An historic Sunderland church, turned event space, has seen off competition from world renowned venues to win a top, national award.

Sunderland’s Holy Trinity Church, at the East end of the city, dates to the 1700s and is cared for by national charity, Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), which has invested millions in restoring the Grade I listed Georgian building.

Aided by £5.1m grant funding and donations, from many contributors including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Benefact Trust and Sunderland City Council. 

Providing sensitive adaption, the church is restored and reconfigured into Seventeen Nineteen; securing a sustainable future as a cultural, heritage and events space.

And the project has now received the highest possible accolade, being named Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year at the prestigious 2022 Museums and Heritage Awards.

It saw off competition in its category from London’s world-famous gallery The Wallace Collection, Aerospace Bristol and the National Trust’s The Wellington Monument, at Somerset, to win the award, presented at a ceremony in London yesterday (Wednesday 11 April).

Held to reward the very best museums and heritage projects across the globe, the awards saw entries from as far afield as the USA, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The judges said they were “ impressed by this hugely complex and challenging project” “which was sensitively executed with a big heart and deep and broad community engagement.”

And Seventeen Nineteen’s win – one of 17 award categories – marked a hat trick for the venue, which earlier this year scooped two honours at the CCT’s National Volunteer of the Year awards.      

Sarah Robinson, Director of Conservation at Churches Conservation, is thrilled at the prestigious win.

“We are absolutely delighted that the hard work and commitment of so many people have been recognised in this Museums+Heritage award,” she said.

“The conservation of Sunderland’s original parish church has called on the vision, skills, and commitment of so many people through the years and was sensitivity executed.

“It’s particularly gratifying that the judges noted the extensive community engagement in the project. Holy Trinity was always, and is once again, a thriving resource for local people in the East End of Sunderland.”

Tim Mosedale of Mosedale Gillatt Architects who partnered with Historic Property Restoration to deliver the scheme, echoed Sarah’s words.

“To receive national recognition for Seventeen Nineteen is a fantastic achievement that reflects the energy and expertise of all involved to deliver such an inspiring building to visit,” he said.

Michael Moody of Historic Property Restoration added that the partnership with CCT and the architects had resulted in the delivery of “ high quality workmanship and first-class project management in a highly sensitive historic environment.”

 “We are also very proud that we were able to deliver high levels of training and skills development to our apprentices throughout the course of the works,” he added.

“The client’s site team provided unparalleled support throughout the course of the works too, making this project an exemplar of best practice in the delivery of Heritage Sector restoration projects.”