Blacks Corner team plan to maintain history of landmark Seaburn tram shelter as part of transformation

Plans are on track to maintain the history of a landmark tram shelter as part of its transformation.
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Earlier this year, it was announced that Blacks Corner in East Boldon is working up plans to transform Seaburn’s former tram shelter into a restaurant.

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But the owners of Blacks Corner, which has had much success as a wine, cheese and charcuterie bar, say they are keen to work alongside residents to maintain the site's heritage.

Plans are taking shape for the tram shelterPlans are taking shape for the tram shelter
Plans are taking shape for the tram shelter

More plans will be unveiled soon, but they say they are aiming to create a neighbourhood restaurant, which will still have some free covered seating to ensure passers by can still take shelter at the site.

Jonathan Dryden, co-founder of Blacks Corner, said: “Our ethos is to create the ‘third place’ for people to spend time. First there is home, then there’s work, then – for us – we want Blacks Corner to be that third place, where people come together with friends, family and colleagues and relax.

“We feel so privileged to be custodians of this historic building – a place that has marked the start and end of so many people’s journeys when the trams operated. We’re so excited to bring a different kind of hustle and bustle within the frame of this building – to once again see it become a meeting place and a place that is focused on community too."

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The team at Blacks Corner is using its building partnership, End Developments, to work up proposals for the building, with the support of a conservation architect and an archaeologist who is ‘capturing every tiny detail’ of the building to ensure that features are framed appropriately in the new designs for the space.

The team at Blacks CornerThe team at Blacks Corner
The team at Blacks Corner

“Ethically and morally, we have a huge responsibility to get this right,” added Jonathan. “We’ve spent a huge amount of time already visiting similar developments and studying heritage buildings like this, and ensuring we restore this beautifully, ensuring it maintains a strong sense of history, while giving it a new lease of life that will cement it as an invested community asset for decades to come.

“We will make all our progress public as a page on our website so anyone interested can watch the restoration as it happens and will be able to explore the building through detailed photogrammetry (3D photographs) before, during and after restoration works.”

Chris Lowden co-founder of Blacks Corner added that the building’s restoration and design will be inspired by the past, working with locals and using resources such as Sunderland Antiquarian Society to find old photos that show original details that have been lost over time, such as the planted areas and white picket fencing that once surrounded the Tram Shelter.

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The Tram Shelter is one of three historic buildings being revamped as part of a £850,000 investment from Sunderland City Council and The Coastal Communities Fund, which also includes the transformation of the old toilet block in Roker into a Tin of Sardines gin bar and the old shelter in Seaburn promenade becoming a seafood restaurant.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member at Sunderland City Council, said he was excited to see plans move forward.

He said: “We could not have found a better partner in Blacks to ensure that this important building becomes the jewel in the crown of our beautiful seaside.

“Seaburn is naturally beautiful, but by ensuring that old buildings that have limited contemporary use are preserved and enhanced, we can create an even more attractive seaside that appeals to a range of visitors as well as providing a community focal point for Sunderland residents. The team at Blacks are hugely sympathetic to the history of this building and have a commitment to creating a community hub. We’re looking forward to seeing their plans.”

The income from the lease – which was agreed with the support of Sunderland based commercial property surveyors, Lofthouse and Partners – will support the Sunderland Seafront Trust, which operates the Roker Pier and Lighthouse tours, and the new income will help it to organise a range of seafront events and activities.

The conversion of the old heritage building is part of a wider programme of transformation at Seaburn and Roker, with Sunderland City Council having spent more than £10m on seafront regeneration and improvements over recent years. The programme includes award-winning environmental and street-scene enhancements helping attract developments such as at Seaburn Stack, the Seaburn Inn and a host of new businesses to Marine Walk. It’s a key part of the wider transformation of the city, including the city centre, which is attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into Riverside Sunderland.

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