Tyne and Wear HER(12456): Whitburn Bents Conservation Area - Details
Whitburn Bents Conservation Area
Designated in 1970 in recognition of its unique character, its historic interest and its link with Sir Hedworth Williamson. It is the smallest Conservation Area in Sunderland and features a concave terrace of early 20th century cottages built on the site of earlier fisherman's cottages and an 18th century farmstead. The CA is bounded by Whitburn Bents Road to the west and the beach to the east. Whitburn Bents Farmhouse (HER 4727) is a listed building. In the 18th century a path on Sea Lane (now East Street) linked Whitburn village (HER 108) to Whitburn Bents. The Bents was originally a farming and fishing community. In 1828 The Bents was described as 'a small hamlet on the seashore with ten fishing boats and bathing machines stationed there'. South Bents Farm was established during the 18th century and included barns and outbuildings. A row of fisherman's cottages were then built in the 19th century to create The Bents hamlet. This was a row of single storey white washed cottages and a lifeboat house to the north. The Board Public House was owned by a William Purvis, fisherman, in the mid 1800s. In the mid 19th century a gas works was built by Sir Hedworth Williamson, landowner at Whitburn, Roker and Monkwearmouth. The gas works provided gas lighting for his family house Whitburn Hall (HER 8470). By 1896 the hamlet had grown with the addition of another row of cottages and two groups of grandeur cottages perpendicular to the main rows at the north and south ends. The cottages at the south end still survive as a single house known as Sandpiper. The coast road between Roker and Whitburn was not built until after the First World War. Thus the hamlet remained secluded. Residents had to walk to Seaburn to catch a tram into Sunderland. In the 1920s 'the smallest shop in Sunderland' was built next to the south end cottage, which became a tea-room. In 1938 the cottages were demolished by Sir Hedworth Williamson and rebuilt in the crescent shape. The new cottages were damaged during bombing in 1940. The gas works were demolished. After the War the cottages were rebuilt. In recent years the barns at South Bents Farm have been demolished for modern infill developments. A Fishermen's Club still occupies a small dene to the north.
Sunderland City Council, 2007, Whitburn Bents Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Strategy; T. Corfe, 1973, A History of Sunderland; T. Corfe, 1983, The Buildings of Sunderland 1814-1914; G.E. Miller and S.T. Milburn, 1988, Sunderland, River, Town & People; P. O'Brien and P. Gibson, 1997, The Archive Photographs Series: Seaburn and Roker; N. Pevsner, 1983, The Buildings of England: County Durham (second edition revised by Elizabeth Williamson); S. Reeder, 1992, Whitburn and Roker in old picture postcards