Sunderland’s historic buildings open their doors for Heritage Open Days

Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer Les Jordan with Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for culture, Cllr Kelly, at Ryhope Pumping Station with (background l-r) volunteer, Irene Maven, Cultural Heritage Development Officer Janet Robinson and volunteer, John Fraser

Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer Les Jordan with Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for culture, Cllr Kelly, at Ryhope Pumping Station with (background l-r) volunteer, Irene Maven, Cultural Heritage Development Officer Janet Robinson and volunteer, John Fraser

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Historic buildings and venues which detail Wearside’s eventful past are set to open their doors to the public later this month.

The annual Heritage Open Days programme gives people the chance of a glimpse behind the scenes at almost 50 buildings, businesses or organisations in and around the city.

Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer Les Jordan with Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Welllness and Culture, Cllr Kelly, at Ryhope Pumping Station with (background l-r) volunteer, Irene Maven, Cultural Heritage Development Officer Janet Robinson and volunteer, John Fraser

Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer Les Jordan with Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Welllness and Culture, Cllr Kelly, at Ryhope Pumping Station with (background l-r) volunteer, Irene Maven, Cultural Heritage Development Officer Janet Robinson and volunteer, John Fraser

The scheme was launched in 1994, and is the country’s largest free celebration of architecture, history and culture.

The event, which this year runs from Thursday, September 10, to Sunday, September 13, began 14 years ago, and has grown in popularity to become one of the biggest in the UK.

Venues hosting events in Sunderland include the North East Land, Sea and Air Museum, Elba Park, in Bournmoor, which will hold a heritage walk and Holy Trinity Church in the city’s East End.

A talk on Ashbrooke and the 50th Division on the Western Front in 1915 will also be held. To help promote this year’s open days, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for culture Councillor John Kelly visited Ryhope Pumping Station to join Keith Bell, chairman of Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer preservation group which is one of the voluntary and community sector organisations involved in organising events.

The number of properties and organisations who want to get involved and events taking place continues to grow every year along with visitor numbers

Coun John Kelly

Coun Kelly said: “The number of properties and organisations who want to get involved and events taking place continues to grow every year along with visitor numbers. Our community has a rich cultural heritage, and the open days provide a great reminder of that generating a lot of interest with people keen to come along and find out more and get involved with a wide range of unusual and unique activities.

“This year we have everything from a brewery open day and heritage walks through some of our oldest parks, to lending an ear for Zeppelins at the fully restored First World War Acoustic Mirror at Fulwell and visiting the Mayor’s Parlour.”

Ryhope Pumping Station was built in the 1880s to provide one of four pumping stations to meet increasing demand for water for both domestic and industrial use.

It closed in 1967 but the engines, buildings and grounds remained untouched until 1970 when restoration became a possibility.

Holy Trinity Church (Parish Church of Sunderland), which stands in the historic East End, could be in line for �3.4 million to help restore the building.

Holy Trinity Church (Parish Church of Sunderland), which stands in the historic East End, could be in line for �3.4 million to help restore the building.

Mr Bell said: “The Victorian engines worked for a hundred years and we have successfully maintained and run them for the last 45 years which is quite an impressive record for a group of dedicated volunteers

“Restoration work took four years to complete, with the maintenance of the machinery and running of the working museum and tea-rooms are all carried out by our small group of volunteers.

“We are open most weekends and bank-holidays and the Heritage Open Days provide a great, annual opportunity to raise public awareness of what we and other voluntary groups are doing across the region to help keep our cultural heritage alive.”

For more information on events go to ​www.hodstw.org.uk.

Colin Wilbourn's "Up in Smoke" and "Wooden Waggonway" a two part sculpture which has been unveiled at Elba Park on the site of the former Lambton Colliery and Coke Works.

Colin Wilbourn's "Up in Smoke" and "Wooden Waggonway" a two part sculpture which has been unveiled at Elba Park on the site of the former Lambton Colliery and Coke Works.