A royal seal of approval for Sunderland
Written by Scott McGerty on 21st February 2018
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have given their royal seal of approval to Sunderland’s new landmark Northern Spire bridge and the City’s brand new centre for Culture.
Their Royal Highnesses William and Kate started off their royal trip to Sunderland by officially opening the city’s new cultural quarter.
Hundreds greeted the royal couple as they arrived at the new Fire Station on High Street West which has been transformed into a new cultural hub for the city’s artist and musicians.
William and Kate were shown around the new development and met with the pupils from Hudson Road Primary School at a writing workshop.
The royal couple also met with some of the city’s of culture and community groups including the team behind Sunderland’s City of Culture Bid aswell as Young Asian Voices, Cuckoo Writers, Bunker UK and Pop Recs.
After meeting members of the public, William and Kate, who are expecting their third child in April, travelled to Sunderland’s new bridge – Northern Spire.
They visited the construction site in Pallion and chatted to those involved in the construction as they were driven across the new landmark bridge.
Northern Spire is the first bridge to be built across the River Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is on track to open this spring after three years of construction.
The royal couple even helped to put one of the finishing touches to the railings of the bridge by using a wrench to tighten one of the bolts fixing the handrail in place.
Pupils from four local primary schools also got the chance to chat with the royals as Her Royal Highness was also presented with a posy of flowers by 10-year-old Ella McKenna from Highfield Primary School.
While the couple received three teddy bears for Prince George, Princess Charlotte and the new baby by 11-year-old Olivia Campbell from Castletown Primary School, 10-year-old Tommy Lancaster from Diamond Hall Junior Academy and 11-year-old Emily Ross from Northern Saints Primary School.
Prince William was also shown an album of photos of his great grandfather, the then Duke of York, when he visited Sunderland in 1929 to open Wearmouth Bridge.
Speaking after the visit, the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Doris MacKnight, said: “It was wonderful to meet the Duke and Duchess and she looked absolutely radiant.”
”The Duke takes a keen interest in engineering and they both seemed really interested in the bridge and the story behind it.”
“They also spent quite a bit of time talking to some of the people who have been instrumental in its design and construction over the last three years.”
The road surfacing, paving, lights and railings for the new Northern Spire are underway, weather permitting ahead of the bridge opening in a few months time.
Meanwhile, the new cultural hub, which became derelict after the fire station closed in the 1990’s, now houses a restaurant, a dance studio, music, performance and educational areas.