THE jewels in the crown of Sunderland’s Heritage Action Zone are throwing open their doors to the public later this month as part of the annual Heritage Open Days.

The Heritage Action Zone was set up in 2017 to breathe new life into the area around Sunderland’s historic Fawcett Street and Old Sunderland which takes in High Street East and High Street West.

It was the first in the North East and one of only ten in the country to secure Heritage Action Zone status (HAZ) status from Historic England.

Two years on it is making significant progress researching and restoring key historic buildings within the city centre.

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “We are very lucky to have some amazing historic buildings in our Heritage Action Zone and this is a brilliant opportunity for people to take a closer look at buildings they may be aware of but have never been inside.”

Kate Wilson from Historic England in the North East, said: “It’s exciting to see so many historically important buildings in the Heritage Action Zone being opened to the public. Each one of them tells part of the fascinating story of Sunderland’s past.”

Among the Heritage Action Zone treasures people will be able to enjoy as part of the Heritage Open Days are:

Queen Street Masonic Hall, Queen Street East SR1 2BB
Built in 1785, this Grade I listed building is the oldest purpose-built Masonic Temple in the world and still has virtually all of its original features.
Open Mon 16 – Sat 21 September 10.00 – 14.00

Holy Trinity Church, Church Street East SR1 2BB (Hard Hat tours)
This first opened in 1719 as the parish church for the newly created parish of Sunderland, and is currently undergoing restoration by the Churches Conservation Trust to bring it back into use as a cultural venue that will attract visitors from across the region.
Open Sat 14 September 10.30 – 15.00

The Donnison School Heritage and Education Centre, Church Walk SR1 2BJ (adjacent to Holy Trinity)
A rare early charity school, established for 36 poor girls, this includes a Georgian schoolroom built in 1798 and a Headmistress house (1827). Heritage Open day visitors can enjoy the outside walled garden and meet Elizabeth Donnison, benefactor and educational visionary from 1777.
Open: Thur 19–Sun 15 September: 10.30–15.30 | Book by e-mail: [email protected] |
Book online:

Sunderland Maritime Heritage, 2 Church Street East SR1 2BB (near Holy
Trinity Church)
The chance to see traditional shipbuilding skills and techniques
in a busy and active boatyard and for children and adults to have a go at traditional boat building activities such as caulking, copper roving, knots and splicing.
Open: Fri 13 and Fri 20 September: 10.00–16.00, Sat 14 September 10.00–14.00 and Sat 21 September: 10.00–12.00

170 High Street West – Coffee & Conversations, 170 High Street West SR1 1UP
Originally home to the first Binns store in Sunderland, and more recently home to Pop Recs, this is the chance to see this building before it closes for further restoration works. Enjoy a coffee, share memories, and find out about the future plans for the buildings as well as the wider Heritage Action Zone.
Open: Mon 16–Sat 21 September: 10.00–14.00

Mini-manifestos at 170 High Street West, 170 High Street West SR1 1UP Inspired by the theme of People Power, this is a hands-on session
for mini-activists with the opportunity to hear stories of Sunderland’s own Rebel Girls and design your own placards, badges and manifestos.
Open: Sat 14 September: 10.30–15.00

A History of the High Street, 170 High Street West SR1 1UP
An illustrated talk on the changing character of Sunderland’s high streets, highlighting the architectural and historic interest of the city centre’s heritage assets.
When: Monday 16 September 11.00-12.00

For more information about these and other historic Sunderland buildings which are open as part of the Heritage Open days programme visit:

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