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10 remarkable facts about Roker Pier & Lighthouse

Roker Pier & Lighthouse holds over a century’s worth of facts and stories.  A Grade II listed building, Roker Pier & Lighthouse has a remarkably rich history of its own, as well as that it shares with the wider areas of Roker, Seaburn and of course Sunderland as a whole.

We’ve spent a lot of time digging around and discovering as much about our lighthouse as possible and we thought you might like to learn more about what we’ve found out.

1. Roker lighthouse, with its distinctive red and grey hoops is an incredible 23 metres tall

2. Work on the pier and lighthouse started on the 14th September 1885 and it was completed and opened to the public on the 23rd September 1903 – that’s 18 years and 9 days in total

3. The pier which reaches out into the North Sea is 609 metres long which is about the same length as 47 humpback whales

4. The brains behind Roker Pier & Lighthouse, Henry Hay Wake became Chief Engineer of the River Wear Commissioners in 1868 when he was just 25 years old

5. The huge crane which lifted the giant granite-faced concrete blocks which make up the pier was so big it was nicknamed ‘Goliath’

6. If you look closely enough, you’ll see sky lights on the pier which let daylight through to the tunnel below

7. The rails that can be seen running along the top of the pier deck were for a locomotive engine which pulled the wagons from the blockyard ready to be put in place by the crane

8. During the opening ceremony of Roker Pier, a toast was made to the King and the Royal Family, the Earl of Durham who opened the pier, The Mayor and Corporation of Sunderland and Henry Hay Wake

9. The celebration dinner marking the pier’s completion had a four course menu which included oxtail soup, rabbit pies, boiled leg of mutton with caper sauce, fruit tarts and a cheese course

10. Along the tunnel which runs beneath the pier, there are four plaques on the walls which show the initials of each of Henry Hay Wake’s children

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Coming to visit?
Our office is in the Adventure Sunderland Building next to Fausto on Marine Walk about 30 metres from the end of the pier. But volunteers are only based there to meet visitors on tour days, so to contact us at other times please email

If you’re using satellite navigation our address is
Adventure Sunderland, 
Marine Walk,

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