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Tyne and Wear HER(4975): Roker, Roker Pier Lighthouse - Details

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Roker, Roker Pier Lighthouse




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Work began on the construction of the roundhead for the lighthouse in 1902 (the pier was begun in 1885). The first stone was laid by GR Booth, R Thompson and RM Hudson of the River Wear Commission. The foundations for the lighthouse used the same method as the pier - concrete bags. Once these were positioned and levelled, a huge cast iron caisson was floated out and sunk in position. The caisson was filled with 10,000 tons of concrete. The superstructure above this comprised 43 granite face blocks like those used in the main pier. The total weight of the roundhead was around 23,000 tons. The lighthouse was built of alternating red and grey Aberdeen granite (lighthouses are commonly painted red and white to make them highly visible). The granite has weathered so is not as vibrant as it would have been originally. The lantern, by Messrs Chance Brothers of Birmingham, was gas powered and had eight sides forming an octagonal prism around the lamp. The lens and reflectors moved by clockwork. The mechanism for this was carried by a float placed in a vat of mercury. The illumination was visible for 15 miles. A complete set of oil lamps was installed in the event of failure of the gas supply. The lighthouse and pier were completed in 1903. The final stone was set above the lighthouse door: 'THE FOUNDATION BLOCK OF THIS PIER WAS LAID ON THE 14TH OF SEPTEMBER 1885 BY JAMES LAING, ESQUIRE, CHAIRMAN OF THE RIVER WEAR COMMISSION. TO RECORD ITS COMPLETION THIS STONE WAS PLACED IN POSITION ON THE 23RD SEPTEMBER 1903 BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF DURHAM, LORD LIEUTENANT OF THE COUNTY; JENNESON TAYLOR, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSIONERS; HENRY HAY WAKE, MEM. INST. C. E. ENGINNER'. In May 1904 the gas burners were replaced by cheaper vapourised petroleum which gave a brighter light. The gas burners were retained as a backup. In 1986 the original cut and polished prismatic lens was replaced by a gearless pedestal with a range of 23 miles. In 2007 the new pedestal was replaced with a more energy efficient PRL400 system, by Pelangi International Ltd {info taken from NAA 2012}.




<< HER 4975 >> I. Ayris & S.M. Linsley, 1994, A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Tyne and Wear, p 23 Dept. of National Heritage, of Buildings of Special ... Interest, 920-1/5/182 G.E. Milburn & S.T. Miller, 1988, Sunderland River, Town and People, p 19; Penny Middleton, Northern Archaeological Associates, 2012, Roker Lighthouse and Pier, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear - Archaeological Building Recording and Statement of Significance; D Bell, 1904, The Sunderland Year Book; W Cranmer, 1919, The History of Sunderland; P O'Brien and P Gibson, 1997, Seaburn and Roker; LF Pearson, 1998, Lighthouses; River Wear Commissions Archive (ICW) held by Tyne and Wear Archives; plans by the River Wear Commission held by Sunderland Port Authority Archive; Northern Archaeological Associates, 2014, Roker Lighthouse and Pier, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear - Conservation Management and Maintenance Plan

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