Lifestyle editor Katy Wheeler looks back on 2021.
With the land deeply barricaded, it became more important than ever to shop locally and support urban businesses, many of which became a lifeline during troubled times, whether it be to keep us well fed and watered with supplies or a friendly face Being in social interaction was limited.
Meanwhile, beer deliveries were booming, with breweries like Darwin Brewery and pubs like The Saltgrass offering some much-needed lockdown goodies.
Frank Styles’ distinctive murals have become a familiar and popular sight on the streets of Sunderland. In March, he captured the mood of the nation when he unveiled a rainbow artwork in honor of Captain Tom, who died the previous month after raising more than £ 30 million for the NHS.
It can be seen on the side of a house overlooking the garden of Gospel Church in Pallion and is clearly visible from Pallion Road just before the traffic lights.
While the pandemic had wreaked a lot of havoc, there were also some positives, including a surge of new companies that emerged from the lockdown. One of them was Midnight Pizza Crü and their Detroit-style pizzas, which sold out in seconds after opening assembly points at Ship Isis. It now has a permanent home with Pop Recs.
After a seemingly endless lockdown, the pubs were finally able to open their beer gardens on April 12th, after having been closed in the northeast since November 5th, 2020 due to the tiered system. There was a lot of demand as people flocked to outdoor areas like Stack, The Saltgrass, Poetic License, The Palm, The Stackyard, Victoria Gardens and more again.
As of May 17, people could finally enjoy a seated meal as restrictions continued to be lifted. Hungry Wearsiders were able to revisit the city’s favorites while dining at new additions like Spent Grain on John Street and Proven People, which opened on Burdon Road in the summer following the renovation of the old railroad manager, all of which brought much-needed variety in the city’s food scene.
May 17th was also an important date for the city’s cultural attractions, such as the Museum and Winter Gardens, National Glass Center, and Arts Center Washington, all of which were finally able to reopen their doors to the public.
A number of other new businesses will be added as part of the renewal program in 2022, including a Tin of Sardines gin bar in Roker and a seafood restaurant on Seaburn Promenade.
In June, the Vaux Taproom opened in Roker Retail Park, serving some of the freshest pints like Alter Ego, Black Wave and Monk Street Brown, as well as six guest beers straight from the cold store. Look out for more of the team in 2022 with plans to expand all the way to the Roker coast.
The work of art consists of 40,000 unique clay figures that represent a mass wave of humanity. The artwork was seen by thousands at the free exhibition, which ran for nine weeks.
In the summer, a wave of new companies opened their doors in the city center. Among them was Victoria’s Loft, which joined the sister establishment Street Bar, which transformed the old Revolution bar that was closed due to the pandemic.
In September, world star Ed Sheeran also announced that he would perform at the Stadium of Light in June 2022, when the concerts return to the home of the Black Cats.
With life seemed to be returning to normal, the city was able to host its annual Lights-Out Halloween Parade. At the free event, 400 artists from community groups meandered to thousands of spectators through the city center while they offered a catchy spectacle.
In October, the former Pallion Workingmens’ Club was also breathed new life into when the ground floor of the striking red brick building reopened as Pickled Radish. The new bar with a selection of food and drinks was brought into town by the same team behind the excellent Spent Grain in the city center.
It’s been a long and challenging journey for the team due to the pandemic and the death of director Dave Harper. It now houses a coffee shop, event space, and training facilities to nurture future talent.
In November, The Point and Live Lounge also joined other major Sunderland venues and arts groups, which received a further boost in funding through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which helped reopen the venues after major losses from the pandemic.
The first guitar hit at the new state-of-the-art venue was The Lake Poets, with its hauntingly beautiful Shipyards track, a lawsuit over Sunderland’s lost industry made possible thanks to the Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til. heard around the world I’m dying.