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A Civic Reception at Queen Street


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Queen Street Masonic Hall in Sunderland had some very important visitors on Friday, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of the City of Sunderland, Councillor Henry Trueman, The Mayoress Councillor Dorothy Trueman, Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chris Beck, the Facilities Manager for Tombola. They were received by Robin Middleton, Chairman Dave Dorward, Trust Secretary Paul Swansbury, from the Queen Street Heritage Trust and a host of members from Lodges from Queen Street.


After a champagne reception and visit around the new improvements to the grounds of Queen Street, the guests were given an in-depth guide of the community and local work of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durhams’ charitable activity, through our Benevolence, MCF, TLC and the Fishing Charity.  The Mayor of the City of Sunderland, Councillor Henry Trueman then thanked their hosts for the day and to continue the great work Durham Freemasons carry out in the community for Sunderland.


The combination for the reason of the reception started over 6 years ago, Phil Cronin, CEO of Tombola rang Queen Street Masonic Hall, as Robin Middleton a Director of Queen Street was leaving the building and said he was down the road at Wylam Wharf and asked if he could pop up and have a look. The name “ Cronin “ rang a big bell.


Any mature Sunderland supporter will recollect his father, the late, Frank Cronin, who had been a Director of Sunderland AFC, Edward Thompson the Printers. He walked up in a few minutes, from his new offices at Wylam Wharf on the Quayside, whilst Queen Street on the outside looks dilapidated, he had a look inside and was amazed at its splendour! He explained that his family had originated in the “East End “and never knew this was here. His ancestors had a shop “Maggie Tugmans Groggins “in Church Street.


Phil Cronin’s problem was that he wished to expand his business Tombola and wanted to keep it in Sunderland where his roots were, but he had a problem in that he needed to be able to have enough off-street parking for the new workforce before he could get his planning permission and the car park at the Temple was the answer to his problem.


However, the Car Park resembled a Bombsite and needed much work. After meeting with Chairman Dave Dorward & Trust Secretary Paul Swansbury, who are both directors of the Queen Street Heritage Trust, who are registered charity owners of the property, a deal was struck, and planning permission was sought to have the car park extended, resurfaced, and made secure with a new fence and CCTV.


A simple planning application you might think, however, there were to be many obstacles in the way to be overcome, what with the fact that the area had become part of Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) the application involved Historic England, the local Conservation Officer, Archaeologists who all had their own conditions that they wanted to be incorporated in the application. Eventually and with great effort the plan was approved, and after 6 years work began.


The problem of inflation in those 6 years meant that the original sum needed fell short of what was needed, but due to Phil Cronin’s generosity the money was found and the whole site has been transformed, vastly improving the location generally, but also making it a better place to live for our neighbouring residents, many of whom have taken the time to speak to us and express their thanks for the improvements made.


The building is now part of the Sunderland Riverside Heritage Trail that has been developed as part of the HAZ Scheme around the East End of Old Sunderland and are soon to be part of a Mouse Trail that is being planned with their own Mouse Dr Tipping Brown.


Queen Street Heritage Trust will be opening the building between 10 am and 4 pm on Saturday 11th September as part of the National Heritage Open Day taking place nationally, should you wish to see what we consider to be the “Jewel in Sunderland’s Crown” please come along.

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Following this afternoon's announcement from the Provincial Grand Secretary regarding changes to the Executive Team, please see the website for the updated Toast lists which are to be used as of now.

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