Washington New Town residents celebrates its golden anniversary

It has been 50 years since Washington New Town was born, engulfing what was once a small village

New homes and children's play area at Glebe Village, Washington. 26th January 1977
New homes and children's play area at Glebe Village, Washington. 26th January 1977

A new town has reached the grand old age of 50.

Washington is celebrating its golden anniversary with a giveaway, a garden party, and the burial of a time capsule.

And today, we look back at how the town looked five decades ago when the first homes were built and the first families moved in.

These pictures show the new ‘space age’ homes and huge retail units which sprung up in what was once just a small village.

Celebrations of the anniversary kick off tomorrow with a garden party in the centre to coincide with USA Flag Day highlighting the town’s links to America.

Civic bosses are also planning to give £50,000 to local community groups to help them mark the event through the rest of the year.


The Washington Development Corporation was launched in 1964, in a year which saw the birth of Washington New Town.

It was the event which transformed the area from a small village into a town with a population of 67,000.

There were mistakes along the way including the decision to signpost the original 15 different sections of the town by numbers in a move which confused visitors.

But there were also highlights including the 1977 visit by US president Jimmy Carter to the ancestral home of first-ever president George Washington where he famously said “Howway the lads” in a southern drawl.

Tomorrow’s event, starting at 11am, is hosted by the Teal Road Residents Association.

Sunderland City Council’s Deputy Leader, Coun Harry Trueman, will plant a memorial cherry tree.

Coun Trueman said: “It is very important to celebrate this historic milestone. By working with community groups across Washington we are encouraging the residents to decide how this money is spent and what celebrations they would like to be a part of.

“Street parties, fetes and fayres are a great traditional way of bringing the community together. In addition to these we would also be very interested in hearing thoughts and ideas of how to create a legacy, something that will last for many years to come.“

Teal Farm event organiser Fred Kirkland said Washington was still expanding and he hoped residents from the newest areas of the town would share in the celebrations.

He said: “There will be something for everyone on the day - with family friendly competitions with a wide range of prizes supplied by local businesses.

“Absolutely everybody is welcome to come along. I would encourage all of our local residents especially those from our three new housing estates and anyone from across the city to come and join our celebrations.”

A fun highlight will be the arrival of a cycle from transport charity Sustrans which allows people to make a fruit smoothie by pedal power.

Famous Washington residents include Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music fame and the controversial model Heather Mills.

It was also the home of the late explorer and spy Gertrude Bell whose work in the Middle East helped set up the boundaries of modern-day Iraq.

The town is proud of its history and its industrial estates are named after North East engineers such as Parsons, Armstrong, Stephenson, Crowther, Pattinson, Swan and Emerson.

Washington is also home to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust nature reserve and has the Galleries shopping centre.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer