Remember Sunderland The Way It Used To Be

With a vast collection of photographic material, it is impossible for museums to show all of them at once.

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens have an intriguing collection of photos varying in subject and content, which I have had the pleasure in viewing. Here’s one of Sunderland centre below.

Horse Procession

This shows Sunderland’s annual horse procession coming along High Street West towards Bishopwearmouth, west of the Fawcett Street junction, in 1883.

Along with help from Les Golding (Photographer for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums), I have been uploading some of these collections on to a page on Facebook called “Old Photographs of Sunderland” view here

Other collections include Wearmouth Colliery, which Les photographed in the last week of production before closure, including the photograph below.

Wearmouth Colliery, November 1993. Photographer Les Golding

 The latest collection I have come across in Sunderland, are photographs relating to visits made by blind children and adults to Sunderland Museum from 1913. Charlton Deas, curator of Sunderland Museum at the time, was a pioneer in making museums accessible to disabled people, especially to the blind/visually impaired. In 1913 he organised a number of handling sessions for both blind adults and children from Sunderland Council Blind School.

Here is a young girl who is blind - examining mounted birds at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

It is amazing to think that as early as 1913, museums were trying to make the collections as accessible as possible and with the determination of Charlton Deas, he managed to help these people “see” through the sense of touch, objects that they may not have come across without his help.

In a document written by Charlton Deas titled “What the Blind May ‘See’: Some Museum and Other Experiments in Tactile Sight.” he explains the handling sessions that he organised and gives us an insight in to the work that he did to make it happen.

I will be highlighting some of his text in future comments on Facebook and will look in more depth at his work in the next blog, so watch this space.

Do you have any old photos of Sunderland that you would like to share or just fancy having a browse through to see what you recognise? Check out this page on Facebook and ‘like’ if you enjoyed what you saw and feel free to join in and share your own photos!

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