The Renovation of Hylton Castle

Hylton Castle has become one of the most well-known buildings in the region. Sunderland's second oldest building, it has always been a focal point in Sunderland and has seen the city change over centuries. In 2017, after nearly 25 years of public backing, renovation started on the castle to provide new services in one of the countries heritage sites. But what does this mean for the residents of the area?

With the new renovation, the castle will not just be restored to how it used to be. Director of the project, Jon Charlton, explained that "the new castle will incorporate office spaces and meeting areas, which will allow the community to work from inside the castle."

Plans are also set in place to use the facilities to give youth more involvement in the area. A committee is being set up which will be entirely ran by teenagers, allowing them to have a larger say in the community, with the outcome expecting to create more opportunities. There are also apprenticeships and internships available, helping improve employment in the area. Jon Charlton continued to say that “If we can even spark some interest in young people, then we have done a great job.”

Alongside the castle, improvements will be made to develop the grounds it is built on. The aim is to create a large space to accommodate events such as festivals, battle re-enactments and weddings, with 4 already booked in for the months after the reopening of the site.

The renovation alone will cost approximately £3.3 million, with the project overall summing up to £4.5 million.

Hylton Castle has been listed as a Heritage at Risk site. This means that while being part of the English Heritage, it is under special conservation due to neglect, decay or inappropriate development. Due to it's abandonment in previous years the state of the castle has declined. The renovation of the castle is expected to restore the castle to its prime, and hopefully remove its status of "at risk". The Heritage Lottery Funds is focused on helping sites that are most at risk, therefore the £3.3 million donated by the organisation will be utilised to save the structure.

The renovation promises to provide an improvement in the area, with some effects already being seen. Councillor for the Castle Ward, Stephen Foster, explained how the money being used towards the project is already being put into effect. "Security has risen through the area recently. With the funding we have managed to insert security cameras that have lowered crime rate in the grounds. Also with the construction site working, youths who would normally use the castle to hang around are now taken off the site. The projects we have lined up in the new building will keep them off the streets." These projects are also intended to have a long-term affect. “With the committees being started to give teenagers a voice in the area, we hope that in time they will be able to take over the projects in future.”

"It's a blessing in disguise"

- George Gibson

George Gibson, a resident in the castle area, understands the benefits that the renovation will bring. "Everybody seemed a bit sceptical at the start of the project, however as it has continued the whole community are gaining more interest and are wanting to get involved!" He explained how after laying idle for years, it is already showing a positive effect now the council have begun their plan. “It's a blessing in disguise! Youths in the area were on the streets drinking, fighting and taking drugs. The plan to use the castle to give young people opportunities will give them something to do like never before.”

The renovation is due to be finished in Autumn 2018.