HISTORIC Roker Pier reopens today after an £850,000 overhaul to repair storm damage, which has seen the structure closed to the public since June.
The extensive project saw the entire 600-metre length of the 111-year-old pier resurfaced as part of an ongoing refurbishment programme, while below-water repairs had also to be made to its foundations.
After restoration work on the lighthouse last year, and this year’s repairs, a further phase of refurbishment works to the lighthouse and tunnel is set to start next year, subject to Heritage Lottery funding. Work on the pier railings is also planned.
Sunderland City Council cabinet secretary Mel Speding said: “Roker Pier is one of our best-loved landmarks. But there were only so many times that the council could carry out running repairs.
“More than a century of North Sea weather had taken its toll on this popular landmark and we had got to the stage where we needed to replace the entire surface to protect the pier for future generations.
“The city council wants to protect and preserve our built heritage wherever it can. That’s exactly what is being done with these works to the pier and lighthouse, and then further work next year.”
Coun John Kelly, portfolio holder for culture, said: “Carrying out and completing this major programme of works through summer and autumn meant less need to close for temporary repairs in the future.
“The lantern house at the top of the lighthouse was restored a year ago and we hope it and a restored tunnel can in the future be opened for public tours.”
The council has allocated £1.35million to the pier as part of its seafront regeneration programme at Roker and Seaburn.
Paul Stephenson, managing director of contractor Southbay, said: “Roker Pier has presented us with some unique and interesting challenges. These included working on a listed structure, working around the tides and always keeping an eye on the state of the sea and weather conditions. As a company, we are very proud to have worked with Sunderland City Council on this fantastic historic structure.”