The Visitor Centre

Our Visitor Centre shows a brief history of boats and shipbuilding on the River Wear, both wood and iron ships, and a woodworking tool display. On display are artefacts from the wreck of HMS Venerable (the ship on which Jack Crawford nailed the colours to the mast of during the Battle of Camperdown). There are also exhibitions covering 20th century shipbuilding, working conditions and workers lives.

The Visitor Centre was extensively re-furbished and formally re-opened in 2018 by Lynda Scanlon,  Mayor of Sunderland. 


On that occasion we also celebrated the arrival on our latest, and fairly significant artefact – The Carica Milica Bell .  More info HERE!

The bell may now be seen in the Visitor Centre, along with other display items.

We have Models – a whole room-full of detailed models by our expert model-maker, Fred Gooch, showing a number of ships and buildings from around Sunderland, all regarded as of historical importance, but not all of which are still standing.

We have Historical Artefacts, from the days of the old wooden ships, and from more recent times. Some of these may be handled, but others are rather delicate – our volunteers will guide you, and talk about them.

 We have Paintings, Photographs and Maps showing Sunderland’s history, growth and development. These include posters from our major shipbuilders, and a copy of Rain’s Eye Plan, details of which can be found HERE

We have a Display of Tools (some of which occasionally get used in the workshop and on school visits) and equipment from ships and the shipyards.
Please:  Contact us if you have any shipyard stories that we can record and add to our collection – or any stories or memories relevant to Sunderland’s Maritime past.

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