Memories of Sunderland: The Rink, Food Giant and Kwik Save

On the site what is now Sunderland Colleague Skills Campus, directly opposite Park Lane, once stood a gigantic building. Once known as The Rink, the facility was known to many as a giant concert and dance hall which once hosted some of the biggest names in music, including The Beatles and Status Quo.

But at some point The Rink closed down and the building was converted as a supermarket. First known as “Food Giant” the chain was known for its affordable goods. The supermarket could be reached by a footbridge at the east side of Holmeside opposite Waterloo Place, which took you through its massive carpark, perched on a height above the passing railway.

By the 1990s, Food Giant went out of business after succumbing to what was described as “a mountain of debt” and the building became home to another supermarket chain known as “Kwik Save“. However, Kwik Save supermarkets struggled against their competitors, ASDA and Tesco, and the parent company Somerfield made the decision to close many of their stores and downsize their brand. This ultimately led to the demise of the Sunderland branch in 2003.

Wilderness years

The abandoned Car Park in 2012 (Photo: 28 Days Later)

For 12 years, the former Rink/Supermarket building on Park Lane stood empty. It became a symbol of decay and criminality, especially its former carpark. Despite the footbridge being boarded up, yobs and other unscrupulous types managed to get around it and conducted nefarious activities in the abandoned carpark.

However, in 2015, a deal was reached to relocate the former Hylton Skills Campus of Sunderland College to the former supermarket site in Park Lane, which would see the former carpark and old building demolished. This spelt the “end of era” for many, especially those who had memories of it. However, it ultimately contributed to the regeneration of the Park Lane area.

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