Penshaw Monument, Sunderland, England.
Firstly, from Sunderland City Centre, follow the River Wear upstream for five miles and discover Penshaw Monument. Indeed, this old folly is the North East’s biggest and best loved landmarks. Penshaw Monument has symbolised and represented the North East for over 150 years and will continue to do so. In fact, the monument or folly, is the best specimen of a Doric Hexastyle temple in Britain today.
It has the officially name, The Earl of Durham’s Monument, but we all know it as Penshaw Monument. As a matter of fact, this 70 foot high folly is a replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. On the whole, it is visible from Wearside, Tyneside and much of County Durham. Of course, in 1974 there was a forced marriage between Wearside and Tyneside. Thus, the unloved county of Tyne and Wear came about. Obviously until then, Penshaw Monument was in County Durham as was Sunderland! However, as the saying goes for North East folk ‘once you can see Penshaw Monument, you know you are home’.
Tragedy Closes The Rooftop
Disaster struck on Easter Monday 1926 when a 15-year-old boy fell to his death from the top of Penshaw Monument. The boy, Temperley Arthur Scott, was with three friends and 20 other people when the accident happened. They had indeed reached the roof via the spiral staircase in one of the pillars. Witnesses said that the boys went round the roof walkway twice before deciding to make a third circuit. However, Scott fell trying to avoid the other visitors. Of course this happened when he was passing around an open end where there was no protecting wall. After that incident, the spiral staircase to the roof became closed to the public.
Special Open Days
Indeed, there was a special opening on 29 August 2011. Moreover, on this day, the public were able to access to the spiral staircase. Then of course, views from the top of the Monument. Obviously, this was an initial test to see if it was popular enough to open again for future one-off days. Moreover, the National Trust did not take bookings, the public simply turned up on the day.
News that Penshaw Monument was to hold an open day obviously spread far and wide. As a result, this information reached many Wearside and North East exiles. Consequently, they jumped at the chance of climbing to the top. It was so popular that more than 2000 people turned up. Indeed, they were hoping to experience the thrill of reaching the roof of the monument. However, not all those who turned up were able to go to the top of the Monument. In fact, most never got access. This was because there was simply not enough time to allow everyone access to the roof. However, they had an option to be first in line on the next open day.
Underpinning took place in 1978 owing to settlement due to mining beneath the hill. In fact, the next year, the entire western end had a facelift. Indeed, damaged lintels needed replacing. On the whole, a painstaking job removing block by block with extreme care.
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