Miners Welfare Committee.The new Silksworth C.W. football pavillion, officially opened by County Councillor Edward Pearson, Chairman of Silksworth Miners Welfare Committee.
The new Silksworth C.W. football pavillion, officially opened by County Councillor Edward Pearson, Chairman of Silksworth Miners Welfare Committee.

There were changing rooms for both home and visiting teams, with each player allotted his own locker.

Pigeons living in luxury

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There were also are six showers for the teams and accommodation for the referee and linesmen.

A two-storey pigeon loft designed by Col Armand Hopas of Cleadon - was dismantled from its base in West Hartlepool and moved by road to Sunderland.

Four workers spent 6 months getting it ready for use. They even added a row of railway sleepers to give it extra strength.

If you know someone with memories of life on Wearside in 1956, tell us more by emailing [email protected]