Fire at historic Sunderland school building confirmed as suspected arson

A fire which tore through a former Sunderland school building is being investigated as a suspected arson attack.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:07 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 10:50 am

Northumbria Police confirmed officers are treating the blaze at the old Simpson Street School – which was protected as a Grade II-listed building in 1994 – as malicious.

Emergency Services were called to the incident at around 6pm on Tuesday, January 28, after reports the Deptford site was spotted alight.

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The former school site has been left damaged by fire.

Following the blaze, which left the roof of the Gothic-style building wrecked, Sunderland City Council said it was hopeful it would be able to save a deal to sell the site with a view to regenerating the area.

Assessments of the damage were due to take place in the days after the fire and while checks continue, Northumbria Police hope anyone with information about the fire will come forward.

A force spokesperson said: “Police are treating the cause of the blaze as suspected arson.

The aftermath of the former school fire aftermath, in Ayre's Quay Sunderland.

“No arrests have been made, and anyone with info is asked to call 101 quoting reference 922 280120.”

It went on to be known as The Laing Church of England School and later became Simpson Street Boys School, with a separate department for girls called Simpson Street Girls Board School in 1884, once the school came under the control of Sunderland School Board.

In 1904, responsibility passed from School Boards to Local Education Authorities and the schools became Simpson Street Boys’ and Girls’ Council Schools.

It eventually closed in July 1961, to make way for an industrial development.

Since then it has been used to host artists’ workshops.