Echo and signed strip featured among time capsule items at new Sunderland venue

Musicians Marty Longstaff and Beccy Young with Helen Green and Tom Capeling
Musicians Marty Longstaff and Beccy Young with Helen Green and Tom Capeling
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A copy of the Sunderland Echo, a signed SAFC shirt and tracks from some of the city’s top musicians are among the time capsule items being buried in the foundations of Wearside’s new cultural venue.

Attending the burying of the capsule at the Old Fire Station off High Street West were singer songwriters Marty Longstaff and Beccy Young, representing the future of the site as it’s turned into a multi-purpose venue, while outgoing Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling represented its proud past.

The building, which had stood derelict for more than 20 years, is being redeveloped as a £3.6m arts and culture centre, with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Due to reopen in the autumn, the 110-year-old building is being revamped into a restaurant, cafe, heritage centre and dance and drama studios.

Marty and Beccy are hoping to perform or lead workshops at the venue, while Tom worked at the Fire Station during his 29 years as a firefighter.

Sunderland-born Tom, who retires from his role at the end of this month, said: “I was never stationed here, but I worked from here and knew most, if not all of

the lads who were here when the station closed.

“It was a busy, happy station right at the heart of the city centre. It’s great to see the building has such a bright future, and I wish everyone involved with the project all the best.”

Helen Green, director of the Fire Station, added: “The time capsule links the Fire Station’s past, present and future. Included in the items we’ve buried were a

programme from the SAFC vs Burnley game and a signed SAFC shirt; a programme from The Full Monty which was on at the Empire; information about the city’s bid to

become City of Culture 2021; prospectuses from the University of Sunderland and Sunderland College and some information about the Fire Service and the Fire Station that Tom kindly provided. We also buried an iPod with some music from Sunderland’s current vibrant music scene and a Sunderland Echo so future folk can

read what was happening in Sunderland in Spring 2017.

“Hopefully future generations will be able to see what a pivotal development the Fire Station was in the city’s evolution into a vibrant cultural city.

“The MAC Quarter will transform Sunderland’s city centre and we’re excited about what an important addition the building will be to the city’s arts sector.”

The Fire Station development is the second stage of Sunderland Music Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust’s transformation of the area. The first phase was the award-winning renovation of the historic Dun Cow pub, and the third stage will be the renovation of the Londonderry pub, which started last week.

The fourth stage of the MAC’s cultural quarter will be the construction of a new £8.2m auditorium for music, dance and drama. Arts Council England awarded £6m towards the cost of the work, which will begin later this year and be finished in 2019.