Traditional pub aims to revive Sunderland’s cultural quarter

Chris Royal in Sam's Bar, West Sunniside, Sunderland.
Chris Royal in Sam's Bar, West Sunniside, Sunderland.
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A FOURTH-GENERATION publican is hoping his new venture will help boost an overlooked corner of the city.

Despite millions of pounds being ploughed into the regeneration of Sunniside, some businesses say they have struggled to make a success in the area dubbed “the cultural quarter.”

However, Millfield businessman Chris Royal is hoping to breathe new life into the area’s nightlife.

He’s drawing upon decades of experience in the Sunderland pub trade to transform a derelict basement in Maritime Buildings, West Sunniside, into Sam’s Bar.

To create the venue’s shabby chic, industrial-cum-vintage feel, he’s reclaimed bars, fireplaces and fittings from other pubs in the city including Oddies in Hylton Road and the Grindon Mill.

The result is a traditional pub which he feels the area is lacking.

Chris, whose great grandfather, gran and dad were all in the pub trade, said: “We wanted to create a pub that will mix in well with the other restaurants and bars here. We can see the potential the area has.

“It’s not a dance spot, this has more of a traditional, cosy pub feel. Somewhere for people to come after a meal or before they go to the cinema.”

Tens of thousands of pounds have been invested in creating Sam’s Bar, which has three rooms and a main bar area.

Chris, who named the bar after his 16-year-old son, said: “A lot of the furnishings were from pubs the family has run over the years, such as Oddies, which my dad John had for 21 years.”

The 39-year-old grew up at Oddies and went on to manage pubs himself including The Chesters, in Chester Road, The Mountain Daisy in Hylton Road and Fanning’s, in Millfield.

He said: “It’s taken us 10 months to get to this point.

“The basement had been derelict for 15 years and was a shell when we got here. There was no water, floor, ceilings or electricity.

“The first thing we had to do was sound-proof the bar, as there are flats upstairs.

“Other pubs have opened here such as Eauzone, which was across the road, but we’re more of a traditional pub, which we think is what the area needs.”

Work is still ongoing at Sam’s Bar, but it’s due to open on Friday.