Head to the Stadium of Light—home of the Sunderland Football Club—and you’ll see a series of striking sculptures standing within the park. There, four eight-foot-tall steel men roll giant lumps of coal up the riverbank in a poignant tribute to the city’s industrial past.
The Steel Men Of Wearside were initially commissioned by the Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast back in 2001. They were installed as part of a plan to transform the site of the former Wearmouth Colliery.
The initial plan was to pay homage to the men of Wearside who used to work in the various coal mines around the River Wear. The sculptures also helped to decorate the area that is also one of the last stretches of England’s coast-to-coast bicycle route.
Although they were initially visible from multiple locations around the river, the trees and bushes have been left to grow as they please. Nature’s mission to slowly reclaim the riverbank has thus limited the places you can view the steel sculptures, making them feel a bit like a hidden secret.
Know Before You Go
Although you can still see some of the sculptures from the very top of the West approach to the Stadium of Light when coming down Keir Hardie Way, the only place you are currently able to see all of them is from the top of the North river bank behind the Stadium of Light looking down to the river.
When approached from Millennium Way, the sculptures are on the steep bank immediately to the left as you exit the yellow car park. If there is no parking at the football ground, there is on-street parking in the industrial estate off Easington Street North.
The best way to see the sculptures is to scramble down the bank past the marker stone, although the banks are quite steep and not suitable for those with mobility issues.