ROKER Pier is re-opening to the public today (Friday 28 November) from 9am after a £850,000 re-surfacing and repair project.
The 600metre long pier, which is 111-years-old and Grade II listed, was closed to the public on Sunday 22 June 2014 for the works.
Works, as part of an on-going refurbishment programme, were carried out over the summer months. This is because seas are not as heavy and below water repairs had also to be made to its foundations.
After restoration work on the lighthouse last year, and this year’s resurfacing, a further phase of refurbishment works to the lighthouse and tunnel is being scheduled for 2015, subject to a successful Heritage Lottery Funding award. Work on the pier railings is also planned as part of the rolling refurbishment programme.
In December 2013, heavy seas displaced large segments of the pier’s structure.
Councillor Mel Speding, Cabinet Secretary, Sunderland City Council, said: “Roker Pier is one of our best loved landmarks. But there were only so many times that the council could carry out running repairs.
“More than a century of North Sea weather had taken its toll on this popular landmark and we had got to the stage where we needed to replace the entire surface to protect the pier for future generations.
“The City Council wants to protect and preserve our built heritage wherever it can. That’s exactly what is being done with these works to the pier and lighthouse, and then further work next year.”
The main aspects of work in the summer and autumn were:
- resurfacing the entire length of the pier with a new 6,000sq metre structural concrete slab;
- foundation repairs that included pumping in 250 tonnes of underwater concrete – work that was overseen by specialist divers;
- re-pointing more than 1,000 metres of joints.
Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “Carrying out and completing this major programme of works through summer and autumn meant less need to close for temporary repairs in the future.
“The lantern house at the top of the lighthouse was restored a year ago and we hope it and a restored tunnel can in the future be opened for public tours.”
The council has allocated £1.35m to the pier as part of the City Council’s ongoing seafront regeneration programme at Roker and Seaburn.
These pier works were carried out by specialist marine civil engineering contractor Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, who are based in North Shields.
Paul Stephenson, Managing Director of Southbay, said: “Roker Pier has presented us with some unique and interesting challenges. These included working on a listed structure, working around the tides and always keeping an eye on the state of the sea and weather conditions.
“As a company, we are very proud to have worked with Sunderland City Council on this fantastic historic structure.
“All the work over the last five months has given this beautiful pier an extended life expectancy so that it can be safely enjoyed by residents and visitors from outside of the region for many more years to come.”
* The pier opened briefly to the public for a fishing contest earlier this month.