Though the Empire is the sole surviving theatre of this neighbourhood, there are two outstanding buildings of leisure in its immediate vicinity that survive from this Edwardian age. The remarkable Dun Cow public house and Londonderry Hotel are amongst the finest examples of Edwardian Baroque pub architecture in Britain. Dating from 1901-02, they are, like the Empire, emblems of Sunderland’s Edwardian growth and confidence.
The Londonderry Hotel, designed by Sunderland architect Hugh Taylor Decimus Hedley replaced an earlier pub of that name and commemorates the Irish-titled Marquess of Londonderry, a coal owner who dominated much of the coal trade around Sunderland in the nineteenth century. It is a reminder of one of a number of important industries that brought wealth to this town.
The Londonderry is one of several well-known Sunderland landmarks that lie within the site surrounding the old Fire Station. It has a distinct triangular shape that results from its construction within an angular-shaped piece of land just across the High Street to the east of the fire station. Built from blocks of the attractive, finely-dressed ashlar stone, the pub’s Baroque features include two distinct copper-domed towers that echo the style of the nearby Empire and Dun Cow that are across the street only yards to the west. Interestingly, the Londonderry stands in a transitional location separating the retail-dominated end of Sunderland’s High Street to the east from the quieter and more village-like western terminus of the street that is the home to the Empire and Sunderland’s beautiful Minster church.
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