We set off from the Sunderland Museum and Library. I was gobsmacked to find out that after the Museums Act of 1845, Sunderland was the first place in the UK outside of London to build and open a public museum.
My own, strong, personal memories of the museum and winter gardens are two-fold. First, the Saturday morning walks around the duck-pond with various great-aunts, grandma and mam before we all went into town for shopping when I was a child. Second, my then baby-brother's pram was nicked from the museum steps when we went into the museum as a family. While my mam was understandably upset, I remember my dad's calmness and him saying that the person who stole it must've needed it more than we did.
|Sunderland museum and library (and winter gardens)|
|Presbyterian chapel built 1825|
|School built next to the chapel, above. Built 1849.|
|A flourish of Art Nouveau outside what is now a Sunderland hairdressing shop|
There was another big surprise for this Sunderland lass to be told the history of a building I'd walked past more times than I've had hot dinners. This building which is now occupied by Sunderland City Council was built as the River Wear Commissioner's office. A hugely important building, decisions were made in it that affected the prosperity of the city based on the navigation of the river Wear, opening up Sunderland to international commerce.
Find out about more talks and events from Michael with the Sunderland Heritage Quarter group on facebook.