See inside the new bar at Sunderland’s The Fire Station ahead of opening

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Sunderland’s newest bar looks smoking hot!

The Engine Room is preparing to pull its first pints early next week when it opens its doors for business as part of the city’s new culture hub.

The Engine Room, Manager Simon Munro

The Engine Room, Manager Simon Munro

Rising from the ashes of the Old Fire Station off High Street West, which lay derelict for 22 years, The Engine Room is the ground floor bar and bistro that forms part of The Fire Station.

It’s the first phase of the culture hot spot to open its doors, with the Dance City studios, rehearsal space and heritage centre opening later this month.

Doffing its cap to the site’s history as the main fire station for Sunderland, the new bar retains many of the original features, including the names on the tiles of former firefighters at the old station. Artefacts from Fulwell Fire Station, which closed when operations moved to Marley Park, have also been incorporated in the interiors including its signage. Even the old brass pole was saved but, despite attempts, couldn’t be secured safely in the pub.

The new bar, which has created up to 30 jobs, is operated by Pub Culture Ltd, on behalf of owners The Mac Trust, and is a sister site to neighbouring pubs The Dun Cow and The Peacock.

The Engine Room, at the Fire Station

The Engine Room, at the Fire Station

Among those to have a sneak peek of The Engine Room were the City of Culture judges who visited the venue as part of their tour of the city yesterday.

Joe Smith, operations director at Pub Culture, said: “We’ve worked round the clock to get The Engine Room ready for the judges, but we made it comfortably.

“We’ve kept as much of the original features as we could and there’s lots of quirky features to it. I’ve worked in the pub trade for 44 years and have overseen around 200 refurbs and I have to say this is the best. There isn’t anything else like this in Sunderland, it’s up there with the standard of bars you’d see in Manchester and London. When people see it I think they’re going to be impressed, this is a pub they can be really proud of.”

Joe says when it came to naming the bar it was a no-brainer.

He explained: “The bar is actually in the old engine room where the fire engines would once be parked and, before that, the horses and carts, so it’s not a new name, it’s calling it what it is.”

As well as specialising in craft and cask ales, like its sister sites, The Engine Room will be serving pub classic food such as home made pizzas.

Its drinks offering includes 11 lagers and ciders on draught, including Rekorderlig, and 10 hand pulls, which will offer locally-brewed ales on rotation, including Double Maxim and a specially-made Fire Station brew.

Around £150,000 has been spent on the kitchen alone which, as well as providing the pub’s food, will act as a training academy for future chefs overseen by chef principal Kieran Burke.

Future plans at the site, which has its own PA system, also include open mic nights, a jazz club, comedy club and acoustic night.

Joe said: “We want this to be a bar for everyone in Sunderland, somewhere they can just pop in for a pint and a bowl of chips, or a meal, or some live music.”

Though The Engine Room is due to open next week, the rest of The Fire Station development will be launched with a free outdoor pyrotechnic performance, called Fireflight, which takes place on November 23, the same night as the Christmas lights switch on.

The fire finale will begin at 6.40pm in front of The Fire Station and feature local dancers and a five-minute long pyrotechnic display.

The performance is free, but tickets will be available closer to the time.

The Engine Room, the former Fire Station

The Engine Room, the former Fire Station