What was Sunderland life like in the 1950s? Here’s the news from a typical day in 1953

History is often remembered by its biggest moments and events, but to understand it more broadly always requires a look in at the closer and nuanced details. What was life like in the 1950s? And what was going in Sunderland at that time? Today, we dive into some basic material obtained from the national newspaper archives to discover a series of Sunderland Echo stories dated from August 7th, 1953. This will allow you to look back on the city and its people from nearly 70 years ago. Is there anyone you remember or heard of?

A Hendon Fish & Chip Shop got destroyed in a fire

In Moor Street, Hendon (now understood as the old East End) a fish and chip shop was destroyed in an overnight fire, forcing several families, the Gettings, as well as their neighbours, the Lawrences, to flee out in the middle of the night. The owner of the shop was the 51 year old Magnus Eunson, who didn’t understand what started the fire because he insisted he “turned off the gas”. Firemen thankfully were able to put the blaze out within 20 minutes and nobody was hurt.

Incident in Red House

A 15 year old boy called Richard Henry Watson, living on Rothbury Road, Red House, was knocked over by a “private car” and suffered injuries to his head and knees. Might he still be alive today?


25 year old Robert William Frederick Todd of East Street was fined 10 shillings for trespassing on a railway line.

False Alarm at Mackie’s Corner

A fire alarm went off in Mackie’s Corner, prompting panic. However, the incident was only an electric fault and was a false alarm.

Southwick woman collapses at Fawcett Street

44 year old Mrs. Jean Docherty of Oaklands Crescent, Southwick, collapsed in Fawcett Street and was taken to “Sunderland Royal Infirmary”. Luckily she was well enough to later go home.

Collieries exceed targets

Monkwearmouth and Hylton Collieries exceeded their output targets, with Wearmouth mining 12,895 tons (895 above target) and Hylton achieving 8674 tons (574 above target)

15,000 people didn’t pick up their ration books on time

15,000 Sunderland residents didn’t pick up their ration books before distribution centres closed on Saturday, resulting in mass ques at the food office and staff working overtime. The office complained that people were not registering with their retailers quickly enough.