Whilst taking a gentle stroll along Roker Pier last week I was lucky enough to bump into Matt Storey, the Roker Pier Restoration Project Co-Ordinator. I had met Matt at the first What Next Sunderland Meeting and we had got talking about the restoration of the Lighthouse and tunnel which runs the length of the pier.
Over the past three years Roker Pier and Lighthouse has undergone an extensive restoration program, with the council investing over £1.35m to conserve the lantern house and repair the pier deck.
The most recent works have been jointly funded by the council and Heritage Lottery Fund and included the restoration of the lighthouse interior, repair of the tunnel floor and drains, and the improvement of access. The final phase of this work to build a new entrance structure is due to commence later this year, with a view to then opening the structure to the public for the first time in the pier’s one hundred and twelve year history.
While this work is ongoing the council will be supporting the recently formed Roker Heritage Group to operate tunnel and lighthouse tours, ensuring that when the structure is opened it becomes a popular attraction that can engage people with Sunderland’s rich maritime heritage.
So, after bumping into Matt, he very kindly offered to give me a sneaky tour of the Lighthouse! I was just a little bit excited! What an amazing opportunity to have a look around one of the best known and loved Sunderland landmarks! It’s an amazing structure and the restoration works are looking fantastic so I thought (with Matts permission) I would share some of the photos from my visit.
I intend to write a further blog, which I am currently researching, covering the history of the Pier and Lighthouse following. In the mean time you might like to take a look at a previous post from back in October which told the story of the moving of the lighthouse on the Southern Pier (https://northeastlore.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/vol-1-no-6-august-1887-sunderland-lighthouse/), so stay tuned!
Top Left: The restored and original Milton Hollins tiles which are on the ground floor (for anyone interested Topps Tiles are offering these designs in their current range (http://www.toppstiles.co.uk/tprod47050/mh-roker-volcanic-splash-bevel-tile.html)
Top Right: The new lantern
Bottom: View of the South Pier from the second floor window showing the restored brass fixings.
Top Left: The basement which is accessed from the tunnel which runs the length of the pier. It contains the large air compressor for the original fog horn. This has now been replaced by a small orange box, a sign that whilst technology has moved on the requirement to warn shipping is the same as it was when the Lighthouse was constructed!
Top Right: When you gotta go, you gotta go!
Bottom: View up the stairs from the basement to the ground floor.
Left: Access to the central shaft which held the winding gear for the original lantern.
Middle: Central shaft and stairs on the second floor.
Right: Stair case with restored railing (the original fixings were stolen and needed to be replaced).
Top Left: A view along the North Pier from the first floor window.
Top Right: One of the original vents to help air circulate through the Lighthouse.
Bottom: The lantern room.