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Roker Park
Roker Park
  About your Area
Roker (Tyne and Wear)

Roker shown within Tyne and Wear
Population 4,600
OS grid reference NZ405595
Metropolitan borough City of Sunderland
Metropolitan county Tyne and Wear
Region North East
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SR6
Dialling code 0191
Police Northumbria
Fire Tyne and Wear
Ambulance North East
European Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Sunderland North
List of places: UKEnglandTyne and Wear

Coordinates: 54°55'23?N 1°21'58?W? / ?54.923, -1.366

Roker (pronounced /'r?k?/ locally, or /'ro?k?/) is a tourist resort in North East England, bounded on the south by the River Wear and Monkwearmouth, on the east by the North Sea, and on the north and west by the town of Seaburn, of which parts of Roker are a suburb (The area north of the 'Derby Field' is Seaburn, while the area south is simply Sunderland). It is administered as part of the City of Sunderland.

Roker was known worldwide for being home to Roker Park, home of Sunderland A.F.C. for ninety-nine years until 1997. The resort consists of a tiny village (the 'real' Roker according to the residents) of just twelve streets (Roker Terrace, Harbour View, Roker Park Terrace, Ravine Terrace, St. George's Terrace, Park Parade, Featherstone Street, Bede Street, Benedict Road, St. Andrew's Terrace, Pier View and Marine Walk) surrounded by five housing estates ('outer Roker').

The majority of the houses in Roker are terraced. Further west, to the part bordering the village of Fulwell, are cul-de-sacs with semi-detached bungalows, mainly owned by members of Roker's large elderly community.

On the site of Sunderland AFC's former stadium is a small housing estate known by some locals as Roker Park Village, its street names all being references to the football club (Midfield Drive, Promotion Close, etc.). The streets in between Roker Baths Road and Roker Avenue are all named after members of William Gladstone's cabinet (Gladstone, Hartington, Forster, Bright, Stansfield, and so on). On Roker Terrace (Roker's main street) are exclusive apartments and hotels which overlook the seafront.


[edit] History

The story of Roker begins in 1587, when the Abbs family were granted land on the north side of the River Wear on the condition that they provided six soldiers to defend the mouth of the river. Fast forward to 1840, when Roker Terrace was built upon the cliff tops, along with Monkwearmouth baths and Roker Park soon after. The pier and lower promenade were built six years later. In the early 20th century it became a hugely popular resort for locals and tourists alike, and in 1928 it was taken over by the Borough of Sunderland, along with Fulwell and Seaburn.

[edit] Places to visit

Roker Park, not to be confused with the former football ground, is a landscaped Victorian park in Roker which opened in 1880. It has a miniature railway, a Victorian bandstand, a boating lake, bowling greens, tennis courts, and a bridged ravine leading to the promenade and beach.

A poster for Roker and Seaburn beach in 1955.
A poster for Roker and Seaburn beach in 1955.

Roker Beach is a sandy beach on Roker's North Sea coastline that co-hosts the Sunderland International Airshow (the largest such event in Europe) with the twin resort of Seaburn. The beach is also home to Sunderland Yacht Club, which borders the Marina, a fairly recently-built estate on the mouth of the River Wear, with an array of high-priced houses and apartments and a small harbour (Sunderland's main harbour is located on the south side of the Wear, in the city itself). The Marina also hosts a wide range of watersport activities. The Marina area is also the eastern end of the C2C cycling route

The Roker Walk is a popular walk through the resort, starting from Roker's pier and lighthouse, towards the marina past the Lifeboat Museum, then along Roker Terrace past the Roker Hotel, past the old Chapel of St Aidan (which has now been converted into a family house), into the private streets of Roker Park Terrace and Ravine Terrace, then along the Coast Road to the statue of Bede's cross on the cliff top, through Roker Park past St. Andrew's Church, past the terraced mansions of Roker Park Road, then past the Methodist Church by Roker Park Village, through Park Parade, back into the park and past the Bandstand, down Roker Ravine and onto the lower promenade, where the walk finishes back at the pier.

St. Andrew’s Roker is now recognised as one of the best churches of the early 20th century Arts and Crafts Movement. Designed by Edward Schroeder Prior and finished in 1907 it was largely funded by a local shipbuilder John Priestman. It is an early example of a reinforced concrete building but is clad in dressed stone. The church contains a rage of very fine fittings by renowned artists and craftsmen such as Ernest Gimson and Eric Gill and Morris and Co with an outstanding ainted dome over that chancel to Prior’s sketch scheme, depicting the days of the Creation, by Macdonald Gill.

[edit] Information

Roker is renowned for having an abundance of pubs considering the relatively small residential population of the area, with The Harbour View, The Smugglers, The New Derby, The Cliff, The Queen Vic, and a few others all within walking distance from anywhere in the area. The Smugglers, located on the promenade at Roker Beach, was voted the number-one music venue in the whole of the City of Sunderland; they have live music most days of the week.

While the neighbouring resort of Seaburn is home to the Marriott Hotel, the largest hotel in the city, Roker is inclined more towards homely-style bed and breakfasts, with over a third of Sunderland's visitor accommodation establishments located in the resort, most of which are located on just four particular streets (Harbour View, Benedict Road, St George's Terrace, and Roker Terrace).

There are occasional complaints by residents and tourists about how little public transport serves the area. At present there are only three buses that run through the district, two of which simply go along the sea front on the border of the area and not actually into the centre where most of the residents live. The nearest metro stations are Seaburn (located in Fulwell) and St Peter's (located in Monkwearmouth), both over a mile away. This is exacerbated by the fact that Roker has a large elderly community (larger than most areas of the borough), who rely heavily on public transport to get to Sunderland to do their shopping.

The resort, while not officially a village, it is treated like one, and many residents feel a sense of independence from the city of Sunderland. There are a number of amenities and services in Roker typical of a village, with most of the shops privately owned by families. The resort has two post offices, one for the 'village' and harbour area and one for the area further inland at Mere Knolls Road, which also serves the people in the south of the neighbouring village of Fulwell. There are three newsagents, a tanning salon, a laundrette, a cobbler's, a chemist's, a veterinary surgery, a delicatessen, a barber's, a pie shop, two churches, and an amusement arcade (on the seafront).

The author James Herriot was born in Roker.

[edit] Landmarks

Roker Pier
Roker Pier

One well-known landmark of sorts in Roker is the Bungalow Cafe, which is an old-fashioned cafe in a tiny bungalow on the upper promenade. Also famous is the signpost next to the cafe, marked: "To Beach" (pointing towards the beach), "To Village" (pointing into Roker), "To Bungalow" (pointing to the cafe), and "To Germany" (pointing out to sea).

Another landmark is the statue of Bede's cross on the cliff top near Roker Park. The cross recognises the work of the Venerable Bede, who worked in the North-East all his life at the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow. There is currently a bid for the twin monasteries to gain World Heritage Site status.

[edit] Demographics

The population of Roker is approximately 4,600. It forms part of the St Peter's electoral ward (along with Monkwearmouth), and the Sunderland North parliamentary constituency. Currently the St Peter's electoral ward has three sitting Conservative Councillors. The Conservatives took two seats in 2004 and took the third seat in 2006 when local nurse Shirley Leadbitter defeated Labour cabinet member Cllr Christine Shattock.

[edit] Hotels

Roker contains over a third of Sunderland's visitor accommodation, with a great number of guest houses and hotels located in the district. All of these guest houses get a decent number of visitors all year round, despite the bitter winds that hit the north east coast in the winter, and also despite Roker's decline in popularity as a holiday destination (along with its twin resort of Seaburn).

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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