Work to repair Sunderland’s historic piers and sea defences is ongoing after the immense battering they received in storms earlier this year.
Repairs are underway on the New South Pier, which dates back to 1893. Constructed using a gas-driven crane on rails, New South Pier wasn’t completely finished until 1912. The pier incorporates a nine-foot-high wall along its entire length, into which are set 40 arched recesses to protect people from storms.
Recent repair work on the pier has involved recovering its granite copings from the sea and reinstating them on the pier. An incredible 58 metres of granite coping were dislodged by the storms.
In addition, significant work has been undertaken on the pier’s concrete slab deck after 420 square metres of the decking were lost thanks to storms and heavy seas.
Repairs have also been carried out on Stonehill Wall and the Old North Pier, which has seen geotextile matting and rock armour installed.
These three structures are vital sea defences for the Port of Sunderland. Sunderland City Council gave the go-ahead for the repairs at a meeting in April, allocating £3.1 million for the work from the capital budget.
Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for environment and transport, Cllr Amy Wilson, said, “As with many other towns and cities along the east coast, our sea defences took a battering during the winter and spring storms.”
“The repairs have been about making sure the damage does not get any worse in the future. I, and others, are pleased with the progress we’ve been making on these repairs.”
County Durham contractors Esh Construction have been working alongside the council’s Coastal Team on the repairs.
Esh’s divisional director, Steve Conn, said, “It’s great to be working alongside the city council on these vital works.”
“Severe storms hit large parts of the coastal infrastructure earlier this year and time is critical to ensure repairs are completed prior to winter.”
“The challenge of constructing or repairing any structure in a marine environment is a complex logistical operation that can be disrupted by weather at any time of year. It all requires careful and detailed planning.”
Sunderland City Council’s head of infrastructure and transportation, Mark Jackson, said, “March’s severe storms had a major impact on several of our city’s important coastal structures.”
“These repairs are about preventing the damage from getting worse, reducing the risks of costs mounting up in the future, and securing a major part of our city’s infrastructure.”
Sunderland’s piers and sea defences hit the national news recently, when Roker Pier and Lighthouse were declared by The Guardian newspaper to be among the top ten piers in the world. The article praised the views from the lighthouse, the tunnel under the pier and the fish and chips available near the pier’s entrance.