F-Pit Museum, Washington

Opened in 1976, the F-Pit Museum tells the story of the ‘F-Pit’ coal mine which was established in the late eighteenth century as part of the New Washington Colliery. At its peak the mine produced 86,000 tonnes of coal annually and employed more than 1,500 workers but production ceased in the 1960s.

Bids to deliver the contract will be evaluated 40 per cent on quality, 10 per cent social value and 50 per cent on cost. Applicants must hold employer’s liability insurance of £10 million, public liability insurance of £10 million and professional indemnity insurance of £5 million.

Competition details

According to the brief: ‘Washington F Pit Engine House is currently on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register as a result of its significant underuse and some outstanding repair needs not addressed by recent urgent repair works.

Project title Appointment of Accredited Conservation Architect-Led Multi-Disciplinary Design Team Washington F-Pit Museum
Client Sunderland City Council
Contract value £2.2 million
First round deadline Midday, 18 December 2023
Restrictions Applicants must provide up to three examples that demonstrate that they can meet the technical and professional ability criteria of the project
More information https://www.find-tender.service.gov.uk/Notice/034062-2023


‘The development of the F-Pit Museum, including a new visitor centre and café on the site, alongside improvements to Albany Park, provides a significant opportunity to provide the Museum with a viable and sustainable long-term future and for the wider site to play a more strategic role in attracting visitors to Washington and the wider City, and regenerating the local neighbourhood.’

The winning architect-led multi-disciplinary design team will draw up plans for a new visitor centre and café at the F-Pit Museum along with repairs to the historic F-Pit Engine House, parking upgrades and public realm improvements.

The project, planned to complete in 2027, aims to boost visitor numbers to the museum which is currently on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register and only receives around 1,000 visitors a year. Key aims include securing a ‘viable and sustainable long-term future’ for the site and drawing new visitors to Washington and Sunderland.

‘The Museum is currently limited in its offer and attracts approximately only 1000 visitors across the year. It is however one of the City’s most important heritage assets and a well-known landmark, and a popular and valued asset within the local community.

Key aims of the latest project include celebrating local industrial mining heritage and finding a new use for the current ‘underused’ heritage attraction. It will deliver a new heritage visitor centre, café and outdoor exhibition space while existing historic structures will be restored.