£4.3m transformation of Sunderland's Holy Trinity Church gathers pace ahead of reopening
The transformation of one of Sunderland’s most historic buildings is gathering pace ahead of a reopening this autumn.
Once at the heart of old Sunderland, housing the old town’s council chamber and library, Holy Trinity Church in the East End played a vital role in the community, but in more recent decades the Grade I-listed building had fallen into disrepair.
Now, more than 300 years since it was built, it’s taking shape as a new events and arts space for the city named Seventeen Nineteen, after the year the church was created for the Parish of Sunderland.
The £4.3million project to restore and transform the site will come to fruition when the building opens to the public in autumn. Ahead of the reopening, dignitaries have visited the site to check out some of the highly-skilled work that’s gone into the restoration which is led by the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) who care for the Georgian building.
Mayor of Sunderland, Harry Trueman, said: “It’s been a number of years since I visited Holy Trinity Church. I was delighted to be invited along with my wife and Mayoress, Dorothy, to see the transformation, which was tremendous to say the least.
"The workmanship of stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, glaziers and all the other trades was exceptional. The architect and all the management team are exceptional and so committed to this project.”
Work undertaken on the building includes urgent and highly-skilled fabric repair, including brickwork and masonry, plastering and joinery, as well as sensitively equipping this space with up to date facilities.
Just some of the major works undertaken include replacing all of the windows with an original sash window design; introducing an under floor air flow system with the removal of over 600 tonnes of rubble from the floor void to allow airflow back into the building so it can breathe once again; replacing more than 14,000 handmade bricks and skilled stone masons repairing damaged stone work using traditional methods.
While sympathetically restoring the building’s historic features, modernisation works include under floor heating, toilets, a welcome desk and a servery counter for functions, as well as a brand new nave ceiling, all new lights, a new glass entrance way to keep out the wind, stone floors and an office space.
Councillor Barbara McClennan, Hendon ward, said: “It was fascinating to see the work already done and to discuss what was planned in Holy Trinity as it "unveils its new persona – Seventeen Nineteen.
"A visitor would probably say ‘What’s changed. It looks the same to me?’ That is what good conservation is all about. Only when you search for the modernising effects do you notice necessities of the modern age - toilets, safe stairs, underfloor heating etc. Every job has taken hours, days, weeks to complete but visitors wouldn’t know it. It’s a true tribute to old fashioned craftsmanship.”
Michael Dixon, St Michael’s Ward Councillor, said: “It was a great pleasure to join a recent tour of Holy Trinity Church with the Mayor and Mayoress, plus fellow East Area Councillors. We saw for ourselves the extensive restorative work that has taken place, with the many people involved working very hard.”