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History & Heritage

Hylton castle use 1

Sunderland is a city of the future, but we are proud to celebrate our hard-working history. 

Sunderland's history and heritage has shaped our entire city and our region, so we love to showcase what makes it unique and famous. Explore sights and landmarks that provide a glimpse into our industrial past; from shipbuilding and mining to castles, monuments and more. 

Why not learn about Sunderland's connection to North East icon George Stephenson, and our role in innovating the modern railway at Hetton Colliery Railway? Here you can also discover more about Sunderland's mining heritage. Or, uncover Sunderland's natural beauty at Roker Beach - home to Roker Pier and Lighthouse, which has been hailed as a 'triumph of engineering'.

Step further back in time at Hylton Castle. Built by Sir William Hylton before 1400, it's the second oldest building in Sunderland! A trip to Sunderland is also not complete without a visit to the stunning Penshaw Monument; built in 1844 as a replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, it's the perfect Instagram opportunity. 

Whether you're looking for a great family day out, planning a school trip or simply want to learn more about our region's rich past, there are many historic sightseeing opportunities in Sunderland. Be sure to pair your visit with a trip to our museums and galleries

Uncover the roots that make us proud.


Bowes railway - History & Heritage

Originally a colliery railway built to carry coal mainly from pits in north west Durham to the Tyne at Jarrow. The earliest section, designed by George Stephenson was opened in January 1826, making it one of the world's first modern railways. Bowes Railway is believed to be the only operational preserved gauge rope-hauled railway in the world.

Fulwell Mill - History & Heritage

Fulwell Windmill started to appear on the Sunderland skyline in 1806 and became the familiar landmark we know today when opened in 1808.

Hetton Colliery Railway - History & Heritage

In the early 19th century, coal, steam and machines transformed Britain. It was an age of technological innovation, hard graft and pushing the boundaries - epitomised by the birth of the railways.

Hylton Castle

Hylton Castle is a historic landmark near Sunderland that was built by Sir William Hylton, shortly before 1400. This distinctive and highly decorative gatehouse-tower style castle makes for an exciting sightseeing trip, as you uncover the history and heritage of the North East.

Keel Square - History & Heritage

Keel Square at the heart of Sunderland city centre plays host to many events and is a place full of Sunderland's heritage.

North East Land Sea and Air Museum - History & Heritage

The North East Aircraft Museum has a diverse collection of aircraft; from passnger aircraft to training planes and a mighty Vulcan.

Penshaw Monument

Get some fresh air and take in stunning views from this 70-foot high monument, at the top of Penshaw Hill.

Roker Pier and Lighthouse

Sunderland's landmark Roker Pier and lighthouse are Grade II listed and when opened in 1903 the structure was hailed as a true 'triumph of engineering' no mean feat in an era which saw the construction of Brunel's Clifton Suspension Bridge and Paxton's Crystal Palace.

Ryhope Engines museum - History & Heritage

The Ryhope Engines Museum is based on the Ryhope Pumping Station which was built in 1868 to supply water to the Sunderland area. The station ceased operation in 1967 - after 100 years of continuous use.

St Andrew's Church, Roker

The inside of this church has many treasures including William Morris carpets, Ernest Grimson furniture and the painted ceiling in the sanctuary depicting the creation of the sun and stars which is painted in 'egg-tempera'

St Michael and All Angels Church, Houghton-Le-Spring

Meet the dragons, discover why there were riots in the graveyard, and discover who Black Douglas was.

St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth

The Anglo-Saxon church of St Peter's was built in 674AD by local nobleman Benedict Biscop.