Dun Cow to become Head of Steam pub after Camerons takeover

The Dun Cow pub located at 9 High Street West, Sunderland next to the Empire TheatreOne of the North East’s most historic pubs, the Dun Cow, is to play its part in efforts to create a new music, arts and cultural area.

The Grade II listed Edwardian baroque tavern is on the Campaign for Real Ale’s national inventory of historic pub interiors.

But in February the building, opposite Sunderland’s Empire theatre, was put up for sale with an asking price of £220,000, leading to fears it could be turned into flats.

Now Hartlepool’s Camerons Brewery has announced it has entered into an agreement with Leighton Management and the Sunderland MAC Trust, which will see the pub become a Head of Steam venue – with all its historic features preserved.

“We are delighted to work in partnership with Paul Callaghan, Leighton Management and the MAC Trust in the development of this exciting new scheme in Sunderland,” Camerons pub estates and operations director Joe Smith said.

“The vision of the Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter (MACQ) will create a vibrant cultural environment in the city, and The Dun Cow will be at the centre of that.

“We are working closely with the team to restore the venue to its previous glory, and all of the historic features will be kept.

“The Dun Cow, which will be part of our managed Head of Steam brand, will offer over eight traditional hand pulled cask ales and ciders from local and national brewers, as well as having eight craft keg fonts with a rotating line up of beers.

“Being next door to the Empire, we will also provide theatre goers with a fantastic selection of great food and drink offers”.

Why The Dun Cow Is An Important Historic Pub

Rory Johnson of Johnson Conservation carefully restoring the iconic back bar display to its previous glory One of a number of impressive Edwardian pubs in Sunderland The Dun Cow was re-built in 1901 and 1902, with two Dutch gables and a corner copper domed tower which houses two clocks.

The outside of the building, which was designed by architect Benjamin F Simpson, has stone carvings including the year of the work and and “RD Ltd” for Robert Deuchars of Edinburgh.

But the real historical interest lies inside, with Camra’s Michael Slaughter describing the pub’s bar back as “one of the most stunning in Britain”

“It is a splendid traceried Indo-Gothic web billowing out to form platforms on which bottles can be displayed,” he says, in the entry on the campaign’s pub heritage register. “It has three sections, divided by semi-circular projections, and is richly decorated with delicate Art Nouveau-style woodcarving and curious reliefs in plaster in some of the recesses.

“It has two rows of bevelled mirror sections, two drawers and is topped off with a ballustrade and a clock, but a letter box is an S&N addition in the 1970s to show customers the details on the till.

“There is a formidable original bar counter with strong detail such as unusual indentations at the top and pilasters all the way along the front.”

How does the Dun Cow fit into the new Music, Arts and Cultural Quarter?

The plan is for The Head of Steam at the Dun Cow to be a key part of the new MACQ in the centre of Sunderland, helping to bring people in to the soon to be restored section of the city, and re-establishing its former importance as the Edwardian heart and soul of a neighbourhood which already includes the famous and thriving Empire Theatre.

“The MAC Trust sees Camerons and the Head of Steam brand as the perfect partner in the redevelopment” said Paul Callaghan, MAC Trust Board Member. “This brings a vibrant, quality offering to the Dun Cow and really sets a very high standard for what we hope to achieve with the MACQ.”

The Dun Cow is due to open its doors in late September 2014, and Camerons are looking to recruit staff.

If you are interested in applying send a CV to recruitment@cameronsbrewery.com

Photos in this article were supplied by Camerons Brewery, courtesy of Andy Martin at www.this-is-Sunderland.co.uk