Now our writer Tony Gillan is sharing his experience and recommending nine classic pubs he thinks everyone should try.
He said: “The nine Sunderland pubs I recommend here, in no particular order, have a small geographical spread. All but two are in the city centre.
“The list is on personal experience. In fact, I worked in most of them. See what you think.”
1. Dun Cow, High Street
Since recent refurbishments, the fabled bar fittings in the Dun Cow are more magnificent than ever. Hollywood star Howard Keel tried to buy them in the 1970s to ship back home.
I worked there in my late teens and early 20s when the clientele was very different to now. I consequently believe that bar work should be like National Service.
A daunting and surreal experience for a young chap; but never dull. Daily features back then included a 270-minute happy “hour” and pensioners almost (but never quite) coming to blows during arguments over virtually nothing.
It’s still a great pub today; but in an entirely different way.
2. The Engine Room, High Street
Usually referred to as the Fire Station, this fascinating venue only opened as a pub in November 2017, to the eternal credit of the Mac Trust who regenerated the Edwardian station which had sat abandoned for 22 years.
It has been an immediate hit with drinkers and diners of all ages, serving as a positive reminder of what investment and positivity can do in Sunderland.
Photo: Stu Norton
3. The Blue Bell, Fulwell
Always a lovely big boozer, renowned for its beer, meals and being football daft. I was quiz master in there each Tuesday for seven years. It survived the hammer blow of my departure.
Competing teams in the quiz were, let’s say, of varying calibre. The greatest quiz team ever, in my opinion, called themselves Helga Bruce.
I say greatest; they invariably finished last, but established a reputation for writing the most entertaining wrong answers ever submitted.
Photo: John Millard/UNP
4. Ivy House, Worcester Terrace
Open since Victorian times, I was barman and quiz master here.
This was during the era of legendary landlord Bobby Fairlie. Ballads have been written about the period; none of which are printable.
Patrons came from all walks of life: university professors, right down to local journalists. Not that you could see all the other patrons before 2007, when cigarette smoke could reduce visibility to less than four feet.
The air is clear now, and the Ivy has an excellent reputation for its pizzas and CAMRA-approved beers.
Photo: Tim Richardson