Category Archives: Journalism

Sunderland Remembers Ruby Presidential Visit on Wearside V1

Sunderland Remembers Ruby Presidential Visit on Wearside – Sunderland One
Wayne Madden

A Sunderland resident has been fondly remembering an historic visit from US President Jimmy Carter to Wearside. Michael Gough, an amateur documentarian and filmmaker, captured the event using his Super 8 millimeter film camera on May 6th 1977. “I remember the moment of deciding to buy a cine camera in 1967 very well” Michael says, who also used the device to capture footage of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

Mr. Carter, who served as US President between 1977 and 1981, was America’s 39th President and visited Sunderland on this month forty years ago in an official capacity. Having just three weeks notice to prepare, the visit was very informal by Presidential standards, Tyne Tees Television capturing the event for American networks and the footage of which is now preserved, alongside Michael’s work, by both Yorkshire Film Archive and the North East Film Archive.

Mr. Gough, a now retired educator who moved to the area in the early 1970s with his wife Linda, captured the President’s visit much like any other event he felt might have been of greater significance. “I realized that if I only made family style home movies there would be a very restricted audience so I explored subjects that would appeal to wider audiences” he said recently, speaking to Sunderland One.

“When I decided to film Jimmy Carter my expectation was that it would be a newsreel filler which might remain of interest for a couple of years. Who was to know that ‘Welcome to Washington’ would do so well and still be shown 40 years later?” Michael remembers the day itself very well, but says that there wasn’t much time to stand on ceremony off camera.

“I was working only a few minutes’ walk from Washington Old Hall. I filmed it during my 1 hour lunch break so I only had about 45 minutes free on location. The filming was a rush to get crowds before Jimmy Carter came, see him at the Hall, then rush away before he planted a tree on the green. There was no planning at all. I simple [sic] responded to what was happening and tried to get enough pictures to tell the story. It was all a bit too rushed to feel any particular emotion or recognize the historical significance.”

President Carter visited the city as part of his tour of the North East, taking a tour of Corning Ltd glass works accompanied by then British Prime Minister James Callaghan. The centre, which was originally part of Sunderland Glass Works, was bought out by the American Corning in 1973 and closed its doors in 2007. Corning in America has worked exclusively with Steve Jobs since 2006 and are perhaps most famous for providing the hardware glass which encases the iPhone.
President Carter arrived in the region when Air Force One officially landed in Newcastle Airport at just after 9:30am on 6th May. As part of his visit to Sunderland, his Presidential motorcade traveled over the Wearmouth Bridge, cheered by people lining the route. Seated in a Daimler car he was formally greeted upon his arrival in the city by the then Mayor of Sunderland, Charles Slater as well as Fred Willey, then MP for Sunderland North, Gordon Eagier, then MP for Sunderland South and other distinguished guests.

President Carter also took time to visit Washington, particularly Washington Old Hall, where he laid a tree sapling alongside Prime Minister Callaghan. The Old Hall is the ancestral home of George Washington, first known as the “de Wessyngtons”, who settled there from 1180AD. One of the smallest buildings in the possession of the National Trust, it is from a member of the family in the thirteenth century that departed Durham, from whom President Washington could trace his lineage. It is also one of the reasons why Sunderland City and Washington USA signed a unique ‘Friendship Agreement’ in 2006 leading to the establishment of Sunderland Shorts Film Festival.

The Washington coat of arms has been said to have inspired the flag of the United States. An example of the Washington coat of arms or shield can be seen in the cloisters of Durham Cathedral. Holding a special ceremony of American Independence every year, the building is often overlooked by tourists in the region, an H-shaped manor house in the heart of Washington village.

Indeed, it is this friendship and jovial attitude which filmmaker Michael Gough remembers most clearly from the day itself, a parallel on how things have changed in the intervening years regarding visits from such a high profile head of state. “I remember being amused by the intended anonymity of the American security guards who stood out like sore thumbs as they wore hearing aids and secretly talked up their sleeves.”

Mr. Carter made a second, far less public, visit to the region in 1987 by which time he had left Presidential office. In 2013 he sent a letter of thanks to Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes after Mr. Forbes had returned to him a framed photo taken on his original visit. Speaking directly to Sunderland One Cllr Forbes said: “Newcastle has great memories of President Carter’s visit”. “As a result of it our city was twinned with Atlanta – a great transatlantic friendship which has remained strong for the last 40 years. I took a photograph of the event with me on a recent visit to Atlanta, which the mayor’s office arranged to be presented to President Carter.”

The former President, who turned 92 in October, is still very much active in public life and was seen attending President Donald J Trump’s inauguration ceremony earlier this year. This is despite the nonagenarian recently informing an audience he had voted for Bernie Sanders.

At a talk on human rights issues, Mr. Carter went on to say “dissatisfaction with the existing system of politics” resulted in President Trump’s election. “People were willing just to take a chance and to abandon democracy and what we knew about its basic principles and try something new, no matter what it was,” he added.

