Storm Doris damages clock face of historic Sunderland building

Mackie's Corner clock damage caused by high winds.
Mackie's Corner clock damage caused by high winds.

A piece of Sunderland’s history hangs in the balance after Storm Doris’ winds whipped Wearside.

A clock face on Mackie’s Corner, in the city centre’s High Street West, has been left damaged following the strong winds and downpour which have battered Wearside today.

Martin O'Neill, of Sweet Home Alabama, outside his former shop at Mackie's Corner.

Martin O'Neill, of Sweet Home Alabama, outside his former shop at Mackie's Corner.

The damaged section was spotted by Martin O’Neill, who once ran his Sweet Home Alabama shop from the building, and raised concerns over the state of it.

He moved out five years ago as it was marketed for redevelopment, but stands empty while a developer is sought for the building.

Mr O’Neill fears for the future of the clock, which was installed in the dome a few years after the building was completed in 1845.

The clock itself plays a part in the city’s history as it was once customary to attempt to run the length of Fawcett Street, from the corner of Mackie’s Corner to the gas offices, in the time it took to strike 12.

It would be a shame for somebody to say they plan to do something with it to find they have to take it down.

Martin O’Neill

The building was so well loved by Sunderland emigrants who moved to Australia they created their own duplicate version of it in Sydney, with the corner spot taking its name from Robert Mackie, a hatter, who moved in following the completion of construction in 1850.

“The wind has damaged the face and it’s a potential danger, because if it comes down it could hit somebody,” said Mr O’Neill.

“It would be a shame for somebody to say they plan to do something with it to find they have to take it down.

“I loved being in that building, I would still be in that building if I could, because it’s great.

Mackie's Corner, High Street West and fawcett Street, Sunderland, pictured before it was borded up for redevelopment.

Mackie's Corner, High Street West and fawcett Street, Sunderland, pictured before it was borded up for redevelopment.

“The people of Sunderland love it and we can’t let it go.”

Graham Gowland, is executive director of property at Gentoo Group, which owns Mackie’s Corner, which is part of the Hutchinson’s Building.

He said: “We are aware of the damage to the clock face and we have sent staff to investigate and make safe.”

The building has sparked concern among residents and businesses because of its dilapidated state, with a section of pavement cordoned off for the last few years.

Mackie's Corner pictured in March 1961 in a photograph held by Sunderland Antiquarians.

Mackie's Corner pictured in March 1961 in a photograph held by Sunderland Antiquarians.

Gentoo bought the building in 2007 as part of its commitment to regenerating the city alongside a number of partners.

It has had a “number of conversations” with potentially interested parties in the hope the area can be redeveloped.

It has also said it plans to carry out repairs to its roof.