STORM-BATTERED Roker Pier is set to be resurfaced along its entire length for the first time as part of a £1.35million restoration programme.
More than a century of high seas and storms have taken their toll on the 111-year-old landmark with hundreds of metres of railings lost into the sea over the years.
And last autumn a huge chunk of the concrete surface was torn up by crashing waves, while December saw waves of up to 30ft close the pier for several days.
The Grade II-listed pier is now having to be closed regularly for surface repairs due to trip hazards and other dangers.
Sunderland City Council has now put in a planning application to resurface the whole pier as part of a scheme announced last January, which began with the restoration of the lantern house, completed in November.
Cabinet Secretary Mel Speding said: “Roker Pier is one of our best loved landmarks. It was built to protect the entrance to Sunderland harbour from the ravages of high winds and crashing waves and it’s done that for over a hundred years. But there are only so many times you can carry out repairs and we’ve now got to the stage where we need to replace the entire surface to protect it for future generations to enjoy.
“Unfortunately there’s never going to be an ideal time to do this vital work and undoubtedly people and groups who regularly use the pier will be disappointed about the disruption. We can’t carry out the work in the winter because of the weather so if we get planning permission we’re hoping to press ahead this spring and summer in the hope that we can reopen the pier in November.”
If given the go-ahead, work will include below water repairs to the foundations of the pier, repointing areas of the pier walls, and the renewal of the concrete pier deck in keeping with its existing original cobbled patterned design. If budget allows, the original Victorian handrail will be shotblasted, redecorated and reinstated during the same phase.
Planning permitting, the pier will close from April 1 for the majority of the work to take place over the summer, with a projected completion next winter.
Built between 1885 and 1903, the pier and lighthouse was hailed as a true ‘triumph of engineering’ when it first opened. The original lantern was gas powered, emitting a 45,000 candlepower reflected beam reputedly visible for over 15 miles out to sea.