Hutchinson's Buildings


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
104-109 High Street West, Sunderland, SR1 1TX


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Statutory Address:
104-109 High Street West, Sunderland, SR1 1TX

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sunderland (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former shops and offices, rebuilt in 1898-1899 after destruction by fire, to the designs of Henry Miller Potts of Joseph Potts & Son.

Reasons for Designation

Hutchinson's Buildings (104-109 High Street West), rebuilt in 1898-9, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a handsome late-C19 commercial design, whose main facade represents a subtle reworking of the theme of the original building by its use of classical orders presented in similar stone; * it has a legible plan-form, retaining the basements of the original building but clearly reflecting late-C19 interest in creating chambers above commercial premises; * it retains a variety of original fixtures and fittings including a Minton Hollins tiled hall, a neo-Jacobean stair, and plasterwork, joinery and chimneypieces to the upper levels.


Hutchinson's Buildings was erected between 1850 and 1853 by Ralph Hutchinson, a local ship builder and timber importer. It was a substantial commercial development on the corner of Bridge Street and High Street West, and replaced a pair of houses on Bridge Street, the remainder of the extensive plot being vacant. The building comprised a four-storey terrace of eight self-contained vertical units of ground-floor shops and basements, with domestic accommodation above. The building had undergone only minor modifications since its construction, when the Great Fire of Sunderland struck on 18 July 1898. The catastrophic fire led to the demolition of much of the High Street West frontage (104-109), which was rebuilt between 1898 and 1899 to designs of Henry Miller Potts of local firm Joseph Potts and Son. The steel-framed replacement provided for ground floor shops as before but with offices rather than domestic accommodation above. Instead of containing vertical units of basement, shop and accommodation, each floor served different functions. The cellarage was let separately, divorcing it from the shops and businesses above.

Notable early-C20 retailers and office tenants included J Jones, Furriers and costumiers, John S G Pemberton the independent Unionist candidate for the 1900 General Election, and the North Eastern Railway Company. A and G Taylor ‘Photographer to the King and Royal Family’ also ran a photographic studio within the attic. During the later C20 the second floor office accommodation was partitioned into smaller spaces and refurbished with a contemporary decorative scheme, and a lift was inserted. In 1987 the ground and first floors were converted to a night club (Chambers) and bar, resulting in the blocking of many rear windows, the removal of most internal walls, the insertion of suspended ceilings, the cladding of structural piers, the creation of steps and platforms and the insertion of WCs, bars and additional stairs. In 2018, much of the ground floor was converted to a café that extends into the adjacent listed building (1 and 1A Bridge Street and 101-103 High Street West).


Former shops and offices, rebuilt in 1898-1899 after destruction by fire, to the designs of Henry Miller Potts of Joseph Potts & Son.

MATERIALS: steel frame clad in sandstone ashlar, with possible reuse of some 1850 materials; Welsh slate roof; red-brick rear elevation.

PLAN: rectangular, facing the High Street.

EXTERIOR: situated on High Street West, the building has a symmetrical elevation with a three-bay central section of three storeys with three sets of paired windows, flanked by four-storey, two-bay end pavilions with two sets of paired windows. The building references rather than replicates the 1850s building that it replaced. The central entrance has a reeded surround within a doorcase of Tuscan fluted columns, on high panelled plinths, and an entablature with low relief ‘HUTCHINSON'S BUILDINGS’ on a frieze below a segment-headed corniced pediment with foliate sculpture. ‘Chambers’ appears in a panel above the panelled two-leaf door. The ground-floor shop fronts are C20 replacements. The first and second floors have high panelled plinths to giant Tuscan pilasters, fluted and reeded through the first floor, defining each pair of bays in slightly projecting central and end sections. There are moulded sills to horned sash window frames in plain reveals on both floors. The second floor entablature, breaks forward over the end projections, and has a pierced balustrade over a central pediment. The end pavilions have a corniced attic storey with pilasters and paired windows; acroteria on the cornice appear to have been re-used from the previous building. Corniced balustrades link the centre and end blocks. Windows are mostly late-C19 horned sashes, with the exception of those to number 103, whose original 1850s exterior was retained along with original sash windows. The rear elevation is of red brick with concrete lintels over the many window and door openings. A triple-height canted bay stair window lighting the main rear staircase, has largely blocked window openings with the exception of the second floor, which retains original fenestration.

INTERIOR: some cellar stone walls of the original 1850s building survive, with some brick rebuilding, beneath the late-C19 rebuilt ground and upper floors. The late-C19 plan forms of the ground and first floors have been lost through conversion to a later-C20 nightclub, and the main visible historic features of note in these areas is the late-C19 hallway entered from the central entrance, and a grand staircase. The hallway has a geometric encaustic tiled floor, a compartmented ceiling, and walls clad in Minton, Hollins and Co low-relief tiles; these have yellow panels with sunflowers below the dado, and panels in cream and brown with green birds in a pear tree above the dado. The grand, ornate neo-Jacobean wooden staircase has original treads, chunky newels and fluted balusters. The original cornice and tongue and groove ceiling is retained beneath a suspended ground floor ceiling. The second floor housing the original chambers retains its original plan but with partitions inserted: it has a communal reception room with plaster segmental arches with fluted keystones supported by fluted consoles, that give access to various areas; one pair of arches has a plaster niche set in between. There are a number of large second floor rooms (subdivided by C20 stud walls) with chimneybreasts and hearths but fireplaces removed. The two small third floors each have their own staircase from the second floor. The more easterly forms a single room which retains a fireplace with an elaborate wooden surround and a cast-iron grate, and some original cornice and skirting; the glazed southern part of the roof indicates that this was a photographic studio. The more westerly attic has a short flight of timber stairs and a number of four-panel doors, skirting boards and an exposed hearth.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: County Durham, (1983), 458
Hutchinson's Buildings 1 & 1a Bridge Street and 101-109 High Street West Sunderland: Investigation, research and assessment of significance. Historic England Research Report 2018.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 22 Aug 1999
Reference: IOE01/01196/16
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr B.G. Carroll. Source Historic England Archive
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