Sunderland stands at the mouth of the River Wear and in medieval times was known as Wearmouth.
In AD674 the nobleman Benedict Biscop founded a monastery at Wearmouth (which became known as Monkwearmouth) and the Venerable Bede (AD673 - 735) studied there.
Sunderland developed as a shipbuilding centre in the mid-14th century and by the 19th century was the greatest shipbuilding town in Britain. However, production waned after World War II and the last shipyard closed in 1988.
Sunderland became an important port in the early-18th century and in 1850 it was expanded by the opening of the Hudson Dock. Coal from the Wear valley was loaded onto ships here to be transported by sea. Because the town developed on plateaux high above the river, it's bridges spanned the Wear Gorge and did not impead the flow of river traffic.
The Wearmouth Bridge, built in 1796, was the second iron bridge to be constructed in England. The elegant span was double the length of Abramam Darby's famous Ironbridge.
In the 17th century glassmaking became an important industry in Sunderland and today this is celebrated at the new National Glass Centre on the River Wear.
Coal mining, another lucrative industry, boomed during the 19th century, but Sunderland's last pit closed in 1993.
Sunderland's economy suffered considerably with the lost of its industry, particularly in the 1980's when there was mass unemployment. However, the city has since undergone regeneration, with its riverside sites transformed and new business sectors emerging. Car making, electronics, chemicals and paper manufacture are important, as are service industries.
In 1992 Sunderland was given city status by the Queen. The city is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination.
The site of the last coal mine is now the home of the Stadium of Light, the home ground of Sunderland AFC, the stadium is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Prior to the English Civil War in 1642, Charles I gave Newcastle the rights to East of England coal trade. The bitter resentment this caused between Sunderland and Newcastle lead to a lasting rivalry between Sunderland AFC and neighbouring Newcastle United.
Fun Shack 4.0 miles A great place for the children to have fun.
St Mary the Virgin Church 4.2 miles A lovely late-Saxon church to see.
National Glass Centre Find out how glass is made and watch the demonstrations.
Washington Old Hall 5.6 miles Take a look around the house and gardens associated with the American President George Washington.
Bede's World 6.6 miles A museum that will tell you about monks and life in Anglo-Saxon times.
Towns Near Sunderland To Visit - straight line distance:Seaham (4.84 miles) Washington (5.67 miles) South Shields (6.83 miles) Jarrow (6.87 miles)