The building of the Tynemouth and South Shields piers was essential to protect ships entering and leaving the Tyne.
Before their construction, the mouth of the river was exposed to the full force of the sea and ships were frequently wrecked.
To make the Tyne accessible to vessels of all sizes, nine engineers presented designs for two piers to the Tyne Improvement Commissioners – the predecessors of the Port of Tyne.
The chosen design was by James Walker, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the foundation stones were laid in 1854.
Work was slow as heavy weather repeatedly interrupted construction and it wasn’t until 1895 that the structures were finally complete.
Just two years later, the curved Tynemouth Pier was almost destroyed in a storm and its lighthouse was left disconnected and large sections of the walkway disappeared.
The remaining parts of the pier were consequently demolished and rebuilt to a straighter line designed by John Wolfe-Barry, probably best known for designing and constructing Tower Bridge in London.
Together with the navigational buoys, the Tynemouth, South Shields and Herd Groyne lighthouses are fully functioning and operated by Port of Tyne as a navigational aid for ships approaching and entering the River Tyne
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