Sunderland's historic Bishopwearmouth Cemetery chapel to be ‘repaired and restored’, council says as building remains fenced off two years on
Sunderland City Council says it will carry out ‘essential external repair and restoration work’ to an historic Grade II listed chapel in Sunderland’s biggest cemetery.
In January 2021 the Echo reported that residents living close to Bisopwearmouth Cemetery, which lies between Hylton Road and Chester Road, were urging the council to restore the Anglican 1856 South Chapel, which remains dangerously dilapidated.
Scaffold was erected two years ago to protect the steeple and the building fenced off as part of a “detailed inspection”.
In June 2022, the Echo reported how £600,000 has been set aside by the council, but that match-funding was needed from Heritage Lottery. The council did not say then if it had submitted an application for the funding.
Graves and memorials close to the South Chapel include that of George Maling, who received the Victoria Cross for helping save the lives of 300 men in the First World War.
Other notable graves nearby include those of James Allan founder of Sunderland AFC, James Hartley who was Sunderland MP 1865-1868, the Vaux family, Sir Theodore Doxford of Doxford’s shipyard fame and Major General John Reed who fought under the Duke of Wellington.
The cemetery’s Commonwealth war graves section is about 50 metres away.
An identical Central Chapel once sat about 100 metres away. It was demolished some years ago after a fire. The Catholic North Chapel still stands, but it too is in disrepair.
It has not yet been revealed what the final cost of repairing the South Chapel will be, when work will be carried out, or what the building will eventually be used for.
However, the council says the repairs will be done.
A statement from Sunderland City Council said: “We intend to carry out essential external repair and restoration work to the South Chapel and have commenced the process of procuring the specialist consultant support required for delivery of the project.
“Work will commence as soon as possible, subject to necessary consents and approvals.”
The council has already made other notable recent improvements to the cemetery. In 2022 bollards were installed to prevent disrespectful motorists from using it as a shortcut while people were visiting graves. The initiative has been a success.