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Tyne and Wear (England)

Ceremonial English County

Last modified: 2020-09-12 by rob raeside
Keywords: tyne and wear | sunderland |
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[, England] image by Pete Loeser, 5 September 2020
Former Tyne and Wear County Council Flag

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Introduction: The County of Tyne and Wear

Tyne and Wear is a "ceremonial" or "geographic" county in the Northeast of England, bordering the North Sea. It is located around the mouths of the Tyne and Wear rivers bordering Northumberland to the north and County Durham in the south. It came into being in 1974 with the passage of the Local Government Act of 1972. The five metropolitan boroughs of Sunderland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and Gateshead make up the county. The county council was abolished in 1986, and its functions given either to the individual boroughs or shared by new joint committees of the five boroughs. For example the schools are now administrated separately in each borough and the fire deprtments are run by a committee made up of members from each borough.
However, the blue flag commonly used by the residents is the old former Tyne and Wear Council flag. It has no official status, but is widely used commercially. The Royal Commission that recommended changing the county councils could not even find a name for the area that the people could agree upon.
Pete Loeser, 5 September 2020

A Brief History of Sunderland

The Borough of Sunderland, is 12 miles northeast of Durham and 10 miles southeast of Newcastle upon Tyne, at the mouth of the River Wear. Originally there were three medieval settlements by the mouth of the River Wear on the site of modern-day Sunderland. On the north side of the river, Monkwearmouth was settled in 674 as a monastery and in 685, the land adjacent to the monastery on the south side of the river was settled as a secular community referred to as the "sunder-land", and would grow as a fishing settlement in the following years. West of the medieval village of Sunderland on the south bank, Bishopwearmouth was founded in 930.
Sunderland grew as a port, first trading coal and salt, and later by the 19th Century had became one of the leading shipbuilding ports in England for wooden trading vessels. By this time the port of Sunderland had absorbed Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth. From 1846 to 1854 almost a third of Britain's ships were built in Sunderland. In the 20th century, the area metamorphosed into a commercial center for the automotive industry, science and technology and the service sector.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the county borough was abolished and its area combined with that of other districts to form the Metropolitan Borough of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear. In 1986, the Tyne and Wear County Council was abolished, and Sunderland, once again independent from county council control, was granted city status in 1992 to celebrate the Queen's 40th year on the throne.
Pete Loeser, 5 September 2020

I have been in touch with both local and county record offices and they know of no flag associated with Sunderland. One possible reason, is that unlike Durham and Newcastle which were centers of Norman power, the area which is now known as Sunderland had been an established English settlement since the 7th century. However, a number of coats of arms have been granted since the 12th century.
Michael Brown, 25 April 2003

Borough of Sunderland Coat of Arms 1947

[Sunderland Coat of Arms, England] image from Pete Loeser, 5 September 2020

The Sunderland coat of arms was originally the official heraldic arms of the Tyne and Wear County Council, but seems now to be used by the Borough of Sunderland. The grant of arms was made in 1947, and not amended in 1967 when additional territory was incorporated into the County Borough of Sunderland.
Pete Loeser, 5 September 2020