See inside the renovated Hylton Castle ahead of its opening to the public
After years of campaigning and an investment of £4.2million, Hylton Castle will finally open its doors as a community and events space in the coming weeks.
Painstaking work to renovate the historic structure began in autumn 2017 after years of campaigning by residents to put the castle at the heart of community life.
Work at the landmark site is now in the final stages and, if all goes to plan, the castle should be open to the public from late July/early August.
Once a neglected shell, it will now house a cafe as well as learning, event and exhibition spaces, with community-based training, learning and volunteering at the heart of the project.
The £4.2million project is a partnership between Castle in the Community and Sunderland City Council, funded by the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council's cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “We are working with a 14th Century building which, as you can imagine, has thrown some curve balls, but we are very much on track for completion.
“It’s been a long journey to get here, but it’s marvellous to see glass in the windows and a roof in place. It’s been a difficult process as we’ve essentially put a building within a building and there’s been a lot of hurdles along the way, but we’ve waited 25 years, so what’s a few more weeks?”
The people of Hylton Castle estate and beyond have been very much involved in the castle project, from litter picks, to open days and a Civil War reenactment weekend.
Coun Doris MacKnight, of Castle Ward, has gone from playing in the castle’s grounds as a child to becoming a key figure in the campaign to bring it back to life.
She said: “What other ward can say they have a castle? Even before the renovation work began we’ve always been so proud to have this landmark.”
Once open, Hylton Castle is set to be a regional asset, which will attract people from across the region with its functions, learning sessions and its spectacular rooftop views.