Restoration plans for Sunderland landmark almost complete

Members of the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene - Councillor Stephen Foster, Councillor Doris MacKnight, chairman, Keith Younghusband and Councillor Dennis Wilson and Hylton Castle Project Board's learning manager, Elanor Johnson.

Members of the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene - Councillor Stephen Foster, Councillor Doris MacKnight, chairman, Keith Younghusband and Councillor Dennis Wilson and Hylton Castle Project Board's learning manager, Elanor Johnson.

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The first detailed plans for the restoration of one of Sunderland’s best known historic landmarks are set to be revealed.

The Hylton Castle Project will see its buildings and grounds of the 14th Century gatehouse returned to former glory and create a new centre for heritage and learning, sharing the history and cultural heritage of the site with a new generation.

It’s great to see the vision of a new future for Hylton Castle taking shape, and we are looking forward to hearing ideas from the community and helping turn them in to reality.

Elanor Johnson

Designs for the site are now at an advanced stage, with contractors due to be appointed in the next few weeks to begin the work.

A drop-in session has been arranged for Tuesday at the Bunnyhill Centre from 2.30pm to 7pm, offering a chance to see the plans, meet the project team and share their views and suggestions on the future of the castle.

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for public health, wellness and culture, Coun John Kelly said: “It’s exciting to see local people’s vision for the castle to once again become at the centre of community life, finally becoming reality.

“The fact we have now reached the design and construction stage is testament to their hard work and determination, and we can all look forward to the castle re-opening its doors as a cultural heritage and education centre.”

Learning manager Elanor Johnson joined director Jon Charlton on the Hylton Castle Project team last month, and is hoping to meet as many people as possible at the session and over the coming months to share their views and opinions of how things should progress.

Elanor said: “It’s great to see the vision of a new future for Hylton Castle taking shape, and we are looking forward to hearing ideas from the community and helping turn them in to reality.”

A website, www.hyltoncastle.org.uk, has also been launched about the project, which looks at the castle’s history, news and events, visitor information and how to find out more.

The next step in the plans will be this spring, when the council plans to appoint contractors to carry out the work.

That will continue in the summer as a education and outreach events, apprenticeships are launched and training opportunities take place.

It is then expected that the castle will open to visitors from summer next year.

The project is funded by £2.9million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and an additional £1.5million from the council.

The project is administered by members of the Hylton Castle Project Board appointed by the council, including the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene, the voluntary group which has campaigned for more than 20 years to have the castle restored and returned to community use.

Keith Younghusband, chairman of the Friends of Hylton Castle and Dene, which includes all the Castle ward councillors, said: “After many years of hard work by lots of people, Hylton Castle is facing a bright future.

“We’d love to hear what people think of the designs before work starts on site, so I hope everyone will come along to the drop-in session and share their views and suggestions with us.”

Elanor is keen to hear from anyone who would like to get involved with the project, and can be contacted via elanor.johnson@sunderland.gov.uk or by calling (0191) 561 8611.