Blacks Corner to breathe new life into Seaburn seafront heritage building

September 14, 2021

Blacks Corner to breathe new life into Seaburn seafront heritage building

Plans are taking shape for the sympathetic restoration of Seaburn's Tram Shelter, after the occupier was announced in June. 

The team behind much-loved delicatessen Blacks Corner are working up plans that they hope to shape alongside the local community, that will see the seaside heritage building converted to a stunning seaside eatery.

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, and Blacks Corner - whose team includes an archeologically trained professional - will be looking to breathe new life into the structure.

The team hopes to be able to share more on their plans for the building by autumn, and work with residents to explore how they will use the space - which they hope to have the feel of a neighbourhood restaurant - to ensure it caters for their needs while still retaining some free covered seating to ensure passers-by can still use the shelter to take-cover. 

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.

With nominations for Northern Design Awards and Bar & Restaurant Design Awards under their belt, the team at Blacks is utilising 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.

"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 & 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 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 crowned the Tram Shelter. 

"A restoration of this grandeur is not new to us having restored Akeld Station into a family home in 2012.  A lot of cues will be taken from that build as a case study of how to do this right."

Celebrating local and home-grown British farm produce through its menu of cheese and charcuterie, Blacks Corner has grown a reputation for the quality of its offer, as well as its active contribution to the local community it serves in Boldon.  Blacks Corner also has a Deli and Bakehouse which is located at 1 St John Terrace, East Boldon, and an online shop (blackscorner.co.uk) which showcases hampers full of British produce, for every occasion.

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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