Historic Sunderland city centre landmark Mackie’s Corner opens its doors after major restoration
Historic Mackie’s Corner is back in business after a major restoration project.
Built in the 1840s by local businessman Ralph Hutchinson, the Hutchinson’s Buildings were a popular shopping destination that housed some of Sunderland’s first fashion shops.
Once a popular meeting place, the site became known as Mackie’s Corner after hat maker Robert Mackie, whose shop attracted passers-by as his workers could be seen through the windows making hats.
In later years, the buildings housed city institutions such as Chambers nightclub, however, the Grade II-listed building fell into disrepair during the late 20th century and from the early 2000s it had lain derelict, a ghost of its former self.
Fortunately, local property developers, the Kirtley family, decided to take on the challenge of breathing new life into Mackie’s corner, purchasing the property in 2017.
Their bold vision was to return Mackie’s Corner to its roots by redeveloping the site as a mixed commercial property with multiple retail outlets and office spaces.
Historic England and Sunderland City Council supported this ambitious redevelopment project with a grant of £350,000 through Sunderland Heritage Action Zone’s Partnership Grant Scheme.
Over the past year, this financial support has paid for essential repairs to the outside of the building including stonework, windows, beautiful new shop fronts, as well as the lead dome, which houses Mackie’s famous clock.
With the grant funded works now complete, Mackie’s is ready to open for business when lockdown restrictions on shops ease next month.
Further works will be completed by the Kirtley family to bring the whole building back in to use.
The restoration marks an important milestone for the on-going success of the wider Sunderland Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) initiative, which aims to rejuvenate the historic city centre.
Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Dynamic City, Councillor Rebecca Atkinson said: "It’s great to see Mackie’s restored to its former glory. The new owners had recognised the potential this building has at the heart of our high street and at this crossroads with Fawcett Street.
“This is a project that the City Council and our partners at Historic England were very pleased to support and progress. Getting the clock restored was a big and visible step, and now residents can see what a difference the complete restoration works have made to the high street.
"Re-use of historic buildings are significant steps forward in helping to revive the high street. Mackie’s will again play a prominent role and with new businesses opening this is a promising vote of confidence for our city centre. We have investors and businesses who want to operate in our city and it’s important that when we have the opportunity we support them.”
Jules Brown, Historic Places Advisor for Historic England, said: “Mackie’s Corner has always been much more than just a building; it’s part of the soul of Sunderland. As one of the city’s most popular historic meeting places, we can only imagine how many first dates, secret get-togethers and tearful reunions have taken place under its gaze."