Roker Pier named as one of 'top 10 piers in the world'
Historic Roker Pier in Sunderland has been named as one of the top 10 piers in the world.
Readers of The Guardian put the Grade II-listed pier up alongside piers in California, Western Australia, Thailand, Cuba, South Africa, Holland, two piers in Poland and closer to home, Clevedon in Somerset as their favourites.
The pier and lighthouse was hailed as a triumph of Victorian engineering when it first opened in the early 1900s.
Built between 1885 and 1903 by Henry Hay Wake who was Chief Engineer with the River Wear Commissioners, its beam of light was reputedly visible 15 miles out to sea.
Anya Chapman wrote in the Guardian's piece: "This newly refurbished pier is a gem.
"It looks like any other harbour pier on first inspection, well used by cyclists, strollers, sunbathers and people fishing.
"Recently it has undergone restoration so that you can now explore its tunnel, hidden within the pier itself, which runs to the lighthouse at the end.
"Where else do you get to go inside a pier structure?
"The views from the lighthouse are superb.
"And there is excellent fish and chips at the entrance to the pier."
Speaking about the pier's inclusion in the Guardian list, Sunderland City Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller said: "It's fantastic to see Roker Pier being named one of the world's best piers, especially in the week after it opened to tours for the first time in its history.
"We always knew it was one of the best but it's brilliant to see it right up there with some of the most beautiful piers in the world."
The Grade II Listed pier tunnel and lighthouse opened to public tours last week following a Â£2.5million restoration by the city council, funded with the help of the National Lottery.
The pier tunnel, which once provided the only means for the lighthouse keepers of old to reach the lighthouse in stormy weather, has also been restored with a new entrance structure which allows members of the public to access it via a staircase.
When Sunderland City Council began the restoration in 2012, the lighthouse was little more than a shell, having been repeatedly vandalised and stripped of many of its original features.
Restoration has included conservation of the lantern house, repairs to the tunnel floor and drains and work to improve access.
Many of the original features have also been lovingly recreated.
The tours are being run by volunteer group, Roker Heritage Group with any profits made from them being reinvested into activities, events and outreach work.
These have proved so popular that demand for the tours crashed the website in the first week.
For more information and to book a tour visit www.rokerpier.co.uk