PIVOTAL POLITICAL SPEAKERS in Sunderland’s history are among the things to discover more about during this year’s Heritage Open Days in Tyne and Wear.

England’s largest free festival of culture and history, Heritage Open Days begins this Friday 13 September and lasts ten consecutive days until Sunday 22 September.

The programme of events, activities and guided tours of landmark buildings and places significant to Sunderland’s history, cultural and industrial heritage includes ‘The Radical North’ being held this Saturday 14 Sept at Bede Tower in Burdon Road, Sunderland 10am – 3.30pm.

Organised by Sunderland Heritage Forum and Sunderland City Council’s Heritage team, local speakers will give a series of presentations celebrating ‘People Power’ looking at the life and times of leading political figures from Sunderland’s history including John Lilburne, Thomas Hepburn, George Binns and James Williams.

Chair of the Sunderland Heritage Forum, Stuart Miller said: “There is nothing new about the dilemmas and issues surrounding BREXIT, and our speakers on Saturday at ’The Radical North’ will argue that the early 17th and 19th Centuries saw very comparable crises.

“All the circumstances present today were present in the turbulent periods leading up to events such as the Great Reform Act 1832. An Irish back-stop or ‘ red line,’ a seriously broken political system, in and out of European affairs, new social media such as handbills and newspapers, and emerging extreme radical and populist solutions – these were all present then as they are now.

“Political and social history is very much about conflicting personalities which are always present in a crisis. Come along on Saturday and hear our entertaining and authoritative speakers describe how some of these local personalities helped influence the struggle for equality and human, worker’s rights on what is the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre where 19 people lost their lives protesting for parliamentary reform.”


10.30 – 11.20am Retired university lecturer, author and member of North East Labour History Society, John Charlton – The Wind from Peterloo

11.25 – 12.10 am Former coalface electrician, member of the NUM and author of several books on the history of the Durham Miners, David Temple – Thomas Hepburn – Miners’ Leader, Preacher, Chartist

12.10 – 1.30 pm Lunch break in the refectory (Buffet lunch is available but must be booked in advance or bring your own food)

1.30 – 2.00 pm Music from The Silver Shantymen (in the main theatre)

2.00 – 2.45 pm Former journalist, Sunderland Echo reporter and leading authority on SAFC and local political history, Graeme Anderson – George Binns & James Williams – Castor and Pollux of North East Chartism

2.50 – 3.30 Liberation theological scholar and Chaplain to the University of Sunderland, Chris Howson – John Lilburne and the Agitators of Sunderland: Civil War and Radical Dissent

Other Highlights of the Heritage Open Days programme in Sunderland Include;

Hard Hat Tours of Holy Trinity Church, Church Street St 14 Sept 10.30 – 3pm
Heritage walks including Bowes Railway, Ryhope, Elba Park, Hetton, Roker and a ‘geology walk’ around the city centre.
Open days at Darwin Brewery, Quaker Meeting House, Donnison School, Ryhope Pumping Station, Bowes Railway, Washington Old Hall and the North East Land.
Sunderland City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “There are 40 tours, events and activities taking place across Sunderland to bring local history and culture to life during the regional Heritage Open Days programme.

“There really is something for everyone, and I’d urge everyone to have a look at the website and see what’s on offer.”

The Heritage Open Days programme of events and activities is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust, with support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and run by local councils and community champions with lots of enthusiastic volunteers.

In Tyne & Wear, Heritage Open Days is co-ordinated by the regional local authorities Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland City Council, in association with Tyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Sunderland Heritage Forum and the Newcastle upon Tyne Association of City Guides.

To find out more please visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk or contact Janet Robinson/Trina Murphy on 0191 561 8413

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