Sep 03 2015

Sunderland Heritage Open Days, 10-13 September

(ALMOST) 50 HISTORIC BUILDINGS AND VENUES across Sunderland are taking part in Heritage Open Days (10-13 September). 

The annual, national programme which gives people the chance of a glimpse behind the scenes in buildings, businesses or organisations was launched in 1994, and is the country’s largest free celebration of architecture, history and culture.

The Tyne and Wear programme co-ordinated by Sunderland City Council and local history volunteers in partnership with its regional local authority colleagues began fourteen years ago, and has grown in popularity to become one of the biggest in the UK.

Ryhope-Pumping-Station-SunderlandTo help promote this year’s Heritage Open Days Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly, visited Ryhope Pumping Station to join Keith Bell, Chairman of the Ryhope Engines Trust volunteer preservation group which is one of the voluntary and community sector organisations involved in organising events.

Councillor Kelly said: “The number of properties and organisations who want to get involved and events taking place continues to grow every year along with visitor numbers.

“Our community has a rich cultural heritage, and the open days provide a great reminder of that generating a lot of interest with people keen to come along and find out more and get involved with a wide range of unusual and unique activities.

“This year we have everything from a brewery open day and heritage walks through some of our oldest parks, to lending an ear for Zeppelins at the fully restored First World War Acoustic Mirror at Fulwell and visiting the Mayor’s Parlour.”

Ryhope Pumping Station was built in the 1880s to provide one of four pumping stations to meet the increasing local demand for water for both domestic and industrial use. The engineering and architectural design used are great examples of the latest technology and construction techniques available at the time.

It closed in 1967 but the engines, buildings and grounds remained untouched until 1970 when restoration became a possibility.

Chairman of Ryhope Engines Trust, Keith Bell said: “We were given an opportunity to restore the site working with the Sunderland Archaeology Group and the Sunderland and South Shields Water Company taken over Northumbria Water who own it.

“The Victorian engines worked for a hundred years and we have successfully maintained and run them for the last 45 years which is quite an impressive record for a group of dedicated volunteers

“Restoration work took four years to complete, with the maintenance of the machinery and running of the working museum and tea-rooms are all carried out by our small group of volunteers. We are open most weekends and bank-holidays and the Heritage Open Days provide a great, annual opportunity to raise public awareness of what we and other voluntary groups are doing across the region to help keep our cultural heritage alive.”

Other venues, events and activities in Sunderland include; 

  • North East Land, Sea and Air Museum
  • Elba Park Heritage Walk
  • Holy Trinity Church ‘ Canny Space’
  • Ashbrooke and the 50th Division on the Western Front in 1915
  • Eddie Chapman – North East Double Agent (talk by Bernard Hope)

(For more info on Heritage Open Days in Tyne and Wear please visit  ​ )

This year’s Heritage Open Days in Tyne and Wear is supported by Port of Tyne, the Barbour Foundation and Primary Times Magazine.

​​​Executive Officer for the Port of Tyne, Andrew Moffat said: “We are once again proud to be supporting the annual cultural trail across Tyne and Wear.

“It is very special to be involved with hundreds of heritage events and site openings across the region, which allows people and their families to get in free to a huge range of both unusual and familiar places.”


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