A BEACON of coastal history is nearly ready to be unveiled.
Roker Pier lighthouse has been sandblasted, painted and polished over the last 10 weeks.
As part of £1.35million earmarked for the restoration of the pier and lighthouse, £301,000 has been spent on painstakingly overhauling the exterior of the 25-metre high building, standing half a mile out to sea.
Scaffolding covered in weatherproof plastic currently encapsulates the stainless steel top half of the structure – the bottom half is concrete clad in granite – and it has helped an engineering and building team from contractor Trac to battle winds and 20ft-high waves during the reconstruction work.
Site manager Ian Buchanan said he has enjoyed the project, despite having to abandon work for four days due to weather conditions.
“We are still on schedule to finish on time,” he said.
“The work we’ve been doing has been confined to the lantern house because it has been in disrepair for about 40 years.
“You could poke your fingers through holes in the metal walls to the outside because of rot.
“Now, there is new metal and new glass in there, and a new lantern is to be installed.”
Work is also taking place on the roof of the 110-year-old building, now sporting red and white stripes.
“They said at first that red paint wasn’t available, but they did have black,” said Ian.
“I said you can’t paint black and white stripes here.” The gilded 1.6-metre weather vane is the lighthouse’s crowning glory, having been daubed in gold leaf in lighthouse tradition.
Mel Speding, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet secretary, said the funding has been money well spent.
“It’s brilliant,” he said. “The quality of work is absolutely exceptional.
“Given where the building is, the ability to do work like this is absolutely fantastic.
“When we get the pier deck resurfaced next year, and, hopefully, the tunnel open, it will be great. It’s all part of the seafront regeneration, and it’s a great project for Sunderland in its 21st year as a city.”
The north pier lighthouse’s lantern is set to shine once again after work is completed on Monday, November 4.