THE cold, winter sky was lit up with bright lights as Echo editor Rob Lawson flipped the switch to return “a magical time of lights” to Sunderland seafront.
The Marine Walk lighting scheme has been installed as part of efforts to revamp what is seen as one of the city’s best assets.
Redby Academy Community Choir performed to the crowd in Roker Park’s bandstand before the switch-on.
The lighting system illuminates the beach and cliff face, changing to fit in with the seasons and special dates, and a competition was held to come up with designs.
The new system was installed after more than 2,000 people took part in a consultation on what should be done to improve the seafront, with requests including “a return in some form, to the magical time of the lights at the seafront”.
John Kelly, the senior councillor responsible for culture in the city, said: “A lot of people were keen to see some form of lighting at the seafront. We worked with lighting specialists Aurora to come up with a scheme that would make the most of the dramatic setting of Roker Ravine and Holey Rock Corner, then we invited local people to come up with their own colour schemes for the design.
“We wanted a scheme that would enable the colours to change with the months throughout the year, at the same time as helping transform the area into an attractive space where we can stage outdoor events.
“We had some fabulous entries and it was difficult to choose between them.”
The lighting was made possible thanks to £1million from the Commission for the Built Environment Sea Change Fund, which helps culture-led regeneration in coastal areas.
The city council paid £500,000.
Other seafront improvements include the new landmark gates at Roker Pier, an interpretation trail and the opening of Spottee’s Cave.