In Feb 2017 Sunderland AFC Manager David Moyes issued Donald Trump an invitation to come and meet the team ahead of their mid season trip to New York. “If Donald Trump wants to come and see the boys, he’s very welcome,” Moyes is quoted as telling The Express. In a four day bonding session the team were photographed jogging around Central Park and being put through their paces on several exercise routines.

It is not believed that Mr. Trump was aware of or was able to respond formally to Mr. Moyes invitation. When Sunderland One contacted the Office for Presidential Correspondence on the matter we were unsuccessful in receiving a response.

I’m In Love With My Car; The Love Affair

I’m In Love with My Car – Sunderland One
Wayne Madden

A retiree celebrated his everlasting love for car sales in Sunderland this week, presented with recognition of service from his long standing employer at a special ceremony. John Watchman, 65, has spent 38 years in the motor retail industry and all of that time with just one employer – Bristol Street Motors Vauxhall Sunderland.

John, who was the guitarist for R&B band Love Affair in the 1960s prior to joining the firm as a sales executive, worked hard to obtain the position of Car Sales Manager. Love Affairs biggest hit, a cover of Robert Knight’s ‘Everlasting Love’, could sum up perfectly the admiration which John has for his employer.

The grandfather, who was presented with a special plaque by general manager Jass Singh, was humbled by the turnout of colleagues and well-wishers including Bristol Street Motors CEO Robert Forrester. “I’ve had a wonderful 38 years with Bristol Street Motors Vauxhall Sunderland. Bristol Street Motors is one off, if not the best in the motor retail industry and I’ve loved working for them.”

When asked what he was likely to do in his retirement John responded “I’ll spend more of my evenings playing guitar with my friends in local bands. I’m also looking forward to spending a lot more time at my second home in Spain and helping my children and grandchildren out with their young ones.”

Jass, all too aware of John’s talent and experience, said: “John’s presence around the dealership will be greatly missed. He has a wealth of experience and that shines through in the way he deals with customers and colleagues. Nothing is ever too much trouble and he is always prepared to lend a helping hand or answer any questions.”

Love Affair formed in London in 1966. Their first single, ‘She Smiled Sweetly’, was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, released on Decca Records. By 1968 the band had moved to CBS Records and recruited John Watchman in April 1971 for the single ‘Help Me Get Some Help’. They attracted controversy by later admitting that most of their singles did not feature Love Affair band members playing the instruments, but instead session musicians, who recorded the music while the band was on the road.

Love Affair disbanded in the 1970s, with some of the bands former members forming a partnership with Tim Staffel, the vocalist in pre-Queen band Smile who would be replaced by Freddie Mercury. John, who still plays in a number of local bands, gave an online interview in 2007 about the bands collapse and his subsequent musical endeavors’.

“I was offered a chance of a job with Roxy Music in Feb 72 after working in a previous band with Paul Thompson but decided to go to Sweden with Love Affair…I started working in Sunderland Locarno in the house band from spring 73 to late 75 when the band transferred to Tiffany’s Wimbledon then on again to Tiffany’s Newcastle until September 1977. I then recorded two albums with Tommy Morrison on Real Records, the first being co-produced by Paul Rodgers. The second, never released at the time, was produced by Ed Stasium. I then recorded with Paul Rodgers but the material was all demos.”

Mad Max; Black and Chrome, Film Review

When George Miller’s Fury Road first burst onto our screens in 2015, we were greeted with a novel concept, a truly likable post millennium film. In our cynical world we’d forgotten the beauty of a movie which doesn’t over think, looks artistically incredible and has a simple plot. Max is a drifter, captured by renegades who seek his blood, forced into servitude. A tyrannical dictator named ‘Joe’ keeps several women captive, hoping to conceive a suitable heir, their beauty and purity unmatched. Max and Joe collide, the women in both their lives suitably liberated and the pursuit is on.

At its heart, Mad Max is a road movie, everything from Max himself to the metal guitarist (now perhaps more infamous for refusing to help inaugurate Donald Trump) strapped firmly to a hood. In this new edition some 24 months later we’re treated to a picture entirely converted to black and chrome, something that creates a unique opportunity to have a revaluation of a modern blockbuster. While it’s impossible to say exactly what effect this monochrome effect has on modern film precisely, we can say that it looks incredible in its usage here, the darkness is more effective when it needs to be and there’s a sinister edge of horror comparable to the opening gambit of Mad Max 2. By removing the color from our screens the director has created a violently drawn image which we’re almost transfixed on. It’s art.

Like Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Stirling before him, Miller has purposefully chosen to avoid color, feeling that his choice of black and chrome may add that additional character the movie has been seeking. Miller calls this his superior version, and while I’m likely to agree, would remind viewers that the “original” version is just as good.