Sunday, 30 September 2007

Seaham pebbles

Stones and pebbles on the beach at Seaham

Saturday, 29 September 2007


Tree - covered in the remains of a long-dead ivy plant

Friday, 28 September 2007

Prebends Bridge, Durham

Beautiful old bridge on the River Wear in Durham City.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Echo Building

The corner of a big brand-spanking-new apartment building that has just been built on the riverside next to Wearmouth Bridge.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

This is the lower part of the porch and tower of St Peter's Church which was built in AD 674. I chose this photo because it shows some Anglo Saxon stonework put there by Anglo Saxon hands over 1300 years ago.

The Venerable Bede (AD 672-735) was sent here as a 7 year old boy to train to be a monk and in AD 794 the monastery was attacked and set on fire by Viking raiders.

All that history and it's right on my doorstep.

It's still a fully functional church and a lot of my ancestors were baptised, married or buried from there.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Church Walk

View down the side of Holy Trinity Church. The small building between the two sets of railings is the old Donnison School building - a Georgian schoolroom for girls. The building came up for sale in 2000 and was bought by the Living History group. It was set on fire by vandals while it stood empty and had to be extensively renovated.

During renovation work, builders found two skeletons under the floor. The local coroner was called and he said the bones were ancient as the building had probably been erected on top of part of the churchyard over a couple of graves.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Doorway in Durham

This low doorway is situated in the gatehouse behind Durham Cathedral. It has some pieces of bell-rope nailed to it to protect it from unobservant people who don't watch where they're going.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Altar in Holy Trinity Church

Another picture of Holy Trinity Church in the East End. This one shows the altar and colourful stained glass window behind it. This church was built in 1719 in the 'baroque' style and has some decorative and ornate features. Sadly, it is now redundant and in need of a good overhaul - you can see the paint is peeling in a few places. It is steeped in the history of the East End and I was extremely fortunate to have permission to have my daughter christened there.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Over the water

View directly across the River Wear towards Monkwearmouth. People from both sides of the river refer to those who live on the other side as those who live 'ower the watter' (over the water), a distance of just over 100 metres.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Austin's Pontoon

This is one of the signs shown in the photo for yesterday. The sculpture 'Ambit' by Alison Wilding is no longer here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

View down river from south bank

The riverside is very quiet these days. This was the biggest shipbuilding town in the world and on this part of the river, ships were berthed for fitting and repairs. I will post a picture of one of the signs fixed to the barrier tomorrow which explains a little more.

In the distance, the yellow buildings on the north bank are part of Sunderland University's St Peters Campus. Beyond that you can just see what are left of the cranes that were a common feature of the Sunderland skyline.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Bridge supports on north side of river

Photo showing the brickwork supporting the underside of the bridges across the Wear in Sunderland. The picture below (17 Sept) doesn't show much of the railway bridge immediately behind the road bridge.

I also forgot to mention - River Wear is pronounced to rhyme with 'beer'. Just another of our North East idiosyncracies. (See the whole of Northumberland for some really unpronounceable place names!!!)

Monday, 17 September 2007

Wear Bridge

This is the main bridge over the River Wear in the centre of Sunderland. It is similar in design to the Tyne Bridge in the centre of Newcastle and also to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was opened in 1929 by the then Duke of York who later became King George VI. He ceremonially placed the final rivet - allegedly made of silver - in the construction to declare it open.

Sunday, 16 September 2007


Every afternoon at this time of year, at about 2pm a flock of young starlings arrives in my street. They are flocking together and feeding before moving on to their night time roosts. I live in a very busy built up area - the houses in this part of town have no gardens at the front, so it is unusual to see any sort of wildlife in the street.

They make a lot of noise for about 15 minutes then suddenly, as one, they're silent and fly off.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Optical Illusion

Advertisement for a local optician.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Cat on a Hot Slate Roof

The cat from a few doors away loves being in my yard because I have 4 rabbits who she finds intriguing.

I also have 4 cats who she finds a bit scary so whenever I let the cats out she runs up on top of the garage roof where she thinks we can't see her.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Church Door

This is the main door for Holy Trinity Church. The church was built in 1719 and I dont think the door is quite as old as that, although it is old and faded and looks like it needs varnishing. There is quite a gap at the top where the door has dropped on it's hinges.

Over a hundred years ago. the parish fire engine and stocks were housed behind this door until they were needed.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Good night and God bless, Ian Porterfield

Took this tonight with my mobile phone. Some of the tributes left in memory of footballer Ian Porterfield who died last night. Ian played for Sunderland AFC and scored the only goal in the 1973 FA Cup Final at Wembley against a far superior Leeds United team. We went in as the underdogs on that Saturday afternoon and emerged victorious. Ian is a local hero in these parts and will always be remembered with gratitude, pride and affection.

