THE DOORS of a transformed heritage building in Sunderland have opened ahead of its official opening on Friday.

The team from Blacks Corner have been working on the regeneration of the Grade II listed Seaburn Tram Shelter, one of three historic buildings being revamped as part of a £850,000 investment from Sunderland City Council and The Coastal Communities Fund.

The venue provides new use to a structure that was last used as originally intended in the 1950s, when trams became defunct in the city.

The Northern Echo: Jonathan Dryden (left), Cllr Allison Smith (right) and Cllr Kevin Johnston (second from right).Jonathan Dryden (left), Cllr Allison Smith (right) and Cllr Kevin Johnston (second from right). (Image: Press release)

The structure – which had fallen into a state of disrepair – has been sensitively restored, with original timber frames to the fish-scale roof, cast iron columns and decorations all still intact, chandelier lighting, reclaimed 200 year-old terracotta floor, hand baked tiles and log burner.

The seaside landmark – the lease of which was handled by Sunderland based commercial property surveyors, Lofthouse and Partners - will see Blacks Corner open a third location, building on the success of its distinctive East Boldon flagship restaurant and its sister delicatessen.

Jonathan Dryden, co-founder of Blacks Corner, said: “This is a unique space and we very much see ourselves as custodians, and maintaining the integrity of a structure that has such history has been central to this restoration.”

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The venue – like Blacks Corner’s other outlets – will champion local and home-grown British and farm produce through its menu of cheese, wine and charcuterie, with added seafood small plates exclusive to The Tram Shelter. The venue will create 25 new jobs when it officially opens in time for the festive season.

The project is part of a wider programme of transformation at Seaburn and Roker, with the council having spent more than £12m on improvements over recent years. The programme includes award-winning environmental and street-scene enhancements helping attract developments such as Seaburn Stack, the Seaburn Inn and a host of new businesses to Marine Walk.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member of Sunderland City Council, said: “The Tram Shelter was a stunning structure, but the care, respect, attention and imagination that has gone into creating this beautiful new hospitality venue is clear to see.”