Roker Pier hits the jackpot with the Heritage Lottery Fund

Sunderland City Council has scooped £545,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to complete the restoration of Roker Pier to its former glory.

The money, which will be supplemented by £136,000 of match funding from the City Council, will help pay for the restoration of the lighthouse and tunnel, paving the way for both to be opened to the public.

A further £300,000 has also been allocated by the City Council to restore and replace the railings along the pier to complete its restoration.

Plans to invest £1.35m in a rolling programme of restoration for the 112-year-old Grade II listed Roker Pier were first announced by Sunderland City Council in February 2013.

Work to restore the lantern house at the top of the lighthouse was completed in November 2013, and the entire length of the pier was resurfaced for the first time in its history last summer.

Today's award from the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable the restoration of the lighthouse and pier to be completed, including the renewal of windows, doors, terrazzo flooring, Minton and Hollins tiles and a new tunnel entrance structure.

It follows an earlier development grant of £53,200 to develop a detailed funding bid, activity plan and conservation plan as well as further design and interpretation work and a management and maintenance plan.

Welcoming the award, Cabinet Secretary, Councillor Mel Speding, said: "Roker Pier is one of Sunderland's best loved landmarks but there's no doubt that more than a century of winter storms and buffeting waves have taken their toll on the pier, placing it at risk.

"So we're delighted to have secured this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will enable us to complete the work we started a couple of years ago to restore the pier to its former glory for the enjoyment of future generations.

"We also want to open up the lighthouse and tunnel for public tours, giving more people the chance to visit them and experience the sense of history you find there, so we're looking at paid tours led by the newly formed volunteer group, ‘Roker Heritage Group’. They're really enthusiastic about the project and it's great to have local people with such a keen interest on board with these plans."

Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: "Roker Pier is an impressive example of Victorian engineering and played a crucial role in the creation of the wider Sunderland Dock, shaping the area as we know it today. Our investment means that Sunderland City Council can begin work in earnest to not only restore and enhance the historic fabric of the pier, lighthouse and underground tunnels, but also put it right back at the heart of the community, providing much-needed opportunities for social and economic regeneration."

As part of the project, the Council is also seeking to establish a volunteer group to deliver various events and activities involving schools, higher education establishments and community groups.

These are being supported by SAFC's 1879 Events and will see a new exhibition space installed within the nearby Beach House Café which will display archive material and video tours.

There are also plans to catalogue and digitise part of the River Wear Commissioners archive so it can be viewed by people in Sunderland without the need to go to Newcastle.

Construction work is expected to begin in early summer and to be completed by the winter. The pier will remain open during the majority of the work, although access to the area around the lighthouse itself will be restricted to allow work to go ahead.

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2013 marked 21 years since Sunderland city status from HM The Queen, on 23rd March 1992.

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