Restoration of Roker Pier and LighthouseSunderland City Council

'We should be rightfully proud of delivering, in my opinion, the best restoration project in the region'.
Ian Smithwhite, BA (Hons) DipTP MRTPI, Senior Conservation Officer, Sunderland City Council

The complex of tunnel, pier and lighthouse is of exceptional significance and represents the pinnacle of Victorian ingenuity, power of convictions and industry. BBA restored the Lighthouse interior and created the new tunnel entrance portal building.

Completed in 1904 and manned by a shore based crew who accessed the lighthouse by tunnel in the pier in bad weather. The entrance, covered by a little shed, was lost long ago.

The fabric has taken a battering by the sea whilst suffering from constraints in maintenance which left Roker Pier in poor condition. Anti-social behaviour, graffiti, fires, break-ins and the theft of metals meant the lighthouse was stripped out, run down and in unvisitable condition. The pier deck was poor, original railings lost and the tunnel leaked.

Its plight and uniqueness was recognised and in 2014 with a HLF grant & SCC funding saw the start of a four year restoration and conservation of the lighthouse, repair of the pier deck, reinstated original railings & creation of a new tunnel entrance building for visitors. This new addition is made in the same granite materials as the pier and lighthouse. The nature of the complex doesn’t enable chair users to visit underground so we have developed a computer generated walk through the tunnel and lighthouse. Guides will enable chair users to visit above ground and they can be assisted into the ground floor of the lighthouse.

The interest in the project, not just locally but nationally, is huge. From the association of Lighthouse Keepers who thought the work was very well done, to the building’s visitors, Roker Pier is attracting attention. The project was not just to restore lost features but bring the complex back to life as a creditable and unique visitor attraction, open to visit for the first time in its history.