Delay to the opening of Sunderland's Elephant Tea Rooms as city's Local Studies Library

The opening of one of Sunderland’s most historic buildings, the Elephant Tea Rooms, as the city's Local Studies Library has been delayed, council bosses have confirmed.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 4:43 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 10:58 am

The Grade II-listed Elephant Tea Rooms on the corner of Fawcett Street and High Street West has been bought by Sunderland City Council who last year revealed plans to open a local studies library in the space.

The site was most recently used by the Royal Bank of Scotland and has stood empty since the branch closed in 2018.

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Sunderland Local History Library at the Elephant Tea Rooms.
Sunderland Local History Library at the Elephant Tea Rooms.

After buying the site, council bosses have pressed ahead with plans and are well on their way to finally welcoming the public through the doors – but have announced that there will be a delay to its official opening following system problems.

When it reopens, the building will be named Sunderland’s Local History Library @ETR, offering better access for customers than the current Fawcett Street site, while the space on the first floor will be used to deliver events and activities.

Living History North East, Regional Oral History Centre will also have a presence in the renovated building.

The Local Studies Library holds the largest collection of records and information on Sunderland, that includes photographs, maps, film, trade directories, parish registers, newspapers and more.A Sunderland City Council spokeswoman said: “We are pleased to confirm we are in the final stages of the relocation of Sunderland Local History Library.“However due to reasons beyond our control we are unable to connect the appropriate systems needed for both staff and customers, for this reason we have to delay the opening and programme of events.“We are working closely with external partners to resolve this and look forward to welcoming people through our doors in the near future, all updates will be posted on the website

Inside of the former Elephant Tea Rooms High Street West, Sunderland, before transformation work took place.
Inside the transformed Sunderland Local History Library at the Elephant Tea Rooms following renovation work.