Appeal for artefacts to create lasting tribute to Sunderland’s fire service

The Old Fire Station in years gone by
The Old Fire Station in years gone by
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Sunderland’s newest cultural venue is appealing for help in creating a permanent tribute to the fire service in the city.

Work has already begun on the £3.5m transformation of the Old Fire Station in High Street West which, after standing empty for 22 years, will house a restaurant, drama studio, dance studio and heritage centre, thanks to £2.4million of Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF).

Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust won the funding as part of its drive to create a cultural quarter centred around the 110-year-old building.

Now they need Echo readers help for the heritage area of the building which will pay homage to the site’s history.

Helen Green, director of The Fire Station, said: “Work is well underway and we’re excited about what an important addition the building will be to the city’s arts sector. However, we need help with finding content for the heritage area of the new building, which I believe will be a real asset to The Fire Station and an important tribute to people who were prepared to put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. It’s obviously the perfect place to tell the story of firefighting in Sunderland.

“We’re after photos, old videos, artefacts, diaries, logbooks or anything that features the Fire Station in particular, and the fire service generally in Sunderland. We’re also interested in compiling stories and anecdotes on audio so we can feature these too in the permanent exhibition. We hope we’ll get firefighters coming forward with stories and tales that we’ll then record.”

The heritage centre will be on the second floor of the new building and the exhibition will be free to visitors.

Items can be donated or loaned to The Fire Station and will be kept in Perspex display units. However, the room will not be climate controlled.

Helen continued: “We’ve already had some interesting old photographs donated by a lady whose father and grandfather both worked from the High Street West station, but we’re sure there are a lot more items – and memories – out there.

“We’re also on the look-out for retired firefighters who might be interested in helping us, on a voluntary basis, with the exhibition or helping to guide people through the exhibition,” she added.

Anyone who has any material they would like to donate or loan to The Fire Station can contact Helen on helen.green@mactrust.org.uk

The Fire Station is phase two of the MAC Trust’s plans to create a £10million cultural quarter in this area of the city centre. Phase one was the acquisition of and restoration of the Dun Cow,

The third phase involves building a 400-seater auditorium between the Dun Cow and The Fire Station, which was built in 1907. Planning permission for the new auditorium was granted by Sunderland Council last week.