Roker Pier may still be closed for repairs due to the storm last year but there’s plenty of work going on behind the scenes.
Roker Pier may still be closed for repairs due to the storm last year but there’s plenty of work going on behind the scenes. We’re making sure that when the pier reopens, we’re ready to launch tours of the Roker pier, tunnel and lighthouse.
With this in mind, our group of volunteers recently visited the Victoria Tunnel in Ouseburn, Newcastle. We wanted to discover how the volunteers at the Victoria Tunnel ran their tours. And we wanted to find out whether there were lessons we could learn when offering our tunnel tours to the public under Roker Pier.
As a volunteer with the Roker Heritage Group, I went along on the trip to the Victoria Tunnel in Ouseburn – and I was very impressed with it all.
The tour begins at the Victoria Tunnel visitor centre opposite Seven Stories in Ouseburn. Our group was greeted by friendly, professional volunteers and given a very warm welcome. We were issued with torches and after a health and safety talk about what to expect in the tunnel, we followed the guide for a short walk along the river to the tunnel. En-route to the tunnel entrance, the guide gave us information about the Ouseburn area, its history and redevelopment, which was fascinating to hear and helped put the tunnel into context.
Once at the tunnel entrance we were issued with hard hats before the group was led inside. The tour covers the history of the Victoria Tunnel from its use as a 19th century waggonway to its conversion into an air raid shelter during WWII. The volunteer guides do a fantastic job of bringing this history to life. The full tour lasts two hours, but shorter one hour tours are offered during school holidays.
Our volunteers took the full two hour tour and came out afterwards full of praise. It comes as no surprise that the quality of the tour puts Victoria Tunnel at the No. 1 spot on Tripadvisor for paid attractions in Newcastle. Their volunteers won the Best Volunteer Team Award at the 2015 North East Museum Volunteer Awards too, and rightly so.
When Roker Pier & Lighthouse reopens to the public, we truly hope – and will certainly aim – to provide as friendly and professional a service to our visitors as we received at the Victoria Tunnel. Our thanks go to Clive and his team.
You can find out more about the Victoria Tunnel at www.ouseburntrust.org.uk
And if you’d like to find out more about volunteering with Roker Heritage Group, the information is here: www.rokerpier.co.uk/volunteer-us
By Glenda Young
Roker Heritage Group Volunteer