Sunderland City centre pub steals the show at Pub Design Awards.


City centre pub 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, 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, while The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas at Keswick was the best Conversion to Pub Use. The Admiral Collingwood in Ilfracombe was the New Build winner and The Bevy at  Bevendean, Brighton was accredited with a special award for work by the local community.

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.

Professor Parissien added: “All the winners show that good, sympathetic design makes commercial as well as aesthetic sense. They also demonstrate how fabulous pubs can be used as the engines of regeneration for communities and causes. They remind us that the British pub is so much more than somewhere to have a pint: it is the beating heart of our neighbourhood, a place that defines our identity and locality, an agent for relaxation, renewal and revitalisation.”

The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Keswick’s award for Conversion to Pub Use came about after it was one of the town’s major architectural headaches. Formerly Keswick’s Magistrates Court and Police Station, this handsome if predictably austere listed landmark was empty for many years. Now it has been saved by Wetherspoons and sensitively converted into a multi-room pub.

Another Wetherspoons pub, The Admiral Collingwood, on the seafront of Ilfracombe, took the New Build Award. Harrison Ince Architects have devised an uncompromisingly modern building where the glass dome offers urban presence, while the rest of the main elevation is understated yet sophisticated.

New artworks commissioned for the interior and a steel sculpture of a wave breaking reminds customers that they are, after all, on the town’s seafront.

Continuing the theme of urban renaissance, the Joe Goodwin award (in memory of a former chairman of CAMRA) goes to an outstanding community pub: The Bevy in Bevendean, Brighton. A 1930s pub in the middle of a Brighton council estate, it faced closure and conversion or demolition. In response, the locals got together and reinvented ‘The Bevy’, raising funds and carrying out much of the refurbishment work.

Winners list:

Refurbishment Award: The Dun Cow, Sunderland
Architects: T.J. Design, Billingham, Cleveland TS22 5LY

CAMRA/Historic England Conservation Award: The Dun Cow, Sunderland
Architects: T.J. Design, Billingham, Cleveland TS22 5LY

Conversion to Pub Use: The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Keswick
Architects: Harrison Ince, Manchester M15 4PY

New Build Award: The Admiral Collingwood, Ilfracombe.
Architects: Harrison Ince, Manchester M15 4PY

Joe Goodwin Award: The Bevy, Bevendean, Brighton
Architect: ABIR Architects, Hove BN3 2FX