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Countryfile goes to the seaside

BBC One's Countryfile is off to the seaside this weekend as it visits Sunderland's Roker Pier.

The programme, which was filmed in the city last month, sees presenter Ellie Harrison visiting the historic grade II listed pier and lighthouse which is nearing the end of its £2.15m restoration.

In its trailer, the BBC says: 'Ellie is down the coast near Sunderland, where restoration of the beautiful Roker Lighthouse is nearly complete. She discovers the secret tunnels used by the lighthouse keepers to get to the light in rough weather and learns that, in its day, it was the most powerful lighthouse in Britain.'

During her visit, presenter Ellie Harrison talked to volunteers from the Roker Heritage Group about their involvement in the project, including Phil Tweddell, chair of the group and the grandson of the last lighthouse keeper, who showed them round the lighthouse and recalled his memories of it from childhood.

The programme also looks at the history behind the building of the Pier and Lighthouse, the current restoration project, and the plans to open the tunnel and lighthouse as a visitor attraction this autumn.

And it sees Ellie joining Phil and another volunteer cleaning the brass handrails in the lighthouse as part of the ongoing maintenance which will become part of the day to day responsibility of the heritage group once they begin tours of the pier and lighthouse.

Cabinet Secretary, Councillor Mel Speding, said: "It's fantastic to see Roker Pier continuing to gain national media attention. We've already had visits from the Hairy Builders and BBC 2's Great Railway Journeys so we were only too glad to show round Countryfile.

"We've known for a long time what a wonderful asset the pier is for our city and the wider region but it's good to see its historic importance being recognised more widely."

Sunderland City Council is nearing the end of its £2.5 million restoration of Roker Pier, which has seen the lighthouse and tunnel restored and the entire length of the pier resurfaced for the first time in its 113 year history, with the help of Heritage Lottery Funding.

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Perhaps Sunderland's most prominent landmark is Penshaw Monument. It was built in 1844 in honour of the first Earl of Durham, John George Lambton. Penshaw was modelled on Theseion, the Temple of Thesus in Athens.

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