We’re remembering the 101 year anniversary of the First World War in Sunderland with a historical guide around Wearside. We’ve picked out a handful of places that played a pivotal role in shaping WW1.
Sunderland Echo Printing Office
Bridge Street, Sunderland SR1 1TQ
On the 4 August 1914, residents rushed to the streets around the Sunderland Echo’s printing office with people eager to hear the latest news from Westminster. As the clock struck midnight, news filtered through that Britain had declared war on Germany.
In response to the deadly Zeppelin attack on 1 April 1916 in Sunderland, the Royal Flying Corps requisitioned fields belonging to South Moor farms and developed Hylton Aerodrome. Although the name was later changed to RAF Usworth, the main task was to patrol the North East coast for enemy activity. The former airfield site has now been redeveloped as a manufacturing facility for Nissan.
Victoria Hall and Temperance Institute
Burdon Road, Sunderland SR1 1PP
Victoria Hall and Temperance Institute was a beautiful, gothic-style building erected in 1870 and nestled in the grounds of Mowbray Park. Recruitment rallies were regularly held at Victoria Hall as the government urged local men to sign up for wartime duty. A staggering 8.7 million men served in the British Army during WW1, with over 25,000 thousand men hailing from Sunderland alone. This amazing building may have been tragically lost during a German bomber raid in 1941, but you can still immerse yourself in WW1 history at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.
Broomshields Close, Sunderland SR5 1SJ
Built to help coastal defences detect approaching enemy attacks, a 15-foot concave concrete dish was constructed at Namey Hill in Fulwell. Built in 1917, the Acoustic Mirror had a sensitive microphone located in the centre to help identify enemy forces.
Burdon Rd, Sunderland SR2 7DZ
Built in 1851 by Mayor of Sunderland Anthony John Moore, Bede Tower played a pivotal role during WW1 for the allied forces. The building was used as a regimental hospital for military casualties wounded in action and also acted as a voluntary aid depot for soldiers – supplying servicemen with clothing, sanitaries and gifts throughout their recovery. Bede Tower has since been fully refurbished and visitors can now partake in medical workshops and learn about first aid.
Sunderland War Memorial
Burdon Rd, Sunderland SR1 1QB
Standing tall in the grounds of Mowbray Park, the Sunderland War Memorial is the focal point for the Remembrance Sunday celebration in Sunderland. Unveiled by Colonel Ernest Vaux on 26 December 1922, the column is made from marbled granite and weighs a monstrous 85 tons! Initially dedicated to those who fell during WW1, the memorial has become a icon for remembering those who have lost their lives during conflict.