A HERITAGE charity has apologised and promised more chances to climb a Wearside icon after its open day was flooded with visitors.
Hundreds competed for just 90 spaces to climb Penshaw Monument on Bank Holiday Monday, travelling for miles and queuing from 6.30am.
It was the first time in 85 years that the monument’s “secret” staircase had been open to the public, but the majority of those who turned up went home disappointed.
Now the National Trust has promised everyone who missed out, and asked to come back, has a chance to go up.
Communications and engagement officer Kate Horne said: “Although we were undeniably under-prepared for the overwhelming numbers that turned up, we were absolutely thrilled at the levels of enthusiasm and passion for Penshaw Monument shown by so many people.
“We are very sorry that a number of those who turned up were disappointed.
“It was very frustrating for us that we simply could not accommodate all those wanting to get to the top.
“Running what was initially conceived as a small event to engage with the local community, and which snowballed into something much bigger, was certainly a steep learning curve for our small team.
“We have eight initial dates planned this month and October, and will be contacting people next week to take bookings. Weather and daylight allowing, these dates might well extend into November too. We won’t stop until everybody on that priority list has had their 10 minutes at the top.
“We are also planning to run regular events from next Easter, which will be advertised again to the general public. We will be hosting a number of exclusive free events for members in the future too.”
Penshaw Monument’s staircase and walkway was closed to the public in 1926 after 15-year-old boy Temperley Arthur Scott fell to his death from the top.
Amy Herdman, 27, from Penshaw, missed out on its reopening.
She said her father had played a big role in fighting plans to build a road through woodland surrounding Penshaw Monument in the 1990s.
But her mother and father missed out after waiting three hours to find out they could not go up the monument.
She said: “If the National Trust cannot understand that Penshaw Monument is a local, and perhaps as Monday showed, a national treasure then perhaps they should have a rethink.
“Despite the fact that the queue had grown to hundreds of people and wrapped its way, in a Lambton Worm-fashion around the monument, no-one informed anyone of them they needed a ticket.”
The monument tours were part of a wider activity day. The Trust said previous events, including a bug hunt and bird-box making had been cancelled due to lack of interest.