Mowbray Park
Statue Sunderland Tyne And Wear

Mowbray Park, Sunderland

Statue In Sunderland, Tyne And Wear

A Victorian park with many fine features, sculptures, and modern-day art installations including reference to Lewis Carroll.

We have tended to visit Mowbray Park in the cooler months as we use a nice walk through the park to visit the nearby museum and arboretum (Winter Garden).

The gates in the southeastern corner indicate that Mowbray Park was first opened in 1857. This was following the Cholera epidemic in the 1840s. A Public Health Enquiry recommended a park so that the residents of Sunderland could get fresh air and exercise. The £750 cost of the land was borne by Parliament.

The owners of the land were the Mowbrays and this is where the name is attributed. They were a notable family involved in Maritime, flax trading, and building alms-houses.

John Candlish (1816 to 1874) opened the park in 1857 and has his own statue in bronze and plinth granite, created by Charles Bacon in 1875. He was a successful businessman owning glass bottle-making factories and was the mayor in 1857 then a member of Parliament in 1866.

He also founded the free lending library which is now part of the Sunderland Museum building.

An ornate cast iron bridge over the railway cutting was added in 1866 and the area was known as Extension Park. A lake and a terrace were added at this time too.

By the early 20th Century the whole area was known as Mowbray Park. It looks like the bridge has been fairly well restored and maintained.

In 1879 an arboretum was added and called The Winter Gardens. The museum and art gallery were also added at this time.

The War Memorial was originally to commemorate soldiers from the First World War. A bronzed Winged Victory/Goddess Nike stands on a globe and granite column. She holds the victory laurels in her right hand and has in her left hand a burning brand held downwards representing resurrection from the ashes of war.

Around the pedestal are inverted firebrands and laurel wreaths which are symbolic of an eternal memorial to the fallen.

It was designed by Richard Archibald Ray (1884 to 1968) A.R.C.A and headmaster of the School of Arts, Sunderland. The column and plinth are made from Cornish grey granite. The Goddess is cast in bronze and is 12 foot 4 inches from tip to toe. Unveiled in 1922, it later represented the Second World War and now it represents most wars with plaques around the war memorial and the service divisions on the paving.

In the Second World War, Germans bombed the park, and the iron railings, bandstand and structures were removed to make weapons for the war. The park was also given over to vegetable plots for the war effort. The Winter Gardens which was a large glass and iron construction based on Crystal Palace was heavily bombed in 1941 and not replaced. After the war, the park was neglected and vandalised.

Part of the park was where the Civic Centre was built in the 1960's and the current Winter Gardens is a contemporary glass rotunda completed in 2001.

The Walrus is a reference to Lewis Caroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson 1832 to 1898) and his poem from Alice Through the Looking Glass The Walrus and the Carpenter (1871).

He spent time in the area visiting his sister.

A sculpture of the carpenter was going to accompany the walrus but there were not enough funds. Maybe oysters (featured in the poem) would have been cheaper? Professor Andrew Burton of Durham Cow fame was commissioned by Sunderland City Council and made this walrus life-size cast in bronze circa 1999/2000.

There is a stuffed head of a walrus in the Time Machine part of the museum.

Further Lewis Carroll references can be found in the park including a chessboard.

The attractive cast iron drinking fountain dates to 1878. It is as a tribute to William Hall (1801 to 1876) who at the time was the oldest Oddfellow in the North of England. The Oddfellow Organisation sought to help those who had fallen on hard times. The four columns have a motto or inscription above.

To the north: 'Keep the pavement dry'.

To the south: 'Nil Desperandum auspice deo' which a possible translation is 'Do not despair, have faith in God' This is the Sunderland motto.

To the east: 'Amicitia amor et veritas' which translates to Friendship, Love and Truth. This is the motto of the Oddfellows.

To The west: In memory of Wm. Hall of the Sunderland District Independent Order of Oddfellows'

In 2000 the fountain was refurbished.

There is a marble statue of a mother holding her dead child as a memorial to the Victoria Hall Disaster of 1883 where 183 children died due to crushing or suffocation. They had been to an entertainment show and were going to collect a toy, as they descended a staircase there was a half-bolted door and this caused a crush.

Victoria Hall used to overlook the park. A disaster fund raised enough money for the memorial. It has a glass casing and copper dome.

The memorial was moved to Bishopwearmouth Cemetery due to vandalism and then brought back to Mowbray Park in 2002.

Near the North East entrance there is a bronze set of ship propellers. Presented to Sunderland by its twin city/town St Nazaire in 2003.

Sunderland and St Nazaire were twinned in 1953. They were similar in population, geographic location (cities by the sea) and shipbuilding history.

There are many other sculptures and installations, so enjoy finding ones that interest and please you.

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How To Find Mowbray Park

Where Is Mowbray Park?

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54.902396, -1.379851

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54.90156, 54.90156

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We have used on-street parking down Egerton Street.

Contributed by Rosalind Parker

Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.

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Mowbray Park was listed in Statue // Tyne And Wear // Sunderland