Work started in November 2022. Credit: via Creo

Elephant Tea Rooms restoration complete

A redevelopment designed by architect Mosedale Gillatt has concluded, with Sunderland City Council now marketing the space to businesses.

Tying into the Riverside Sunderland regeneration programme, the grade two-listed building is a neighbour to a recently-consented student accommodation project. Around 7,700 sq ft is available at the Elephant Tea Rooms.

Restoration work started in November 2022, the landmark has been undergoing external repair and enhancement works to reinstate its distinctive decoration and features, as well as installing new shopfronts.

The regeneration works have been delivered by specialist local contractor NCS and stonemason Mason & Forster, and include intricate brickwork and vaulted corner turret feature, restored terracotta ornamental elephants and gargoyles using traditional craft skills, and a new timber shop front and windows.

Supported with more than £700,000 funding from Sunderland City Council, Historic England and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities through the Future High Street Fund and Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) programme, the project has breathed new life into the Hindu Gothic style building, SCC said.

Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at the local authority, said: “The completion of the restoration of Elephant Tea Rooms marks a significant milestone in our efforts to preserve and enhance Sunderland’s rich heritage.

“I am delighted to see this iconic building respectfully restored to its former glory, and I believe it will be a source of pride in our city for years to come.”

Jules Brown, historic places advisor at Historic England, said: “Adorned with stone elephants and gargoyles, the Tea Rooms is one of Sunderland’s most distinctive and best-loved landmarks.

“I’m really pleased that Historic England has been able to support Sunderland City Council’s restoration of this wonderful building, which I hope – together with the recently revitalised Mackie’s Corner – will bring new economic opportunities to this part of the city centre.”

Elephant Tea Rooms has been part of the Sunderland story since the 1870s, when it was designed by Frank Caws for tea merchant Ronald Grimshaw.

Located at the corner of High Street West and Fawcett Street, the Elephant Tea Rooms could at this point house retail & leisure or cultural uses.

McIntyre added: “We are excited to see this incredible building open its doors to new occupiers, further enhancing our city centre alongside other successful restoration projects at Mackie’s Corner and at 170-175 High Street West.”

The council took the building over in 2019, for a time housing the city’s local studies service there.

BNP Paribas Real Estate and Sanderson Weatherall are agents on the project.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Related Articles

Subscribe for free

Stay updated on the latest news and views in North East property


Keep updated on the latest news, deals, views and opportunities in North East property, in your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to Place Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below