The listed station building, courtesy Tyne and Wear Museums
Monkwearmouth Station Museum in Sunderland is to reopen after a £1m refurbishment project.
New and updated parts of the Museum include the original Victorian railway booking office, an interactive children’s gallery, a platform gallery where Metro trains pass by and the Sunderland to Saigon exhibition.
Specialist repair work on the building includes a new roof and spruced up stonework.
There are seven new interactive galleries at the Museum, with an interactive whiteboard in one of the refurbished rooms to improve education facilities. The Museum also plans to host an out-of-school club for local school children.
The exhibition Sunderland to Saigon tells the story of an epic journey by rail from Sunderland to Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon).
Jennie Beale, assistant learning officer at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens completed the journey in March, accompanied by a filmmaker and his assistant. The exhibition includes the resulting film, photographs and objects they brought back.
Courtesy Tyne and Wear Museums
The Museum has also welcomed back its well-loved portrait of Sunderland railway entrepreneur George Hudson. The painting was taken away for the two years of renovation work, but is now back in its rightful place on the wall of the entrance hall, and has undergone extensive conservation work.
Hudson, ‘the Railway King’, was elected MP for Sunderland in 1845 and celebrated his success by building the magnificent Monkwearmouth Station, now Grade II Listed.
His portrait, by Sir Francis Grant, dates from 1846 and shows the businessman and politician holding a scroll believed to be the successful Railway Bill.
George Hudson being put back in place, courtesy Tyne and Wear Museums
Hudson met his downfall in 1865, however, when he was sent to prison for his part in the eastern railway frauds scandal.
“I am very much looking forward to the re-opening of Monkwearmouth Station Museum,” said Councillor Mel Spalding, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, before the opening.
“The refurbishment, which the city council has helped to fund, will not only have restored a listed building of great value to Sunderland’s heritage, it will also significantly improve the cultural offer of the city."
“The Museum’s new facilities and exhibitions will build on the success of Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and create a cluster of attractions on the north side of the river.”
Courtesy Tyne and Wear Museums
The north side of the River Tyne is also home to the National Glass Centre, Fulwell Windmill and St Peter’s Church, nominated as a World Heritage Site with its twin monastery, St Paul’s.
The public launch event on Saturday August 4 will be marked with a family fun day. Make your way to the Museum between 11am and 3pm for a barbeque with jazz band backing, plus children’s activities.
The redevelopment of Monkwearmouth Station Museum has been funded by a grant of £497,000 from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) together with contributions from Sunderland City Council, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund, The Friends of Sunderland Museums (FOSUMS) and Tyne & Wear Museums Business Partners Fund. The total investment is over £1m.