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Doxford House: Historic mansion of Sunderland shipbuilding family set to become family home once more

Doxford House by John Coates
Doxford House by John Coates
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HISTORY is repeating as a decaying historic mansion is set to be returned to a family home.

Sunderland’s Doxford House, pictured, was once the home of the city’s ship building dynasties, before becoming student accommodation and a drug rehabilitation centre.

However, the arson-hit mansion house in Silksworth fell into ruin and became a target for thieves and vandals.

Now planning permission has been granted to turn the clock back at the Grade II-listed building.

Sunderland City Council’s south planning committee approved a change of use application to revert Doxford House to a single dwelling.

Councillors praised the plans, which will retain the house’s unusual 19th century grotto.

Coun Bob Price, from Millfield ward, said: “It makes a change to have a building changed back to single use from multiple occupancy, rather than the other way round.

“It will hopefully save the building for the future.”

The new owners were also given the go-ahead to create an extension housing a swimming pool and roof terrace, as well as setting up a water feature outside and installing new gates in Warden Law Lane.

The application came from businessman Robert Thorton.

The Glaswegian telecommunications boss made Sunderland his home, after moving to the city in 2003.

He said: “It is in a bad way. There is not a ceiling left in the building.

“We bought it because we loved the building.

“We will be retaining all the original features that are left.”

Originally called Silksworth House, the building dates back to the 18th century.

Proposals to turn it into luxury apartments and a boutique hotel failed and it was put on the English Heritage “At Risk” register.

The family have set up a Facebook page Doxford House, dedicated to keeping people informed about the house’s transformation.