June 2014 - Purchase of the Dun Cow completed and refurbishment begins
Oct 2014 - Reopening of the Downstairs Bar of the Dun Cow with the Edwardian Back Bar restored to its original grandeur
Nov 2014 - Reopening of the Upstairs Bar and Function Rooms of the Dun Cow, fully restored and refurbished
Dec 2014 Announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund of £2.4millon grant to help restore the Old Fire Station. Further support from Sunderland City Council and the MAC Trust will ensure the £3m redevelopment into an Arts and Music Hub will go ahead.
April 2016 The Dun Cow steals the show at Pub Design Awards
The Dun Cow in Sunderland's city centre scooped two awards in the National Pub Design Awards 2015 announced today, which are run by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in association with Historic England and the Victorian Society.
It was crowned the winner in both the Refurbishment and Conservation categories, author of the Judges Report, Professor Steven Parissien, said: "CAMRA has been at the forefront of initiatives to protect our best pubs from demolition or inappropriate conversion. Now the latest Pub Design Award winners show that there's lots of life left in this much-loved national treasure. These awards boast the most diverse and inspirational range of pub buildings we've judged in the history of the competition."
The Dun Cow is a Grade II-listed building, built as a gin palace in 1901, which has been rejuvenated and restored to its former grandeur as part of a new cultural quarter for Sunderland. Its new owner, the Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, brought in Camerons Brewery to reopen the pub as one of its managed houses. Fine Edwardian features have been superbly conserved as part of a £300,000 restoration, and its copper-domed tower is a powerful symbol of Sunderland's rebirth.
The sandstone exterior has been treated in an exemplary manner, while the interior – with its outstanding woodwork (including the stunningly ornate backbar), impressive plaster ceiling and wonderful stained and etched glass – has been painstakingly returned to its Edwardian magnificence.
July 2016 The Londonderry, a magnificent Grade 2 listed public house, is acquired as part of the Music, Arts and Culture Quarter redevelopment
March 2017 Sunderland Council grant planning permission for the new £8.2m
venue and Arts Council England (ACE) award a £6m grant to the Sunderland
Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust towards the cost of the building. Construction
work will begin later this year with the multi-use auditorium opening in 2019.
The new venue will be located at the heart of the city’s Music Arts and Cultural
Quarter in central Sunderland. The site, at Garden Place and Dun Cow Street, is
adjacent to the Fire Station, currently being redeveloped as a £3.6m arts and culture
centre, with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Together the new auditorium and the renovated Fire Station will provide an
integrated centre for the performing arts that will sit next to, and very much
complement, the hugely successful Sunderland Empire. While on a smaller scale
than the Empire, it will present an exciting programme of music, dance, drama and
The venue will have retractable seating for 450 and will also be able to host 700
people standing. There will also be an outdoor stage and open area music and
performance space to the rear of the redeveloped Fire Station.
The award-winning architect behind the design of the auditorium is Jason Flanagan,
who was project director for the iconic Sage building in Gateshead and is currently
leading the Wembley Theatre scheme. His other designs include the Royal Welsh
College of Music and Drama in Cardiff and LiveWorks in Newcastle.