Celebrating the River Wear and Coastal Artworks
Sunderland is a city with a difference — a modern, bustling centre balanced with a relaxing green environment, stunning coastal scenery and a refreshing attitude to life.
The city is set right on the mouth of the River Wear next to an award-winning coastline and surrounded by easily accessible countryside. Sunderland has a range of outstanding heritage, cultural and sporting attractions and a great programme of annual events. Whether you’re after relaxation, invigoration or both, the distinctive mix of city, coast and countryside will definitely be a breath of fresh air.
The C2C (Coast to Coast) and W2W (Walney to Wear) cycle routes were developed by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity. Both routes cut across the country from the North West to the North East and pass through some fascinating countryside and urban spaces. The routes bring new visitors to Sunderland and introduce many new cyclists to the sheer exhilaration of cycling coast to coast.
With support from One North East and Sustrans, Sunderland City Council has commissioned a series of artworks to greet cyclists as they reach the final leg of the routes and to mark the finishing point at Roker at the seafront. Created by artist Andrew Small, the designs for the artwork were inspired by Bede, 8th Century monk and father of modern history based at Wearmouth-Jarrow, the 2011 UK World Heritage Nomination Site, who calculated the motion of the sun and the moon to set the dates of Easter.
The first artwork ‘Second Sun’ is located next to Wearmouth Bridge. ‘Second Sun’ consists of an aluminium sphere featuring animated images of the sun taken from a NASA satellite. Those who study the artwork as they pass will see the sun rotate and flare, while those who choose to stare directly at Second Sun will see it in 3D.
From Wearmouth Bridge cyclists encounter a series of way-markers which have been placed along the final mile of the C2C. Each way-marker features images of planets in the solar system, sited at relative distances from Second Sun with a countdown to the end of
The artwork ‘C’, located at Roker, celebrates and creates an end point for cyclists as they finish this challenging and exciting journey. ‘C’ is a large granite monolith, which frames Roker Lighthouse and places the end of the route firmly in Sunderland. The mirror-polished finish, reflecting surroundings and people nearby, has star constellations etched into its surface. The monolith has been positioned so that when Easter Sunday dawns, the sun will shine directly through it.
These exciting commissions will improve the experience for cyclists completing the cross-country routes in Sunderland and is part of a citywide programme to develop art in public places. Sunderland is aiming to create a quality environment, further boosting Sunderland’s reputation as a great place to live, work, study and visit.
These artworks will create a sense of celebration and anticipation as cyclists approach the end of the route. Many celebrate by dipping their front wheel in the North Sea. Cyclists completing the C2C and the W2W can now record their achievement with a new and impressive photo opportunity.
Sunderland Tourist Information Centre
City Library and Arts Centre
Tel: 0191 553 2000
Heritage, history and culture at your seaside rendezvous
Sunderland was once home of shipbuilding, coal-mining, glass blowing and rope making, but it has reinvented itself since becoming a city in 1992, and is now a fascinating mixture of history, heritage and modern facilities to welcome the rider on the last few miles of their voyage. It lies alongside the River Wear, and there has been a major trading hub here since Anglo-Saxon times, when it was one of Europe’s major centres of learning and education thanks to the twin monastic settlements of St Peter’s (built in 674 with examples of the oldest stained glass in England) and St Paul’s. This is where the Venerable Bede wrote the first history of England and it was also here that the art of glass blowing was introduced. By the middle ages, it was one of the biggest and wealthiest towns in England; and that was before the real boom times arrived during the Industrial Revolution, when its population exploded from 15,000 to 150,000 in just a few years. That was when the harbour, created to handle a few smal fishing vessels, blossomed into the biggest international centre for shipbuilding, with as many as 16 working yards. Then, in 1988, more than 550 years of history ended when the last shipyard closed. The coal trains and the heavy industry are long gone, but the grandeur of those Victorian riches can still be seen in echoes of the shipyards visible from the Wearmouth bridge; the elegant architecture, and the country parks at Roker and Mowbray. Now, the dockside that was once fil ed with soot, coal dust and the sparks flying from the yards, is an elegant sculpture trail where tranquil ity and works of art have replaced the thunder of heavy industry. Nowadays, it is a city in tune with nature. The country parks at Herrington and Hetton Lyons are worth the diversion and the route skirts the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust nature reserve at Washington. When you reach the sea you are greeted by the longest stretch of cityside beach in the UK. Sunderland is also reinventing itself as a modern waterfront city, with bars, restaurants and a thriving nightlife (if you’ve got the energy for dancing after pedal ing over the spine of England) to welcome you. On the way you pass Washington village, the ancestral home of George Washington, winner of the American War of Independence: symbolically completing the loop since Whitehaven, the start of the C2C, is where his grandparents had their home.
