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Sunderland lies at the heart of the City of Sunderland, a metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. It is situated at the mouth of the River Wear. The name "Sunderland" is reputed to come from Soender-land (soender/sunder being the Anglo-Saxon infinitive, meaning "to part",, likely to be reference to the valley carved by the River Wear on whose south bank the original settlement of Sunderland was founded.
Administrative CountySunderland
Traditional CountyDurham
OS GridNZ3957
OS Settlement ClassificationCity
RegionNorth East
Police AuthorityNorthumbria
Fire and Rescue AuthorityTyne and Wear
Fire and Rescue AuthorityTyne and Wear
Ambulance AuthorityNorth East
Dialling code0191
Population177,739 (2001 Census)

Other names by which Sunderland has been known in the past

Wearmouth ~ Wiran Muth

Sunderland in John Bartholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" (1887)

Sunderland.-- parl. and mun. bor., seaport town, and par., Durham, at mouth of river Wear, 12 miles SE. of Newcastle and 265 from London by rail - par., 220 ac. (52 water) and 113 tidal water and foreshore, pop. 15,333; parl. bor., 5130 ac., pop. 124,841; mun. bor., 3306 ac., pop. 116,542; 4 Banks, 4 newspapers. Market-day, Saturday. The bor. includes Sunderland par., on the S. side of the river, next the sea; the greater part of Bishop Wearmouth par., on the same side of the river; and the greater part of Monk Wearmouth par., on the N. side of the river, which is here spanned by a famous iron bridge of one arch (108 ft. above low-water mark and 236 ft. span), erected in 1796, and restored and improved in 1858. In Monk Wearmouth (with which Sunderland was long more or less identified) is an ancient parish church, standing on the site of the monastery, of 7th century, in which the Venerable Bede spent the greater part of his life. Sunderland rose into importance as a seat of trade and commerce about the middle of the 18th century, and is now one of the chief coal-shipping ports in the kingdom. Its facilities as a port have been greatly improved of late years; a harbour has been made by two stone piers 590 and 650 yards long, extensive docks have been constructed, and a lighthouse has been erected on the N. pier-head, 64 ft. high, with 2 fixed lights 73 and 55 ft. above high water and seen 13 and 6 miles; on the S. pier-head is a fixed light 58 ft. above high water and seen 10 miles. The harbour, with the docks, is 78 ac. in extent. A large trade is done with the Baltic ports and with Holland. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) After its coal trade and shipping, the town depends chiefly upon its ship-building; it has also large marine engineering works, works for heavy iron-forging, and for the mfr. of glass, cordage, earthenware, &c. Sunderland has many handsome public buildings (including several charitable and educational institutions), excellent sanitary arrangements, and parks, museum, free library, school of art, and public baths. It was early chartered (under the name of the new borough of Monk Wearmouth) by the bishops of Durham, and was made a parl. bor. in 1832; it returns 2 members to Parliament.

Sunderland in "A Topographical Dictionary of England" edited by Samuel Lewis (1848)

SUNDERLAND (Holy Trinity), a sea-port, newlyenfranchised borough, and parish, and the head of a union, in the N. division of Easington ward and of the county of Durham, 13 miles (N. E.) from Durham, and 269 (N. by W.) from London; the parish containing 17,020 inhabitants. This town, which is situated on the south bank of the river Wear, was anciently included in the parish of Bishop-Wearmouth, of which it continued to form a part till the year 1719, when it was separated, and erected into an independent parish. Soon after the Conquest, Malcolm, King of Scotland, in one of his predatory incursions, traversing the Durham coast, met with Edgar Atheling, heir to the English crown, with his sister Margaret, afterwards Queen of Scotland, and a numerous retinue of distressed Saxons, who, fleeing from the victorious Normans, were waiting in the harbour here for a wind favourable for their escape into Scotland. About the close of the 12th century, the inhabitants of Sunderland, of which the history up to that time is identified with that of Wearmouth, received from Bishop Pudsey a charter of free customs and privileges similar to those exercised by the inhabitants of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and in this deed appears the first authentic notice of Sunderland as a distinct maritime and commercial town and port. Its present name, which it acquired under the charter, is supposed to have been derived from its peninsular situation, being almost separated from the main land by the influx of the river Wear on the north, and by Hendon Dene, a deep ravine on the south, formerly capable of floating vessels of considerable burthen. Under the privileges of its charter, the town gradually increased in extent and importance, and in the reign of Henry VIII. had become a place of considerable trade. At the commencement of the 17th century, several Scottish families and many foreign merchants established themselves in the town, which by a charter of Bishop Morton had acquired a municipal corporation. During the war in the reign of Charles I., the inhabitants embraced the cause of the parliamentarians, by whom the town was garrisoned in 1642, in consequence of the seizure of Newcastle by the royalists, and the prohibition of supplies of coal from that place. A parliamentary commissioner was sent to take up his residence here. Repeated skirmishes occurred in the vicinity between the contending parties, during 1644 and 1645, and the resident Scottish families suffered greatly from want of provisions, owing to the wreck of some vessels laden with supplies from Scotland, and the capture of others by the royalists in the river Tyne, whither they had been driven by adverse winds.

Corporation Seal.

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