The varied history of Sunderland's Mowbray Hotel, from thatched cottage to coaching inn, and Irish bar

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The thatched cottage which became a prestigious Sunderland hotel

What a hotel. What a coaching inn. And what an Irish bar. And it was all found in this one Sunderland venue which had so many guises.

We're talking about the Mowbray Park Hotel which started out as a thatched cottage and had a rich and varied existence before its demolition 16 years ago.

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Philip Curtis, from Sunderland Antiquarian Society, tells us more.

Until its demolition in 2007 the Mowbray Park Hotel was the oldest hotel in Sunderland.

The Palatine in the 1930s.The Palatine in the 1930s.
The Palatine in the 1930s. | se

It started life as a thatched cottage occupied by Peggy Toward whom Toward Road is named after.

Billiards and the finest wine

By 1827 the Providence Garden Inn, later to be called the Gardeners Arms was on the site but in August 1842, following major rebuilding, the Mowbray Arms was opened to the public.

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It was a coaching inn back then with its own billiard table and was stocked with the finest quality wine and spirits.

In 1890 the hotel was rebuilt and opened that year as The Palatine Hotel. The new building boasted a coffee room, restaurant, billiard room and, what was described as ‘a number of airy and comfortable bedrooms replete with every convenience for the family and commercial visitor’.

A cat show at the Palatine in 1960.A cat show at the Palatine in 1960.
A cat show at the Palatine in 1960. | se

Masonic dinners in the banqueting hall

The hotel also included a fine banqueting hall in which all the principal public and Masonic dinners were held.

In the early 1920s the hotel underwent major renovation both inside and outside before reopening on March 1, 1927.

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Following completion of another refurbishment in 1971 the hotel’s name was changed to The Mowbray Park Hotel.

Pancake tossing at the Mowbray Hotel in 1979.Pancake tossing at the Mowbray Hotel in 1979.
Pancake tossing at the Mowbray Hotel in 1979. | se

Memories of Durty Nellys

In the 1990s the part of the hotel in Toward Road was altered into an Irish-themed public house called Durty Nellys.

It was only briefly successful but the main social centre of the city had moved westward to the Green Street/Vine Place area of the city and eventually the pub and hotel closed.

Workmen busy preparing The Wearsider lounge for opening in 1979.Workmen busy preparing The Wearsider lounge for opening in 1979.
Workmen busy preparing The Wearsider lounge for opening in 1979. | se

Thanks to Philip and the Antiquarian Society.

The society, which was founded in 1900, holds extensive archives which were amassed and donated by the people of Sunderland.

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To find out more, interested people should visit the Antiquarian Society’s Facebook page or its website which is at

You could also get along to its Heritage Centre which is open in Douro Terrace on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9.30am to 12pm.

And to apply to become a member, email [email protected]

To share your own memories of the hotels you loved in Sunderland in the past, email [email protected]

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