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The East End Remembered Project 2016- Memories of the Garths

sunderland garthsThe East End of Sunderland houses some fantastic hidden history; some of which we hope to uncover as part of The Canny Space Project.  During the summer of 2015 we worked in partnership with Sunderland Library Services, local organisation’s and local people who kindly shared some of their memories with us about living in the Garths and the East End of Sunderland from 1940 to 1995.

The images you will see were shared with the project from many sources; including residents, local organisations, local studies, social media and individual collections.

'The Garths' is the generic name given to large public housing projects built in the late 1930's in the East End of Sunderland, close to the harbour area just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Each building had its own name and unique culture with a strong sense of 'place' and community.

Working with local people, organisations and community groups we have recorded the memories of some of the first residents and across the decades to some of the very last to live in the Garths. Mostly (but not all) demolished and gone, this page offers an insight into these buildings, their features and the amazing stories of those who lived there.


"..The Garths, a Modernist mass housing project which accommodated around 1,000 people in blocks of flats with access balconie. With a quadrangular form and brick construction, the Garths were reminiscent of worker housing blocks designed by Modernist architect J.J.P. Oud in Holland...”

(Architectural historian Dr Michael Johnson)


Remembering the East End, the film



Talking Heads Videos

At various times and locations across the summer of 2015 we were offered the privilege of recording the stories from those who lived in one of the many Garths. These short clips can be viewed below. A link is also offered to view each video fullscreen. From the war torn years of the 40's to the pulling down of most of the Garths in the 90's their stories span the decades living in these amazing public housing schemes.


Walkabout - (view fullscreen here)
Geoff took us on a tour of the local area pointing out many landmarks along the way – can you recognise any of the places we visited?


Tony - (view fullscreen here)
Tony popped in to visit Holy Trinity one day and ended up being part of the film. He has a direct link with the church and shared funny stories of his time as an altar boy.


Athur and Jean - (view fullscreen here)
We met Arthur and Jane in the library and they shared some early memories of childhood, school days and East End Characters.


Arthur - View fullscreen here
A Garth resident of many years Arthur shared with us some of the oldest of recorded memories.


C.H.A.N.C.E - (view fullscreen here)
The Project was a partnership between The Canny Space and Library services and was supported by Sunderland City Council's Community IT service but the main contributors are members of the community who lives, worked, loved, fought, played and laughed in the East End, in a place many of them still call home. The local people who participated in our session at CHANCE really enjoyed looking at old photos of the East End and Garths..


Drone flight - (view fullscreen here)
A flight over Holy Trinity church

Pat Matthison - (view fullscreen here)
At aged 86 years young Pat is our most senior contributor. She shared tales of wartime and working and her comments were key to inspiring the original song ‘ Do you Remember’ written and composed by young musicians Shannon and John from YUMA.


The Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran - (view fullscreen here)
It’s a little known fact but the Mayor is originally from the Garths. We spent the afternoon talking to him about his fondest memories.


Julie Malvern - (view fullscreen here)
Julie shared her memories of growing up in the Garths – in her words she is a real ‘Garths bairn’ and talked until our tape ran out! Her stories demonstrated just how resourceful she was as a 3 year old with tales of mud pies, Yorkshire puddings and hiding her pants!


Geoff Moon- (view fullscreen here)
Built in 1826 The Welcome Tavern remains at the heart of the East End, and continues to be a focal point for the community. Local publican Geoff Moon shares some of his earliest memories.


Martin Brannen - (view fullscreen here)
Martin kept us laughing for over an hour as he shared fond memories of bonfire night and other highlights of growing up in the garths as young boy including tales of his evacuation during the war


Local band YUMA have produced two original songs
The song 'East End Girls' sang in the Welcome Tavern

Images taken during this project

Images of those involved and who gave their time freely to share with us thoughts and feelings about living in The Garth's.




Old images of the Garths and the East End of Sunderland

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External links to other sites related to the Garths in Sunderland

Sunderland Echo - East End born and bred (Facebook group) - 1997 article about the Garths coming down - Wear Garth from above - Old images on Flickr - Sunderland Antiquarian Society (street naming) - Article on Sunderland between the wars -