Bede Tower in Burdon Road, Sunderland, was built in 1851 for Anthony John Moore, solicitor, chairman of the Gas Company and Mayor of Sunderland from 1854-55.
A J Moore as a prominent citizen, developed much of the Ashbrooke and Christchurch area, buying up Mowbray land and using Andrew Middlemiss as his architect.
Bede Tower was designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The house consists of a two-storey block with a five stage tower. The tower is similar to that of Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s summer residence on the Isle of Wight.
A painting from around 1854 shows the original house in its grounds and surrounded by virgin countryside with a clear view as far as Tunstall Hills. Within 100 years this whole area would be covered with houses.
Bede Tower did not serve as a private home for long. By 1890 it was in use as a Boys’ School, and in the First World War as a regimental hospital.
Two photos still exist showing the building from Burdon Road in 1890, and a group of First World War soldiers on the drive with the tower in the background.
In 1918, the governing body of the Eye Infirmary bought the site with the intention of erecting a new hospital there. The new Eye Infirmary was eventually built elsewhere and Bede Tower was then purchased by Canon W. Smith acting on behalf of a Roman Catholic body which wanted the site for a school.
In the 1960s the site was acquired by Sunderland Polytechnic who built a theatre and gymnasium onto the old house and extended the buildings with a refectory and kitchens. The adjoining building, Clifton Hall, served as a Student residence and teaching block.
The Polytechnic sold the site to Sunderland High School and until it became the home of Bethany City Church, the buildings were used as a school.