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The City of Sunderland has a population of just under 300,000 and is the largest city between Edinburgh and Leeds . Sunderland is situated on the north east coast of England, with access to some of the most beautiful countryside in England. Its name is probably derived from the Sunder – land (the land divided by the river) which was granted to Benedict Biscop in AD 686.
The Port of Sunderland (now operated by the City Council) has a heritage going back over 800 years, with the earliest evidence of maritime commerce being a charter granted in 1154. Industry continued to grow along the river, with docks being present since at least 1382.
Glassmaking had also become established, with Flemings brought over by the Church to beautify the monastery, beginning an industry for which Sunderland is justly renowned.
In the mid 17th Century, following the English Civil War, the proximity of Sunderland to the Durham coalfield, stimulated the development of its export trade. An increase in port facilities was needed and more ships needed to be built. This in turn led to the growth of associated trades, and commerce grew. By 1840 there were 65 shipyards on the river and Sunderland took its place as the biggest shipbuilding port in the world.
As communities grew along both banks of the river, it was a logical progression to bring them together to form the Parliamentary Borough of Sunderland in 1835.
In 1988 Sunderland witnessed the closure of its last shipyard. At the same time, the recent location of Nissan in Sunderland was to act as a catalyst for new jobs in the automotive sector, both at the Nissan plant itself and with the firms which supply it.
The City Council began to look at other sectors to help diversify the local economy and the development of the Doxford International Business Park acted as a catalyst to develop service sector employment, where the new technologies were increasingly employed. The closure of the City’s last coalmine, Wearmouth Colliery, in 1994 brought to an end the traditional industries on which Sunderland had so long relied.
In 1992, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 40th year of reign, and in recognition of the way in which Sunderland had dealt with the blows of its industrial decline, and its efforts to reconstruct itself for the future, she graciously accorded Sunderland the status of ‘City’.
Now Sunderland is aligning itself as a 21st century city, exploiting all the advantages that technology can offer to enhance all aspects of its social, economic and environmental well-being.
Sunderland City Council website