Photo: Angels Place, 2020, photo by SGM
The East of Sunderland is the cradle of the city we know today. Starting out as a small fishing village on Southeastern bank of the river wear, the 18th and 19th centuries seen the town of Sunderland explode in size and rapidly expand westwards, absorbing everything in its way. Yet in the process of that transformation, the place which defined most of its early history has been left behind. Nowadays, the East End is a quiet place, a reflection of times gone by as the city centre consolidated in its present location.
If you head up the street known as Church Street, which leads to the Holy Trinity Church (1719) you will notice on the left hand side an old three storey building with the mural marked “Angels” on it. This building is of course widely known as “Angels Place” and is the meeting point and chapter house of the Hells Angels Motorcycle club. Their bikes are often parked outside (as you can spot on the photo). Adjacent to it is a Chinese Takeaway, known as “Eastern Dragon”.
Yet there is more to meets the eye with this building, as the blue plaque at the front centre of it might suggest. While a great deal of the East End has been pulled down with regeneration schemes over the decades, this structure stands as one of Sunderland’s oldest buildings, specifically a Merchants House which was built in the year 1711. As described by Historic England: “As Old Sunderland developed in the early-18th century, the area quickly became overcrowded and the town’s merchants and coal fitters started building their residences towards the Town Moor.”
The website elaborates further: “As Old Sunderland developed in the early-18th century, the area quickly became overcrowded and the town’s merchants and coal fitters started building their residences towards the Town Moor.” The building became listed in 1954, which was good news as it ultimately survived the rout of post-war demolition and reconstruction in the area which many of its other buildings succumbed to.