The Cultural Heart of the City

The Fire Station is the corner stone development in the cultural transformation of this part of Sunderland City Centre; re-establishing the area’s previous importance as the Edwardian heart and soul of the city. 

The renaissance of this cultural quarter is being achieved through a number of important milestones. 

The first was the award-winning renovation of the historic Dun Cow pub, a Grade II listed building adjacent to the Fire Station and set in the shadow of Sunderland’s historic Empire Theatre. 

The second phase was the reopening of the Fire Station. 

The third important development was the restoration of The Peacock pub, which was reopened under the management of The Futureheads frontman Barry Hyde and musician Dan Donnelly in 2019. Housed in one of the finest historic buildings in the city, the 1901 Grade II listed building also includes a 220 capacity music venue upstairs. 

The next phase is the opening of the Fire Station’s new performance venue in late 2021, which will complement its magnificent neighbour, Sunderland Empire Theatre. Opened by Vesta Tilley in 1907, Sunderland Empire Theatre is the crown jewel of the city’s cultural venues. It has seen the most notable names in performance history grace its stage throughout the last hundred years, and with a 2200 capacity, is the only venue in the North East to regularly attract large scale productions from London’s West End. 

Across the road to the Fire Station and Empire Theatre, the Town Park next to the historic Grade II listed Sunderland Minster has been completely redeveloped as part of the Bishopwearmouth Townscape Heritage Scheme, (which has also seen repair works undertaken on the historic Dun Cow and Peacock pubs). 

A number of independent and unique food and drink offers have also opened to add to the growing excitement and energy in this area, including Mexico 70, No2 Church Lane and The Little Shop. 

The developments in the cultural quarter connect to the new Riverside Sunderland. Heralded as the most ambitious city centre regeneration project in the UK today, Riverside Sunderland will transform 32-hectares on and around the former Vaux site in the heart of the city into a dynamic, carbon-neutral urban quarter with offices, hotels, restaurants, bars and residencies, and connecting nearby Keel Square, the soon-to-open City Hall and eagerly anticipated Culture House, with the Fire Station and cultural quarter. Read more about Riverside Sunderland here

An Artist’s Impression of City Centre / Riverside Development