Final preparations are underway as the popular Wetherspoons, one of the flagship pubs in the chain’s northern portfolio, gets ready to reopen from 8am on Sunday, January 23, when drinkers and diners will be met with a new look to the site.
The major feature of the £2.2million refit is the creation of a brand new 3,000sqft roof terrace, which will seat more than 50 people when it opens in the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, there’s been plenty of changes to the 7,500sqft interior too.
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The main difference is the levelling of the dance floor, to make it more adaptable, meaning it can be used for tables during the day, and cleared at weekends for live DJ sets, which has helped to open up the space.
There’s also new carpets, furnishings and a lighter, more modern look at the site, which opened as a Wetherspoons in 2011 after previous incarnations as Blu Bamboo, Beach nightclub and Durham Book Store. Artworks also pay tribute to the history of the city, with pictures honouring the shipyard girls, Wallace the lion and more.
While there will still be music and dancing at weekends, the new look is also aimed at making the site more comfortable for diners and families.
Manager Nik Chapman said there’s been a lot of interest in the new chapter for the site.
"A lot of people have been walking in while refurbishments have been taking place because they’ve been keen to have a look,” he said. “It’s a popular pub so I think it’s been a big miss for people.”
Speaking about the new roof terrace, he added: “Two-thirds of the roof is a flat space, with the front third pitched. As long as nine years ago we talked about how it would be an unbelievable space for a roof terrace, so when the opportunity came about it made perfect sense to do a complete refurb at the same time.
"The roof terrace will definitely be open in time for the summer and is going to be a real sun trap, and a great addition to the city centre.”
Once the roof terrace opens, and the scaffolding is removed, it means the popular new rear outdoor space, which transformed a back lane last spring, will also reopen.
The new improvements and increased covers at the site has also led to new jobs, with 47 new people joining the existing 110.
With the covid vaccine hitting headlines at the moment, it’s rather fitting that The Cooper Rose is named after another vaccine.
In 1890, Dr Henry Renney, the public vaccinator for Sunderland, was living in Albion Place. He advocated the use of The Cooper Rose vaccinator and his thoughts on public vaccination went on to be published in the British Medical Journal.
The redesign also honours the then town’s shipbuilding history, with a colour palette inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement from the turn of the last century.
:: The Cooper Rose reopens at 8am on Sunday, January 23 and will be open from 8am until midnight on weekdays and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.