Doxford shipyard archway restored to its former glory

An historic archway used for 86 years by Sunderland shipyard workers has been rebuilt and placed almost exactly where it stood.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 3:39 pm

The archway was the main entrance for workers at the legendary Doxford yard in Pallion and was built in 1903 as part of the gatehouse. Generations of Wearsiders comprising thousands of tradesmen built hordes of magnificent ships there, before the yard closed for good in 1989.

The yard itself opened in 1840 and was crucial in establishing Sunderland as one of the most important centres for shipbuilding on the planet.

A pressure group, Save Doxford's West Gateway, was formed and a campaign launched to preserve the entire gatehouse, not just the arch. This won the backing of Richard and Martha Doxford, the great-grandchildren of Sir William Doxford who established the yard.

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The Doxford archway when it was part of the gatehouse during the shipyard's heyday.

Despite this it was demolished in 2019 to make way for a continuous dual carriageway between the A19 and the Port of Sunderland, as part of the third phase of the £71 million Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC 3).

This was described as “cultural vandalism” by the pressure group. But Sunderland City Council said the building was so dilapidated that it was beyond repair.

However, the authority also said the arches would be preserved and re-sited beside the new road. That has now happened.

The restored archway was has now been officially reopened for the public to see for themselves. The road was also opened on Wednesday, November 3.

Work on the new dual carriageway beside the archway is nearing completion.

Deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Claire Rowntree, said: “Everybody is very proud of our city's shipbuilding role and the Doxford Arch and gates, with a blue plaque, are joining Keel Square and others in commemorating this heritage.

"We're in the final stages of completing the new dual-carriageway and opening the much improved link between the Northern Spire and city centre.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their patience during all the necessary works on this very important infrastructure project.

"It's important because as well as improving our connectivity, the route opens up new development opportunities and unlocks more of our city's potential for attracting further investment as we continue to make Sunderland a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant 21st century city.”

The historic archway has now been restored and re-sited.

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The historic archway has now been restored and re-sited.
A plaque has been placed on the historic gatehouse.
The archway as seen in 1930.