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Sunderland town guide


Sunderland stands on the banks of the River Wear, where a natural safe harbour had formed. In Saxon times earlier settlements probably gravitated to the monastery at Wearmouth. This was famous as the school of the Venerable Bede - known as the father of English history.

The Port of Sunderland has over 800 years of history, with a maritime charter having been granted in 1154. The easy access to trade that the port fostered led to the growth of industry along the banks of the River Wear. Flemish immigrants brought the skills of Glassmaking to the area, an industry that is now celebrated at the acclaimed National Glass Centre in the city.

By the Nineteenth Century the coal industry in County Durham was well established and many colliers departed from the Port of Sunderland laden with coal for London and other cities to the South.

With sixty-five shipyards on the Wear in 1840, Sunderland could claim to be biggest shipbuilding port in the World, sadly in 1998 the last of these yards closed. Happily the skills of the local workforce were not long idle as Nissan established an automotive manufacturing plant in the city. The process of regeneration has continued with the expansion of the automotive industry replacing the last of the coalmines that closed in 1994.

Just to the west of the city and easy to reach by hire car is Washington, a place visited by many from the USA because of its links with the Washington family. Venturing further the visitor will find many attractive places to visit, including of course Durham itself with its magnificent cathedral. The Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors National Parks are both within easy reach of Sunderland in a rental car.

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