Team behind Sunderland's Vaux Brewery get green light to transform empty Roker shelter into beachfront bar - with help from George Clarke

The team behind the rebirth of the historic Vaux brand have been given the green light to transform an empty seafront shelter into a beachfront bar.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 10:36 am

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Business partners Michael Thompson and Steve Smith have already had great success in buying the Vaux name in 2019 to bring a host of new beers to the market from their brewery at Roker Retail Park, as well as the city’s only taproom, which opened in summer 2021.

So much so, that Washington-born architect and presenter George Clarke has invested in the business.

Now, they plan to breathe new life into the empty Victorian shelter on Marine Walk, Roker, to help complement the seafront’s burgeoning nighttime economy.

Michael Thompson, George Clarke and Steve Smith at the shelter in Roker which will be transformed

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Their plans to transform the corner plot, which has been underused for decades, were approved by the council's planning department on May 6, 2022.

Rather than a sister site to the Vaux Taproom, the new site, which has not yet been given a name, will have its own identity.

As well as Vaux beers, it will sell brews from around the world, as well as food for sit-in and takeaway. Indoors, it will seat around 100 people, with seating also available at the front to make the most of the views.

Steve said: “We’ve walked past this shelter for years and always thought it would make a great venue. When the council put it out to tender we thought it was an amazing opportunity to do something with it.

The plans include the neighbouring resorts office

"It won’t be a Vaux bar, it will be more of a beachfront bar, a place for good craft beer, good food and good wine. We see it as the final piece on that Marine Walk stretch that was crying out for development.”

Michael said: “Roker seafront is now home to a great stretch of independents, places like Six, Fausto, Love Lily, Grannie Annie’s, that has organically grown and it all helps to make a great offering for people.”

As well as the old shelter, the new development will incorporate a neighbouring storage shelter and the resorts office, which will be relocated, making one large site with its own kitchen, toilets and bar.

Steve added: “We very much see it as a bigger version of what we have at the Taproom. We have the space for around 20 bar taps, but we’ll also be offering a wider range of wines, spirits and cocktails which we don’t do here.”

Work is due to begin towards the end of the year

Works are due to begin on the site towards the end of the year, with plans to open it in the second quarter of 2023 in time for the summer months.

It’s one in a wave of new businesses along the seafront, which are all being operated by independent, local businesses. Among those to open in the coming weeks are Tin of Sardines gin bar in the old toilet block in Pier View in Roker and a new seafood restaurant in the old storage shelter in Seaburn by the team behind Mexico 70 and Ship Isis.

Plans have also been approved to turn the Victorian tram shelter in Seaburn into a Blacks Corner deli.

Steve said: “There are so many great places opening up, places like Pop Recs, all the development around Riverside. Now, you don’t need to go to Newcastle for a night out because there’s enough places in Sunderland.

The new beachfront bar will also include the Resorts Office which will be relocated

"Newcastle is great, but in the past it was the only option, which isn’t the case anymore.”

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The shelter is on the corner of Marine Walk