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canny spcae The Canny Space

of Here


Engage Sustain Why
Future plans

Download the concept design document here >>

Holy Trinity is a little changed church with a fantastic story to tell, one that starts with the birth of Sunderland and the Georgian age. Our project will save the nationally important Holy Trinity in time for its 300th anniversary  in 2019 and give it wider appeal as ‘The Canny Space’, a new community and commercial venue and exciting heritage attraction – one that will interpret and retell 300 years of history and stories through fun, immersive experiences.

We will deliver urgent conservation and adaptation works, along with a craft skills training programme funded by an innovative social investment package, one that will give people in an area of economic disadvantage life changing skills.

Our programme of activities, learning and performances will re-establish the church as a central part of Sunderland peoples’ lives and it will be a key project in the city’s heritage led regeneration.


The project will mark a major milestone in the life of Holy Trinity, providing an opportunity to focus on the rich heritage and history of Sunderland from 1719.The project will enable local people and visitors to engage with the history and heritage of the building and the wider area, ensuring that it remains alive, active and relevant for future generations. In outline our project will:

  1. Establish the Canny Space in Holy Trinity as a new heritage attraction and community and commercial venue for the city of Sunderland.
  2. Repair, conserve and transform Holy Trinity, saving it for future generations.
  3. Adapt the building for increased use and provide it with a sustainable business plan.
  4. Increase its use and income through new events, activities and by widening its audience. 
  5. Celebrate the 300th anniversary of Holy Trinity's opening in 2019
  6. Deliver a craft skills training programme, part funded through a social investment package, increasing the skills and knowledge of target audiences and improving employability, particularly for people from economically deprived communities. The programme will include six apprenticeships, including ones in brick-work, paint conservation and glazing repair.
  7. With the community devise an engaging and creative activity programme and deliver it with a range of partners, artists and experts, and establish Sunderland’s Centre for Stories at Holy Trinity.
  8. Deliver a range of new interpretation materials, products and experiences, including a Terry Deary authored guide book.
  9. Provide a training and development programme for new volunteers and deliver a big increase in volunteer numbers.
  10. Lever in investment to an economically deprived area and change perceptions of heritage amongst the local community.

Holy Trinity and its history are fascinating. With lots of involvement from the community we want to bring its stories to life once again and unearth the hidden history of the area and its importance in the development of Sunderland.

We have been successful in a stage1 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund and are currently appointing a professional team to help us submit a successful stage2 applications and busy fundraising for £1million of match funding.


The Canny Space is the working project name for Holy Trinity Church, Church Street East, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR1 2BB.

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