Work forges ahead on transformation of old Roker seafront toilet block into gin bar

Work is progressing on the transformation of an old toilet block in Roker into a new gin bar for the city.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the Davis family, who own Durham’s Tin of Sardines, are bringing their successful gin emporium and restaurant concept to Sunderland with a sister Tin of Sardines site.

Work has started on creating the gin bar in the former Roker Toilet Block in Pier View, as part of a wave of investment along the seafront.

Now, Trevor Davis, who, along with his son Ben and Ben’s partner Beth Hardy, has taken on a 10-year lease with Sunderland City Council has given the Echo more details on what we can expect from the new addition to the city.

Work has started on transforming the former toilet block in Roker into a gin bar

Trevor, who has just opened the new Curious Mr Fox bar and restaurant in Durham City, said: “I’m known for using quirky spaces for my venues and when the site in Roker came up it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

"It’s had a lot of uses over the years and was once a tram shed and it’s great to be doing something with it. It’s going to be such a nice space for food and drink with some of the best views in the city. We’re creating bi-fold doors to make the most of the views.”

Due to open later this year, the Tin of Sardines will join other new additions such as the Seaburn Inn and Stack Seaburn, as well as seafood restaurant in a former shelter in Seaburn, which are all part of the wider Seafront Regeneration Scheme.

"Over the years, the town has suffered but there’s so much happening in Sunderland at the minute,” said Trevor, who also owns Old Tom’s Gin Bar in Durham. “You’ve always had annual events like the Airshow, which bring a lot of people to the seafront, but all the new developments mean there’s something for everyone all year round.

Trevor Davis with son Ben at their Tin of Sardines bar in Durham

"We’ll be open seven days a week for people to come in for a drink and we have a licence until 12/1am.”

The Durham Tin of Sardines, on Elvet Bridge, has gained international press for being the world’s smallest gin bar, as it holds just 16 people and serves hundreds of varieties of gins. Trevor has also opened a Tin of Sardines in his home town of Poole in Dorset.

Its sister site in Roker will create 10 new jobs for the city and will be part-funded by a £250,000 investment from Sunderland City Council, assisted by grant funding courtesy of The Coastal Communities Fund.

The income from the lease will support the Sunderland Seafront Trust, which operates the Roker Pier and Lighthouse tours and the new income will help it to organise a range of seafront events and activities.

Tin of Sardines Roker will open later this year

Trevor has also revealed that he is considering plans to open a Curious Mr Fox in Sunderland, and already has a potential site.

The £1million bar and restaurant opened in the Riverwalk development in Durham City this month and features four rooms spread over two floors in centuries-old buildings.

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