Festival will celebrate Sunderland's colourful history - here's the historic buildings opening their doors

Some of Sunderland’s most historic buildings are throwing open their doors for a heritage festival.

Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 3:30 pm

The festival, which takes place on Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23, celebrates the city’s Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), which takes in the area around Sunderland's historic Fawcett Street and Old Sunderland which includes High Street East and High Street West.

Set up in 2017 to breathe new life into the area’s buildings, some of the oldest in the city, and help drive forward their restoration, the HAZ was the first in the North East and one of only ten in the country to secure Heritage Action Zone status (HAZ) from Historic England, who have also funded the project alongside Sunderland City Council.As part of the festival, a series of events and tours will see the general public learn the traditional skills used in the conservation of historic buildings and celebrate the very best of the area’s rich heritage.

The venues involved are: Seventeen Nineteen at Holy Trinity Church, The Donnison School in Church Walk, Phoenix Hall in Queen Street Masonic Hall, Sunderland Maritime Heritage in the East End, the Local History Library at Elephant Tea Rooms and Pop Recs in High Street West. All events are free, but some are ticketed.

The HAZ festival takes place on July 22 and 23

A vintage bus is planned as a shuttle service between Mackie’s Corner and Church Street East and Queen Street East on the Saturday of the festival.

Sarah Carr, Heritage Action Zone Project Manager, said it’s a great way of celebrating what’s been achieved in the HAZ over the last five years, including the painstaking restoration and transformation of the old Holy Trinity Church into new events space Seventeen Nineteen and Pop Recs breathing new life into once-forgotten buildings at the bottom of High Street West.

Sarah said: “The festival marks the culmination of the five-year HAZ project and is a real celebration of everything that’s been achieved, the buildings that have been restored and brought back into use, as well as the live projects which are ongoing, such as the restoration of Phoenix Hall (the Grade 1-listed Freemasons building in the East End) and 177 High Street West (18th century buildings which will be brought back to life).

"You can really see the impact of the project on the high street now and the festival is a great way to shout about it, while also giving our partners the chance to collectively promote what’s going on, as well as existing gems like the Old Donnison School and Sunderland Maritime Heritage. The key thing is to get people to move around the area, as it’s something that’s not fully tapped into.

Centre manager Tracey Mienie at the newly-restored Seventeen Nineteen at Holy Trinity

"The buildings that have been restored are wonderful and the restorations have been fantastic, but what’s really interesting is the social history and the stories behind them, which tell the story of the early development of Sunderland."

Heritage Action Zone timetable of events

Friday, July 22

::Elephant Tearooms, 10am –2.45pm – lino printing workshop. Free, but ticketed at Eventbrite.

The font at Seventeen Nineteen

::The Donnison School, 10.30am – 12.30pm – The Creative Craft Exchange. Tel: 0191 565 4835

::Sunderland Maritime Heritage, 10am – 3.30pm – open day, no booking required. Free guided tour at 11am.

::Seventeen Nineteen, 11am to 12 noon – Conserving Holy Trinity, Historic Building Tour. Free but ticketed at Eventbrite. (Note: the embroidery and stained glass workshops are sold out.)

::Guided walk around HAZ, 2pm-3.30pm. Free but ticketed at Eventbrite.

Dan Shannon, one of the directors inside the new Pop Recs Ltd coffee cafe on High Street West.

::Songs of the Streets, Walking Tour, 10.30am-12 noon, meet at Seventeen Nineteen. Free but ticketed at Eventbrite.

Saturday, July 23

::Phoenix Hall, 10am - 3.30pm - Traditional building skills demonstrations of techniques such as blacksmithing. No booking required.

::Local History Library at Elephant Tearooms, 10am - 4pm - Exhibition of work on the HAZ by the children of Hudson Road Primary School. No booking required.

::Sunderland Maritime Heritage, 10am – 3.30pm – Heritage Centre open. No booking required.

::Seventeen Nineteen, 10am – 5pm – Artisan stalls, art and exhibition, food and beverages, drop-in craft demos including stonemasonry, spinning

Inside the new Pop Recs Ltd venue on High Street West.

and weaving, knotwork, embroidery, quilting, stained glass. No booking required.

::Seventeen Nineteen, 2pm -3pm – Custodian Tour – Behind the Scenes. Free but ticketed at Eventbrite

::The Donnison School, 11am – 3.30pm – Victorian Summer Fair. No booking required

::Pop Recs, 12noon-1.30pm – Songs of the Streets Performance by Holly Rees. No booking required.

The festival celebrates breathing new life into some of the city's oldest buildings
Sunderland Maritime Heritage is part of the festival