The statue is of SAFC manager Bob Stokoe who took the team to Wembley that season. The pose is taken from photographs of him running onto the pitch moments after the final whistle blew. Winning the FA Cup that year was a massive event in the town and unforgettable for those of us who lived through it.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Sunderland Parish Church

This is a photograph of Holy Trinity also known as Sunderland Parish Church. It is situated in what is now the East End of Sunderland. The East End itself covers an area which used to be the tiny village of Sunderland. The church itself is now redundant due to a declining congregation.
The East End didn't have a very good reputation and has undergone major regeneration work in the last 20 or so years. The area around the church has been sympathetically restored and the street lighting has been carefully designed to add to the atmosphere. I stood outside the church after dark tonight and the old-fashioned street lamps cast a subdued, gentle glow over the old building. I could easily have been taken back to Victorian times; there were no cars and no modern-day noises to break the magic.
It is a well-documented fact that 'resurrectionists' Burke and Hare lodged in Sunderland for a while and robbed the graveyard of this church to provide corpses for Edinburgh surgeons.

Monday, 10 September 2007

The ford and stepping stones at Stanhope

Not strictly a photo of Sunderland but it is still the River Wear not far from it's source in Weardale as it flows through the village of Stanhope (pronounced Stannup). There is a crossing point here for vehicles just in front of the stepping stones, which was closed on this particular day as it was Stanhope Show weekend. However lots of people still made good use of the stepping stones without the risk of being splashed by passing traffic. (Back to schooldays again: we had a geography field trip to Stanhope - imagine almost 200 squealing 13 year olds all trying to cross the stones at once. There must have been six to a stepping stone at some points!)
At this time of year the river is quite shallow, but in the winter it is totally impassable and drivers who tried to tough it out have had to be airlifted out of the river.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Seaham Beach

First of all, my apologies for not posting yesterday. We went out for the day and I came home with a blinding headache (no alcohol involved either) so went to bed and was unable to post.

Today I am showing a view of part of the beach at Seaham, just along the coast from us. The beach is at the bottom of cliffs and is not the easiest place to get to so it hasn't been developed in the same way as Roker, Seaburn and South Shields. The tide comes in very quickly here too and people often get stranded.

The beach itself is very stony due partly to erosion of the cliffs. This photograph shows how boulder clay has slipped down the rocks and onto the beach. There are shallow caves in the rock which become visible when the sea washes the clay away. But I'm too scared to go in them.

Friday, 7 September 2007

My old school

A photo showing the front of my old secondary school. It has some rather peculiar tilework on the front of this block. You can see the windows of the assembly hall under the yellow tiles - the last time I was in there was to sit an exam.

It's only once you've left school that you can begin to appreciate the fun you had - dangling fellow classmates out of windows by their ankles; buying crisps and Mars Bars from the 6th Form tuck shop for 3rd Formers one day, and refusing to do it the next; watching school caretakers shovelling water off the all-weather pitches into plastic dustbins during one incredibly boring maths lesson.

I send my son there now and the all-weather pitches look exactly as they used to. Bet the drainage is still non-existant too.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

'I'll do graffiti ....

... if you sing to me in French', sing Maximo Park. I wonder if any French was sung to inspire this artwork on the subway under Durham Road? 'Non regrette rien' perhaps, or maybe 'Au clair de la lune'? What about 'Zank 'eaven for leetle girls'? Who knows?
*Gives Gallic shrug*

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

University of Sunderland

Sunderland University as viewed from the Metro station. The 3 buildings in the centre formed part of the original Polytechnic which was granted University status in 1992. The small building on the left is Wearmouth Hall where bands used to play. I think it is earmarked for demolition but it has some really crazy decoration on it - whoever designed it must have been smoking something very strong at the time!! I will try and photograph the patterns before it is pulled down.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Derelict Building

This is one of the few remaining properties which give some idea of what the old East End of Sunderland was like. It is situated on High Street East and is an example of the typical three story terraced building that lined this street. It and it's neighbour (just seen on the right) have been derelict for some time and have been badly neglected considering how much the East End has been totally re-vamped in the last 10 years.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Straw Bales

Seeing the straw baled like this means that summer is officially over, days are getting shorter and that colder days are on the way.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Gilley Law Flats

View across the A690 towards the five tower blocks at Gilley Law. In the background you can just see the sea on the horizon. In the foreground you can see two old tyres, the remains of an improvised horse jump.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Anti-aircraft Pill-box

This pill-box is situated on a farm near Herrington, Sunderland. During the Second World War its role was to watch the coast for enemy planes heading towards the shipyards on the River Wear.