A major Sunderland landmark has been opened to the public for the first time in its 113-year history.
Tours of Roker Lighthouse took place as part of the next phase of the structure’s development.
“Following years of hard work by so many different people and organisations, to be able to open up the lighthouse for the first time is an incredible moment for us.”Phil Tweddell
As restoration of the iconic lighthouse was completed earlier in the month, the Roker Heritage Group was able to open up the lighthouse for public tours for the first time.
The tours mark the second stage of the project, with the third and final stage set for spring time next year which will allow the public to explore the tunnel beneath the pier in addition to the lighthouse.
Phil Tweddell, chairman of the Roker Heritage Group, said: “Following years of hard work by so many different people and organisations, to be able to open up the lighthouse for the first time is an incredible moment for us. “The lighthouse has stood testament to so many events in Sunderland and it has an unbelievably rich heritage of its own too – so to be able to share this history with members of the public and to give people the chance to see Sunderland from a completely different vantage point as well has been fantastic.
“Visitors commented that they were really impressed by the high-standard of restoration work.
“The lighthouse has been restored sympathetically, taking it back to the way it would have looked when it was first built in 1903. It is great to hear such positive feedback and that people were appreciative of the level of work and craftsmanship shown.”
Six fully-booked tours took place at the lighthouse as part of the Heritage Open Days programme.
A nationwide heritage festival, the open days offer the public an opportunity to access and explore architectural and cultural attractions each September, free of charge.
Mr Tweddell added: “The Heritage Open Days are a great chance for people to explore their local areas and find out more about the heritage of where they live.
“We hope the tours of the lighthouse have helped to spark an interest in our area’s history and we look forward to welcoming more visitors to the lighthouse with regular tours due to start later this Autumn.”
Supported by Sunderland City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, recent work has included the restoration of the interior of the lighthouse, the tunnel floor and drains following renovation of the lantern house and the pier deck.
A new entrance structure to the pier’s tunnel from the shore is due to commence next year, allowing the structure to be fully opened for public tours for the first time in its history early in 2017.