As the name suggests this museum was originally a station in Sunderland.It was built in 1848 to a design by Thomas Moore and was once the main railway station in the city. The railway station closed in March 1967 as a result of the Beeching Axe and featured a restored booking office dating from the Edwardian period. The station has once again been brought to life through inspiring and interactive displays, telling the story of an age when Monkwearmouth was the main station for the city and the building buzzed with the excitement of the people passing through. The Museum houses seven interactive galleries, including a specially designed Children's Gallery. The track is still in use and you can watch trains pass by as well as 'drive' a full-size bus cab. This is a great place for anybody interested in the railways as they have a wonderfully comprehensive collection relating to a fascinating bygone era.
The name Monkwearmouth is of significance as it is at the mouth of the River Wear and once the home of a very famous monk, The Venerable Bede, the aouthor of the first history of England. The monastery was founded in 674 by Benedict Biscop, first with the establishment of the monastery of St Peter's, Monkwearmouth on land given by Egfrid, King of Northumbria. His idea was to build a model monastery for England, sharing his knowledge of the experience of the Roman traditions in an area previously more influenced by Celtic Christianity stemming from missionaries of Melrose and Iona. A papal letter in 678 exempted the monastery from external control, and in 682 the king was so delighted at the success of St Peter's, he gave Benedict more land in Jarrow and urged him to build a second monastery. Benedict erected a sister foundation (St Paul) at Jarrow, appointing Ceolfrith as its superior, who left Monkwearmouth with 20 monks (including his protégé the young Bede) to start the foundation in Jarrow. Benedict brought workmen from Francia to build these churches, the first ecclesiastical structures in Britain built of stone, and furnished it with glass windows, pictures, service books and the library he had collected on his travels. Window glass being unusual in England at the time, Benedict imported glassmakers from Francia, who established a workshop at the Monkwearmouth site, which stands on a nearby site on the river Wear.
The library Benedict had created on his travels to Rome and then given to the monastery made it the cradle not only of English art but of English literature – Jarrow is where the Venerable Bede received his early education under Ceolfrith's patronage and lived, wrote and died as a monk. By his death Bede had established himself as England's leading scriptural and historical authority, and was to have a vital post-mortem influence on the fortunes of the monastery. Bede's writings, most importantly his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, became so popular in the 8th century that they not only assured the reputation of the houses, but influenced the development of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow's distinctive insular minuscule script, developed to increase the speed of book production. All Areas Accessible to Disabled Visitors. Guide Dogs Permitted. Parking Areas for Disabled Visitors. Ramp / Level Access. Toilets for Disabled Visitors.
Location : North Bridge St, Sunderland SR5 1AP
Transport: St Peters (Green Line). Bus routes X36 stops outside and 700 and 701 stop nearby.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00. Sunday 14:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Free Guided Tours on Heritage Open Days
Tel: 0191 567 7075