The Sunderland Vaux Brewery: A history

Photo of the brewery (Vaux) in Sunderland taken in 1999 Credit: PA (1999)

Work starts today on a landmark site in Sunderland city centre, which has remained derelict since the demolition of the Vaux Brewery in 1999.

Central to the plans for the £20m construction of phase one is a 60,000sq ft office building at the heart of the 5.5-hectare site.

The Vaux site will also be used as a venue for events and activities attracting people into the city as work continues.

Take a look back at the history of the site on what is being described as a 'momentous day' for the city.

  • The company was founded in 1806 by Cuthbert Vaux.

  • It was bought by the Wards Brewing Company in 1972.

  • The Vaux Group expanded into hotels by the start of the 1990s.

  • It was March 1999 when the board of the Brewery accepted the advice of a financier and decided to close both breweries.

  • More than 300 people lost their jobs when the family brewery closed after 162 years.

  • The company changed its name to Swallow Group PLC, and sold it's pub estate to a client of the corporate financier. They became part of the Swallow Inns & Restaurants brand.

  • The company was taken over by Whitbread in the year 2000. Most of the hotels became Marriotts and the larger pubs were brought under other national brands - such as Brewers Fayre for example.

  • The Sunderland brewery was later vacated and the buildings were demolished for redevelopment.

  • Tesco bought the former Vaux site in 2001 - but attempts to build a superstore were repeatedly blocked.

  • A 10-year wrangle over the future of a former brewery site in the centre of Sunderland has been settled.

  • Supermarket giant Tesco bought the 26-acre Vaux site in 2001, but several development plans were blocked.

  • Tesco later sold the land to Sunderland Council in 2011.

  • In April 2016 plans to redevelop the site were approved.

  • Sunderland-based developer Siglion are to begin work on the site to build build an office block and leisure complex.

  • The site has remained empty for many years - and has been considered by many in the city to be an eyesore.

Work is underway
Vaux Breweries manageing Director Frank Nicholson, outside the companys Sunderland headquarters today (Wednesday). Around 750 jobs and the future of the embattled Vaux brewery remained in doubt today after a buyout of the company by its managers collapsed Credit: Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA
An artist's impression of the development at the Vaux site Credit: Sunderland Council