Bid for lottery cash to revamp Sunderland’s historic Roker Pier

Roker Pier, Sunderland
Roker Pier, Sunderland
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AMBITIOUS plans to restore a historic pier to its former glory are set to move a step closer.

Sunderland City Council bosses will this week submit a formal bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to help renovate the 110-year-old Roker Pier.

Earlier this year, the authority announced a £1.35millon rolling programme of restoration for the Grade II listed structure, with work expected to start on the lantern house in August.

Other work will include replacing the deck and, should the £500,000 funding bid be successful, restoring the lighthouse and its access tunnel.

Councillor Mel Speding, cabinet secretary, said: “Roker Pier is a much-loved landmark which has protected the entrance into Sunderland harbour for more than 100 years.

“But there’s no doubt that a century of winter storms and buffeting waves have taken their toll on the pier, placing it at risk and we would love to see it restored to its former glory so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

“We’ve already set aside £1.35million to carry out the work, starting with the restoration of the lantern house this summer. Additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Funding would really help us to open up access to the pier, and make more of its educational potential.

“What we’d really like is to be able to open the tunnel and lighthouse up for public tours and develop a range of resources to make the most of its heritage.”

Built between 1885 and 1903, the pier and lighthouse were hailed as a “triumph of engineering” when they opened.

The original lantern was gas powered, beaming more than 15 miles out to sea.

Coun Speding said the council also hopes to reopen a tunnel, used by keepers to reach the lighthouse in bad weather, to the public, possibly with the help of a city community group.

He added: “The pier tunnel is like a hidden time capsule.

“We’d really like to open it up so that more people get the chance to visit it and experience the sense of history down there.”

The council expects to discover in August if its first-stage bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been successful.

If it is, then more detailed proposals will be developed and submitted for funding.