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TLC Time For Our Much Loved North East Landmarks

Some of the most iconic and much loved landmarks in the North East are getting some much needed TLC. These landmarks are no longer spring chickens, with the youngest of the group nearly 100 years old and the oldest nearly 150, so it's fair enough that they need a little help to get back to their best again. While some have simply been the victim of aging, others have been significantly damaged by storms and fires.

Typically much of the repair work is happening over the summer and will therefore impact those looking for activities and day trips over the summer holidays. So here is a little list of some landmarks affected with links to useful articles...

1. St MAry's Lighthouse

St Mary's Lighthouse has stood on St Mary's Island (previously called, but sometimes still known as, Bates Island after the Bates family who once owned it) for 126 years. While it no longer functions as a lighthouse, it's a popular visitor attraction with those interested in the history of the lighthouse, those who like to watch the seals on the surrounding rocks, or those who fancy a bit of rockpooling to look for crabs in the pools around the causeway. Recently, however, the lighthouse has fallen into some level of disrepair and the usual bright white tower is a strange shade of green, so it's great to hear that this year, St Mary's Lighthouse will be repaired and repainted and brought back to it's former beautiful glory. The causeway and lighthouse will be shut for much of the summer however, to allow this to happen. You can read more about the repairs to, and closure of, St Mary's Lighthouse HERE.

2. Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge might be the youngest of the group here, but is still nearly 100 years old as it opened in 1928. It's a true icon of the North East, a stunning piece of engineering, and home to one of the world's furthest inland kittiwake colonies, however in the last few years it has been looking very sorry for itself and surveys of the bridge found significant levels of corrosion, so it needed a hefty dose of TLC! It's a huge undertaking to repair the bridge to the best standard, so this work is going to take literally years. You can find more about the repairs to the Tyne Bridge and how it might affect you (and the kittiwakes that live there) over the coming years HERE.

3. Saltburn-by-the-sea cliff lift

Saltburn Funicular Railway is a stunning feat of engineering and has maintained it's Victorian charm since it began transporting people between the town and beach back in 1884. Riding on the cliff lift was a proper highlight of our trip to Saltburn a couple of years ago and I usually recommend it to anyone that goes. However, in January 2024, during a planned maintenance closure, Saltburn Cliff Lift sadly suffered a significant fire and has been closed since. Work is underway to repair the lift but there is no date yet for it to be reopened. You can find out more about the repairs to Saltburn cliff lift HERE.

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4. Herd Groyne lighthouse

Herd Groyne Lighthouse is the oldest of our group here at 142 years young this year, and remarkably is one of the few North East lighthouses still in operation, providing not only light signals, but also a foghorn, to guide ships safely into the mouth of the River Tyne. The little red lighthouse, which always reminds me of a rocket, has a lot of fond memories associated with it for many in the area, including my gran who as a child would stand on it and wave her Dad off to sea. So I was thrilled to hear that this year Herd Groyne Lighthouse will get a £250,000 restoration to keep it going for more decades to come. You can read more about the repairs to Herd Groyne Lighthouse HERE.

5. Roker Pier

Roker pier and lighthouse has stood guarding the mouth of the River Wear since 1903 and the lighthouse remains operational today. After a significant restoration in 2012, the lighthouse and pier was also a popular attraction with visitors marvelling at the engineering prowess on display. However, in autumn of last year, Roker Pier, along with many other landmarks on the North East coast, was significantly damaged by storms, and has been closed since. Recently, however, it has been announced that a budget has been agreed by Sunderland council to allow work to begin on repairing the pier. You can read more about the repairs to, and closure of, Roker Pier and Lighthouse HERE.

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We've already lost one of our great northern landmarks, we need to look after the rest!

J xx


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