Fight to save historic Sunderland shipyard building from the bulldozers

A petition has been launched in a bid to save a piece of Wearside history from the bulldozers.

Wednesday, 25th October 2017, 8:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:46 am
Former Doxford Shipyard gatehouse.

The Doxford Shipyard Gateway needs to be demolished to make way for the city’s new dual carriageway.

Plans are in place to relocate the arches and gates themselves, but the building is in such a bad state of repair Sunderland City Council says it cannot justify the amount of tax payers’ money it would take to regenerate and relocate it.

A facebook page and petition, Save Doxford’s West Gateway, has been set up by concerned residents who don’t want to see the building lost forever.

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One supporter, Meg Hartford, said: “My great-great-great-great-grandmother was a Doxford.

“It is important to my mind because this is the gateway the shipyard workers went to work through. “The Queen Mother passed through there, King George VI, Prince Charles –a lot of famous people have passed through it when they went to launch ships.

“They have already got a budget to rebuild part of it. Why not relocate the whole thing to the Keel Line and use it as a shipbuilding heritage centre? It is not a large building. It would not need a lot of money and it would bring a lot of people in.”

Another campaigner, Anthony Renton, said: “I went to the yard in 2014 and I visited the gatehouse then.

“They are planning to relocate the gates and the archways but not the rest because it is too far gone. But I have been to the building and it is not.

“It is upsetting nobody is really interested in saving the building. They are saying they will take the gateway and set it somewhere – it is going to be in the middle of a dual carriageway. Who is going to see it?”

Coun Michael Mordey, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for City Services, said: “The city council is very aware of our shipbuilding heritage and how proud people are of it.

“Discussions with the Doxford Engine Friends Association about the Doxford West Gateway have been on-going since 2015.”

Coun Mordey said it is recognised as having local heritage interest, but is in a very poor condition.

He said: “This poor condition makes it extremely difficult to justify a major capital outlay of council tax payers’ money.

“However, in recognising the historical significance of the site, as part of the SSTC planning application, the council has set out plans for re-locating the Doxford arches and gates.

“If individuals or groups want to come forward with realisable plans and funding for re-locating not just the arches and gates, but the entire building, the council would offer its support for their endeavours.”