Sunderland Guide: Gilley Law

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Between North Moor and Silksworth Lane

Gilley Law, or officially known as “Lakeside Village” is a suburb in Southwest Sunderland that is known for its tower blocks. Situated between Farringdon and Silksworth, the community was constructed in the 1960s as part of the country’s post-war social housing regeneration. While many privately owned homes have sprung up in the suburb, the towers have a large population of elderly and retired people.

History

Gilley Law is built on top of the stream known as the “Hendon Burn” which commencing in Tunstall, forges its way through the city’s southern half, through Silksworth Park, the Barnes and Backhouse Pack before disappearing underneath Hendon Valley Road, where it once met the sea. The name “Gilley Law” itself is ancient, with “Gilley” being old Norse for “Ghyll” referring to a valley, while “Law” connotates a hill.

This means the name really refers to a “Hill Valley” with the Hendon Burn stream having carved out such a valley in the Farringdon Country Park area which is adjacent to it. In the modern era, the area was part of the greater Silksworth estate and was frequented by hunters by for sport. It also possessed a quarry and a plantation.

In the 1960s, the land was redeveloped into a series of tower blocks which were used to accommodate the poorest people of Sunderland being rehoused from older areas being demolished, including Millfield and the East End. The Gilley Law estate had a unique communal heating system supplied by a nearby (now demolished) power station, which replicated a Communist model used in the Soviet Union.

In the following decades, Gilley Law became a more pleasant destination and private housing was developed on it. The towers were redeveloped and given a new appearance around 2000, moving away from their red brick design. Nowadays, the estate is an ideal location owing to its proximity to Silksworth Park and its lakes, giving it a visual appeal. From the top of the towers, it is possible to see a broad panoramic view of the wider area and region.

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