Roker Pier has been temporarily closed after gale force winds and huge waves washed away more than 50 metres of railings over the weekend.
The closure means that public tours of the Grade ll listed lighthouse, which were due to begin tomorrow following the pier’s restoration, have had to be postponed.
Poor weather conditions have so far made it impossible for structural engineers to get on to the pier to assess the damage.
Cabinet secretary Mel Speding said: "We’re approaching the end of a £2.5million restoration of the pier and were really looking forward to opening the lighthouse to public tours this week so this has come as a major setback to our plans.
"Sea conditions have been really rough over the weekend with gale force winds and waves washing over the pier, breaking as high as the lighthouse itself.
"This has resulted in more than 50 metres of railings and the coping stones they were cemented into being washed away.
"The pier was built to protect the harbour from the sea so in a sense this just proves it is doing its job.
"While it's not the first time it’s been badly battered by storms nor will it be the last, it’s certainly a setback but it's one that we will recover from.
"At the moment we’re not in a position to assess the damage or how long it will take to carry out repairs because we have to wait for the weather conditions to improve enough to get structural engineers onto the pier.
"In the past when the pier has been closed due to weather conditions we have had problems with some fishermen climbing over the gates but we really can’t emphasise strongly enough how dangerous that would be at this point in time because towards the seaward end of the pier on the harbour-side there are no railings to prevent people being washed into the sea."