The story of an amazing replica house reflecting Sunderland’s history, which is looking for a new home

Can you give a home to a home?

By Sue Kirby
Friday, 22 March, 2019, 08:07

This amazing replica of a Sunderland house was a labour of love for Sunderland’s Wally Nanson – but now it needs a new address.

When the former HGV driver retired through ill health at 63, he decided to take up making a dolls house as a hobby and a few years later started on the replica of the Roker Avenue home he lived in with his family for almost 40 years.

Wally Nanson next to the model house he made as replica of his former Roker Avenue home. Picture by FRANK REID

However, he and wife Olive, 73, have now moved to a smaller home in the city’s Fairlands East and there’s no room for the structure.

Friends have pursuaded Wally that the model reflects a piece of Sunderland’s history, with Roker Avenue dating back more than 130 years, and should go somewhere for residents to enjoy.

The 76-year-old said: “I was originally going to build a normal dolls house, but I just got carried away with it all. I started doing more and more in decorating it.

“I have tried to keep it as much like the house as possible, it even has working lights.

The detail on the outside of a replica house made by Wally Nanson of his former Roker Avenue home. Picture by FRANK REID

“I always loved model making even when I was a young kid, so I really enjoyed working on it.”

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Dad-of-one Wally, said when they lived in Roker Avenue there was so much space that he had a hobby room all to himself, but now the beloved wooden house has nowhere to live.

He said: “I have nowhere to put it now. It’s too big to just stand somewhere, so at the moment it is being kept in the garage.”

Although it will be difficult to part with the model, the pensioner says he would rather see it in a new place where people can enjoy it.

Wally said: “I have to keep it covered up because I don’t want dust getting into it, so at the moment no one ever sees it and it is a bit of a shame.”

When Wally and Olive moved into the house in Roker Avenue in 1976 it already had an extension built on the back, so Wally incorporated that into the model.

Later the couple made the home into two flats with themselves living upstairs and Wally’s parents downstairs.

However, after his parents died, Wally converted the property back into one big house.

Anyone who thinks they have the perfect place for the replica house to live, should contact Wally on 07476 925246.