Exciting times are ahead for one of Sunderland’s most visually iconic buildings.

The elephants of the Frank Caws Elephant Tea Room building are getting ready to trumpet the beginning of an exciting new development. No longer a commercial tea house, Sunderland City Council is currently renovating the ground and first floors of the building, which will house the largest collection of Sunderland related records and information, through Libraries Services.

To mark this exciting new development for the city, Libraries Services have teamed up with The Regional Oral History Centre: Living History North East and audio producer Jay Sykes (of the 'ArtyParti' and 'Speak Up Sunderland' podcasts), to bring the building back to life as a brand new podcast series

Janette Hilton from Living History North East, said: "To celebrate the building’s vibrant history and heritage – we’re asking residents to come forward with their memories and voices for our 'An Elephant Never Forgets'  brand new podcast series, launching in 2020.

"Just like the elephants aloft, we are calling on to the people of Sunderland to come and help us celebrate this iconic building and its history. If you have any memories of this building, its past, and how it’s been a part of your life and Sunderland’s development, we want to hear from you.

"We are asking people to pop along to the Donnison School Heritage and Education Centre,  on Wednesday 27 November from 11 am - 4.30 pm to share any stories, photographs, or memorabilia that relate to the building or the area.

Jay Sykes will be compiling your memories of the building - whether that’s opening a bank account, buying a suit from the tailors, or simply looking up at the elephants as you sip a coffee from across the street. Come and join us at the Donnison school to be part of this exciting podcast project, and have your memories become part of our city’s audio history."

Fiona Brown, Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, at Sunderland City Council, said: "We’re very interested to hear people's memories of the building, particularly if they or members of their family worked there or if they have photos of it in its past life, as we'd like to be able to tell its story when it reopens as Sunderland’s Local History Library@ETR

"We know it has had a number of incarnations since it stopped being used as a tea rooms, including as a drapers, a tailors, a jewellers, a furriers and a bank and it may have had other uses too. So we'd love to hear from people who have a family connection with the building, either in its life as a tea rooms or since then."

'An Elephant Never Forgets' will be available for download as a new original weekly podcast series in 2020, and also as part of the Speak Up Sunderland podcast. The episodes will be showcased at live events in the Frank Caws Elephant Tea Rooms Building, where the project will continue to collect more memories.

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Did you know?

L.S. Lowry spent his holidays in Sunderland at Seaburn, painting scenes of the coast, port and coal mines. The city is the home to one of the best collections of L.S. Lowry paintings in England.


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