Read Regional: Sunderland

The tour begins!

Last Thursday I had my first Read Regional event, at Sunderland City Library. I haven’t been to the city since I was a student – and my memories of a night out there are a bit hazy. I knew about Sunderland’s ship building history though (my Grandad worked at Smith’s Dock in nearby Teesside and it’s something I’ve been looking into for a future novel) and also that there was an LS Lowry connection to the city. I found this gorgeous Lowry picture of ‘River Wear at Sunderland’ during my pre-visit research.

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The weather was atrocious as I left Hebden Bridge – high winds and driving rain – and didn’t improve as my train sped north eastwards. All was well however as Sunderland City Library turned out to be not only warm and dry but positively exotic.

Sunderland winter gardens

The library is located in a glorious Victorian building that it shares with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens. I arrived early so was able to explore the fascinating collections in the museum, including its Lowry paintings, local lustreware pottery and glassware, a curious collection of pipes and of course, Wallace the Lion.

Wallace the Lion

I also had time for coffee and cake in the cafe, which not only serves up a very nice cuppa but has views into the deep greenery of the Winter Gardens. A glass dome covers a collection of over 2,000 rainforest plants, a stunning waterfall and a couple of dinosaurs.


I’d been concerned that the weather might deter people from the event, but the folk of Sunderland are made of hardier stuff and I was greeted by a lovely audience of keen readers. I talked about my inspiration for the novel and my writing journey so far and lots of interesting questions were asked at the end. I was glad that I had booked a later train home so that I was able to stay and chat to people and sign copies of The Companion afterwards.

Thank you Sunderland! Next stop on my Read Regional tour – King Cross Library, Halifax on Wednesday 4th April.

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