Sunderland's historic Doxford gatehouse to be gone within weeks

Demolition has begun on the historic gateway to the former Doxford shipyard in Pallion – with its arch and gate set to be relocated as a monument to Sunderland’s proud shipbuilding history.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 11:45 am
Demolition of the 116 year-old Doxford gatehouse has begun. Behind the green and white fencing, asbestos is being removed.

The structure, which dates back to 1903, is a reminder of Sunderland's glorious shipbuilding heritage and campaigners had hoped the whole structure could be saved.

But it will be levelled as part of work to create a continuous dual carriageway between the A19 and the Port of Sunderland.

Sunderland City Council will preserve the gateway's arches and iron gates, relocating them nearby in 2021.

Campaigners say the Doxford gatehouse could have been restored to look as it did here in 1921.

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But the authority says it cannot justify the expense of restoring the whole building and that it is too dilapidated to save.

Campaign group Save Doxford's West Gateway had hoped the building could be restored to its former glory, without affecting the new road.

In July they were given public backing by Richard Doxford, great-grandson of the yard's founder Sir William Doxford.

But in an August 28 email to the group, the council confirmed: "The demolition of the gatehouse started on 5 August with the removal of the asbestos. The gates were wrapped to seal the building while the asbestos was removed.

Demolition of the 1903 Doxford gatehouse has begun. This is what the west face looks like now.

"The asbestos removal is due for completion next week (w/c 2 Sept). Following this the remainder of the building is programmed for removal w/c 9th September."

When the asbestos is gone, demolition will start with the roof. Then the arches will be removed and put into storage.

The campaigners are angry with the decision and say they had not been kept informed of events.

Council leader, Graeme Miller, said: "This council has always been very aware of our heritage and how proud people are of it.

Demolition of the 116 year-old Doxford gatehouse has begun with the removal of asbestos.

“When it came to commemorating our shipbuilding heritage, this is exactly what we did with our award winning Keel Square and its keel line.

“It was agreed that, although the building and brickwork was in a dilapidated condition, its arch and gates could be restored and re-located alongside the new dual carriageway as public art and a memorial to our shipbuilding heritage.