Arts Centre Washington Biddick Lane, Fatfield District 7, Washington, Tyne & Wear, NE38 8AB The Arts Centre Washington is a vibrant focus for arts activities offering a year round programme of arts activities includes exhibitions, theatre, dance, music, festivals, classes and workshops for all ages. 0191 219 3455 www.artscentrewashington.com
Riverside Sculpture Trail Between the Wearmouth Bridge and the Marina, the promenade offers a connected trail of specially commissioned artworks in metal and stone that refer back to the city’s history and heritage.
Washington Wildfowl & Wetland Centre Pattinson, Washington NE38 8LE. This recreated wetland provides a ‘stop over’ and wintering habitat for migratory waterbirds after their passage over the North Sea and the Wetland Discovery Centre offers both a window on the wide range of wildlife and a programme of art exhibitions. 0191 416 5454 www.wwt.org.uk
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens Burdon Road, Sunderland SR1 1PP.
Sunderland’s museum is hugely popular with visitors of al ages and offers a range of fascinating multimedia installations to tell the city’s story from its early foundations to the present day and one of the gal eries boasts an extensive col ection of paintings by LS Lowry. 0191 553 2323 www.twmuseums.org.uk
Stadium of Light, SR5 1SU. Magnificent 48,000-seater stadium built on the site of Wearmouth Colliery that closed in 1994. Well worth a visit, tours are available. Alongside is the brand new Olympic standard 50 metre swimming pool, the only one of its kind between Leeds and Edinburgh. 0191 551 5055 www.safc.com
The Sunderland Empire High Street West, Sunderland SR1 3EX.
Opened in 1907, is the North East’s largest theatre and a splendid example of Edwardian architecture. Fol owing a £4.5 mil ion refurbishment the Empire now boasts 21st Century facilities and is the only theatre between Manchester and Edinburgh capable of staging large West End productions. 0870 602 1130 www.getlive.co.uk/sunderland
National Glass Centre Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0GL. Housed in an innovative glass- roofed building on the north bank of the Wear, the National Glass Centre is a fascinating experience and visitors can explore the full history of glass making in the UK and see cutting edge examples of the contemporary glass maker’s art. 0191 515 5555 www.nationalglasscentre.com
Wearmouth Bridge Built in 1796 and seen as a catalyst for the growth of Sunderland. The previous bridge was at Chester-le-Street. There was a pedestrian tol until 1846, and for vehicles until 1885. The adjacent railway bridge opened in 1879 and carries both Metro and conventional rail.
Marine Activities Centre North Dock, Roker, Sunderland SR6 0PW. The marina at Roker is Sunderland’s main focus for all types of water-based sports and leisure activities and boasts an Italian restaurant with panoramic sea views. It’s also near your C2C finishing line. 0191 514 1847 86
City Centre Across the Wearmouth Bridge stands Sunderland City Centre, incorporating great places to eat, drink and shop and includes bike shops, the Central Railway Station and venues well worth a visit:
St Peter’s Church East of the Wearmouth Bridge, alongside the C2C and the University is St Peter’s church, home to the Venerable Bede until he moved to St Paul’s in Jarrow. There is now a walkway and cycleway linking the two, and you may spot the smal blue signs for it along the rest of the route.
Sunniside & Sunniside Gardens A large area of public open space in the eastern part of the city centre. The surrounding area is emerging as a cultural quarter with new bars and restaurants and over 100 listed buildings.
Roker Beach and Pier With its distinctive red and white granite lighthouse, Roker beach provides a wonderful seaside playground and is an ideal place for water sports, with the Marine Activities Centre and other facilities close by.
Northeast Aircraft Museum: after the Wetlands Centre heading east, near Nissan and the riverside close to the A19, is the new museum which is starting to absorb the military vehicle collection from the old Newcastle museum. There is a mock World War II street to be erected soon and the North East Bus Preservation Society is gradually moving across its collection of trams and coaches from Newcastle.
Hylton Castle: A short distance after the A19 is Hylton Castle, displaying an early Stars and Stripes emblem that the Washingtons eventually took with them to USA. The Hylton family were keen fighters and their castle ruins provided inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
The Cliff: pub near to the finish is mentioned in a good ale guide and provides the seat of learning for students doing Sunderland university’s brewing course.