See inside Sunderland Fire Station as new venue helps set city’s cultural scene alight

The stage is all set for action as Sunderland Fire Station launches its debut weekend, igniting excitement across the city.

The transformation of the former fire house into an £11m auditorium offering a platform to local and international talents was unveiled on Friday night, as the venue set out its stall with performances by home-grown stars Kathryn Tickell and The Darkening plus The Lake Poets’ Martin Longstaff.

Ahead of the big reveal, The Chronicle was given a preview of what’s in store at the city‘s newest cultural venue which will be following up from Friday’s launch with a packed programme of events ranging from music and drama to dance and comedy.

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Its director Tamsin Austin said it has been a long time in coming but that The Fire Station is now at the heart of the “passion project” which is seeing the cultural redevelopment of the area.

The Fire Station in Sunderland is at the centre of a cultural renaissance
The Fire Station in Sunderland is at the centre of a cultural renaissance
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

The ambitious venue’s new concert hall, which can accommodate 550 people seated or 800 standing, has been designed by Jason Flanagan – of architects Flanagan Lawrence – who also designed Sage Gateshead so its audiences can no doubt expect top-notch acoustics.

And the hope it that it will also help to attract artists and put Sunderland on the touring map, said Tamsin.

The auditorium can accommodate 800 people standing or 550 seated
The auditorium can accommodate 800 people standing or 550 seated
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

It is anticipated that The Fire Station, part of a total £18m redevelopment, will go on to attract more than 100,000 visitors a year, bringing a huge boost to the local economy.

The original 1907 fire station it occupies – which closed in the 1990s – now also houses The Engine Room bar and restaurant as well as a heritage centre and studios for theatre, dance and music.

Striking-looking venue The Fire Station has a packed programme of events coming up
Striking-looking venue The Fire Station has a packed programme of events coming up
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

The venture is led by the Sunderland Music Arts and Culture Trust, together with Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Culture which has called it “probably the largest current cultural development in a post-industrial UK city centre”.

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Chronicle Live – Sunderland