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Sunderland Community Lectures 2019

May 22 @ 14:00 - August 21 @ 14:00

Why waste a day in the house?  Woodwork paints itself if you leave it long enough….Your son will do the ironing….Gardens benefit from neglect and abandonment….Someone else will do the cooking….

What else can you do…?

Come along to the Sunderland Community Lectures which are running throughout Summer 2019 and which are themed around “Crossings” because of the opening of the new cable-stayed Northern Spire Bridge

The Sunderland Community Lectures are free. They are on Wednesday afternoon in the University of Sunderland’s Sir Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre, Prospect Building, Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s, St Peter’s Way, Sunderland SR1 3SD.

The lectures begin on 22 May commencing at 2.30pm and are approximately one hour in duration. They run through to 21 August. Do arrive in the Prospect Building between 2.00pm – 2.30pm to register before the lecture begins.

There is (pay) parking in the grounds of the campus. The St. Peter’s Metro Station is within a few minutes walking distance. Alternatively a regular bus service runs from the Park Lane Bus Station to St Peter’s Campus itself.

Come along, better still – come along and bring a friend!

Stuart Miller


22nd May The Causes of the Tay Bridge Disaster (Eric Fletcher) (When the Tay Bridge was opened on the 1st June 1878 it was described as a marvel of Victorian engineering. Seven months later during a violent storm the central part of the bridge collapsed plunging a train and 75 people, 85ft down into the Tay. The lecture will look at how the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the bridge contributed to the disaster and the crucial role played by the personality of designer Thomas Bouch)

5th June From Tyne to Tweed in old postcards (George Nairn) (Having made other journeys in County Durham by old postcards in previous lectures George will now undertake a journey from the Tyne to the Tweed along “Northumberland’s lordly strand”)

 19th June The Lake Baikal Ferry (Alan Owen) (In 1895 a contract between the Russian Imperial Government and Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was signed for a unique icebreaking ferry to operate on Lake Baikal as part of the new Trans-Siberian Railway. By June 1896 it had been delivered in flat-pack form. It was launched in 1899 and operated until 1918. This lecture will describe how the crossing of the largest freshwater lake in the world was achieved through the skills of North East Engineers)

 17th July The Biddick Ferryman (David Inch) (In the 18th Century a ferry-boat service operated between North and South Biddick on the River Wear. For a period the ferryman was a man named James Drummond. Was he a simple ferryman or was he someone of quite amazing status ? This talk explores a fascinating local legend)

 7th August Crossing the Tyne (Pat Lowery) (The Romans built the first bridge over the Tyne and a fort to protect the crossing. Since then several bridges and tunnels have been built to transport people and goods from one side to the other. This lecture will look at some of the river crossings both above and below the river, their construction and use, and stories of the people who built and used them)

 21st August The Wearmouth Bridge (Stuart Miller) (The first Wearmouth Bridge at Sunderland was the second iron bridge in the world, and much more ambitious than that at Ironbridge. It was soon added to the “bucket list” of contemporary travellers. This talk will explore the background to the building of the bridge, describe its novel construction and outline the intriguing controversy about who was responsible for the design)



May 22 @ 14:00
August 21 @ 14:00


University of Sunderland’s Sir Tom Cowie Lecture Theatre
St Peter's Way
Sunderland, SR1 3SD