SUNDERLAND’S NEW public space Keel Square is officially opened on Monday 31 August at 11 am, by the Mayor of Sunderland, Leader of the City Council and special guests.
Part of an ongoing multi-million pound city-centre regeneration strategy, the square is an important landmark welcoming visitors to the heart of the city.
The square celebrates the city’s international significance and its shipbuilding heritage.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council said: “Officially opening Keel Square will be an important step forward in Sunderland’s journey of change.
“The square celebrates our world-class shipbuilding prowess and proud industrial heritage. It gives the city a space for events and a landmark to be proud of.
“It’s great to see people already enjoying the square, and this event will welcome the families of those featured in the Propeller, those who helped design and build the square, and of course Sunderland residents who are keen to find out more about our heritage and enjoy a great day out”
Sunderland Keel Square is home to two pieces of public art, the ‘Keel Line’ and ‘Propellers of the City’
The Keel Line is a strip of engraved granite that runs through the square and will continue over St Mary’s Boulevard, into and through planned Vaux site developments, to the riverside. At 291.7 metres (957ft) the line represents the full length of the ‘Naess Crusader’, the longest ship ever built in Sunderland and launched in December 1972. The line features the names of 8,102 of ships built in Sunderland since 1786 and has illustrations of notable people, places and events by Sunderland artist Bryan Talbot,
At the start of the line is ‘Propellers of the City’, a 3.5 metre (11.5ft) high interactive sculpture, which includes the photographs of 400 local people who worked in the shipyards.
The £3m development of the square features fountains, adjustable lighting and specially commissioned Friendship Benches highlighting the city’s international partnerships. The benches feature crests of the places Sunderland has friendship or twinning agreements with, including St Nazaire in France, Essen in Germany, Harbin in China and Washington DC in the USA.