`

Roker Pier in Sunderland back open after major repair work

Roker Pier in Sunderland.
Roker Pier in Sunderland.

Historic Roker Pier is now back open to the public following major repair work.

The Sunderland pier had been closed since gale force winds and huge waves washed more than 100 metres of railings into the sea together with the coping stones they were fixed into.

Roker Pier in Sunderland.

Roker Pier in Sunderland.

Storms in November last year saw waves breaking over the pier as high as the lighthouse itself.

Repairs got underway in the summer, with a number of the original granite coping stones recovered from the sea by divers using heavy lifting gear following the storm being reused.

Work also included replacing:

- More than 800 metres of modern railings with historic replicas in keeping with the structure's age and appearance

- 1600 metres of bottom mesh panels with a low level rail

- and repairing and repainting 800 metres of historic railings.

Work on the entrance to the pier tunnel, which has being going on in tandem with the repairs, is currently entering its final stages.

Council bosses say this will allow public tours of the tunnel and lighthouse to begin in the spring.

Cabinet Secretary Councillor Mel Speding said: "It's fantastic to see the pier reopening to the public after being closed for the last year.

"It's always been one of Sunderland’s best loved landmarks and I know people have been looking forward to its reopening.

"The pier was built to defend the harbour and its done that job magnificently for over a hundred years.

"Although last year's storms were a devastating blow coming as they did the day we were due to begin public tours of the lighthouse, they also proved that the pier continues to serve a very real purpose to this day as well as being a historic attraction.

"We're now looking forward to cracking on with the completion of the new entrance to the tunnel so that we can open it and the lighthouse to the public for the first time in their history in the Spring."

"There's been an enormous amount of enthusiasm around plans to open the tunnel and lighthouse to public tours and it's really exciting to be getting closer to making that happen."

The tunnel originally housed the gas pipes which ran the length of the pier and helped power the engines of the huge crane Goliath which was used in its construction.

It was later used by the lighthouse keeper to reach the lighthouse in stormy weather when the waves would have been crashing over the deck, and more recently to rescue anglers who have become trapped on the pier in bad weather.

Repairs to the pier have been carried out by Durham-based Hall Construction, while Deptford-based Sunderland company Willowcrete won the contract to replace 800 metres of modern railings with historic replicas.

Public access to the pier will continue to be restricted in adverse weather conditions in the interest of public safety.