Work completed on Wearmouth View

Posted: 11/04/24

Work has been completed on a new building, Wearmouth View, at Monkwearmouth Hospital in Sunderland. It offers staff a modern working environment enabling them to provide excellent care, as well as amenities for the local community.

Work began on the new building back in August 2022, with the demolition of the old building which had become structurally unsound and unfit for purpose.

Work finished in early March. Staff began moving in to the new building at the end of March, and have been delighted with their bright new modern working environment.

The new three-storey building has dramatically improved the site and provides a welcoming, bright entrance to the hospital for visitors and patients. A spectacular atrium contains a new reception area, as well as a bright and airy café, ‘Café Bede’ (pictured below). This is open to the public, and it is hoped will become a welcoming place for the local community.

The rest of the building will house offices and meeting facilities for the Community Mental Health Teams and other services based at Monkwearmouth Hospital. These modern, spacious, purpose-built working environments have been designed in partnership with staff, to promote better teamwork and help them to provide excellent care and support.

The work has also created more outdoor space for people to enjoy around the building. This includes a relaxing new green space and seating areas at the front of the building. A new memorial garden is also being created within the grounds of the hospital, reflecting the history of the site.

In addition, original features of the old building have been preserved and have pride of place in the new entrance area (pictured below). These include the foundation stones and commemorative plaques from the opening of the original building.

Speaking to a small group of staff and partners on his first visit to the new building on Wednesday 10 April, Darren Best, Chair of the Council of Governors and Board of Directors at CNTW, said:

“These are modern facilities we can be really proud of, which will enable us to deliver modern services. The amount of quality space for our staff is amazing, especially for our Community Teams.

“And I’m pleased to see that important plaques and stones from the old building have been kept, so we can look back to the past and history of this site.”

Darren extended his thanks to the estates team at NTW Solutions (a subsidiary company of CNTW), the architects and developers Monkwearmouth Development Ltd (a joint venture between Sir Robert McAlpine Capital Ventures Limited and Argon Property Development Solutions Limited), construction teams from Sir Robert McAlpine, investors Railpen, and especially all the facilities and administrative staff “who make a building like this work”.

James Duncan, Chief Executive at CNTW, added:

“This site has been used for a long time providing a whole range of healthcare services in Sunderland – and although we had to redevelop it, I think it’s a fitting tribute to John Priestman [local philanthropist whose donations funded the building of the original Monkwearmouth Hospital building] that we will continue to have this fantastic building providing health services in the heart of this community.

“It’s remarkable to think this building has taken shape in 18 months, against such a challenging background of the COVID-19 pandemic and financial pressures.

“It’s been a real partnership effort to see how we could all work together to make it happen. We have the building now, so I’m excited to see how we can all use it to best effect for everyone – our staff, patients, and the local community.”

And eagle-eyed visitors to the café may spot a plaque marking the location of a time capsule which has been buried beneath the new building.

During demolition of the old building, a time capsule from 1930 was found in the building’s foundations, containing memorabilia (pictured below) from the opening ceremony of the original Monkwearmouth Hospital which was attended by Edward VIII, Prince of Wales at the time and who later became King.

So far, searches of meeting minutes and press cuttings in archives have not uncovered any details of who prepared and buried the capsule, but it has been gifted to the Sunderland Antiquarian Society for safe-keeping.

To continue the tradition, a new time capsule has been buried beneath Wearmouth View (pictured below). It contains information and photos about the 1930 time capsule and old hospital, and the construction of the new building, as well as items symbolising the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the NHS’s 75th anniversary in 2023.