On Valentine’s Day in 1992 Sunderland was granted city status by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, marking a turning point in the history of Sunderland going forward.

In the 30 years since that fateful day Sunderland has developed into a thriving city, bustling with business, innovating new technologies and stamping its name as one of the UK’s fastest rising new cities. In celebration of this landmark anniversary we’ve taken a look back on three decades of big moments for the city…


1992 – University Of Sunderland

Sunderland University VIBE

1992 proved to be a pivotal year for Sunderland. Not only was our metropolitan borough granted city status, Sunderland Polytechnic officially became a university. Since then the university has seen thousands of students pass through its doors and follow their dreams. Some notable names include broadcaster Alison Walker, DJ Jordan North, comedian Chris Ramsey and many more. 


1997 – The Stadium of Light

Stadium of Light VIBE (1)

In July 1997 Sunderland AFC solidified itself as one of England’s biggest football clubs with a move to a brand-new future proof stadium. Having played at Roker Park since their inception in 1898, the move to a much larger all-seater stadium was monumental for the club. First opening with 43,000, before being upgraded to 49,000 seats in 2000, The Stadium of Light is England’s 9th largest football stadium and undoubtedly an iconic city landmark. 


1998 – The National Glass Centre

National Glass Centre VIBE

Built on the former site of J.L. Thompson and Sons shipyard, The National Glass Centre has become one of Sunderland’s go-to cultural attractions. Since it opened its doors in 1998, The National Glass Centre has played host to numerous mesmerising exhibitions that all celebrate Sunderland’s illustrious history of glass making. From vintage Pyrex to one-off artistic masterpieces, you never know what you’ll get with The National Glass Centre!


2001 – Winter Gardens

Winter Gardens Sunderland VIBE

As you may know, the original Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens was established in 1846. However, in 1941, during World War II, the Winter Gardens were damaged by a mine and needed to be demolished the following year. It wasn’t until 2001 that a lottery funded project would see the Winter Gardens rebuilt as an extension of the museum. Since then they’ve been an incredible asset to the city – who doesn’t love a stroll through the gardens?

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2002 – The Metro

Sunderland Metro Historic VIBE

The iconic yellow and black carriages of the Tyne and Wear Metro could first be seen hastily  transporting people around the region in 1980, when the service originally began. However, it wasn’t until 22 years later, in 2002, that Sunderland would be added as a station! 


2008 – Sunderland Aquatic Centre 

Sunderland Aquatic Centre VIBE

It was good news for all the keen swimmers in 2008, as the Sunderland Aquatic Centre opened its doors in the company of Princess Anne and a bundle of fireworks! The impressive indoor sports complex is home to the only Olympic-standard swimming pool anywhere between Glasgow and Leeds. With top of the range facilities and an Olympic pedigree, the Aquatic Centre has been a fantastic addition to the city.


2015 – Keel Square

Keel Square Sunderland VIBE

Celebrating Sunderland’s maritime and industrial heritage, Keel Square has become a picturesque meeting place in the heart of the city that we can all be proud of. Constructed in 2015, Keel Square marked a huge step forward in the ambitious development plans for the city centre. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for this beautiful part of the city.


2018 – Northern Spire Bridge 

Northern Spire Bridge VIBE

Despite it only being four years old, the Northern Spire bridge has quickly become one of Sunderland’s most iconic pieces of architecture. The breathtaking structure is a sign of things to come in the Riverside area as further developments are expected to transform this part of the city in the very near future. 


2021 – City Hall

City Hall Sunderland VIBE

One of the newest additions to the fast developing Vaux Site, the new headquarters of Sunderland City Council is a beautiful addition to the city. The City Hall building is a stylish and futuristic looking piece of architecture that’s further added to Sunderland’s fresh new look. 

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