Revamped Black Bull re-named after vaudeville star Vesta

Some of the bar staff at the Vesta Tilleys pub in High Street West, Sunderland. Pictured (left to right) are Lana Humphreys, Martha Snaith and Shaun Tate
Some of the bar staff at the Vesta Tilleys pub in High Street West, Sunderland. Pictured (left to right) are Lana Humphreys, Martha Snaith and Shaun Tate
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A VAUDEVILLE star is making a return to Wearside thanks to a pub’s new lease of life.

The former Black Bull has undergone a £1million renovation and will re-open as Vesta Tilleys in honour of the music hall star.

Sunderland Empire Playbill - Monday July 1st 1907 Grand Opening Night 'Vesta Tilley appearing plus Sunderland's own favourite Lilian Lea old ref number 3 350

Sunderland Empire Playbill - Monday July 1st 1907 Grand Opening Night 'Vesta Tilley appearing plus Sunderland's own favourite Lilian Lea old ref number 3 350

A male impersonator, Vesta was hugely popular at the turn of the last century and became a symbol of female independence.

She became synonymous with Wearside after laying the foundation stone for the Sunderland Empire in 1906.

A bar at the theatre was opened in her name, however, it was replaced by the new Ambassador’s Lounge last year.

Now the name will live on over the road after Amber Taverns bought the pub site.

Copy pic of Vesta Tilley

Copy pic of Vesta Tilley

The firm, which owns 100 pubs across the north, has spent the past few months stripping the High Street West venue to create an Edwardian-themed watering hole.

George Poulter, regional manager for Amber Taverns, said: “We take over pubs that are under-performing and give them some love. We bought this venue in March when the tenant’s lease ran out and closed it down while we refurbished it. We’ve basically ripped everything out and started again.”

Paul Storey, area manager, said: “There’s a lot of history here. It’s the last shop front pub in Sunderland. We wanted a name that linked with the history of the area and when we found out that the Empire no longer used the Vesta Tilley name we knew we had to have that.”

The pub is the latest to re-open in the area after the renovation of The Dun Cow opposite. It fits well with plans by the MAC Trust to create an Edwardian cultural quarter centred around the Old Fire Station.

“We didn’t know about the plans when we bought the site,” said Paul. “But it ties in perfectly. The site appealed to us because we wanted a pub on a circuit, that could appeal to a broad audience.

“It will be like pubs used to be, with value for money drinks.”

The pub will be selling cask ciders and real ale including Double Maxim which is brewed in Rainton Meadows.

Around 15-20 jobs have been created by the new pub, which opens to the public tomorrow.

Paul added: “We’ve been getting a lot of interest from the general public, I think people are just glad to see someone doing something with the site.

“It was so dark and narrow before and when you looked in you were faced with a flight of stairs. We’ve really opened it up, we’ve even ripped out the old toilets to create a seating area with windows that looks out over the new town square.”