Dark future for lighthouse

AN HISTORIC lighthouse that has helped ships navigate around the dangerous coastline of East Anglia for more than two centuries could crumble into the sea.

AN HISTORIC lighthouse that has helped ships navigate around the dangerous coastline of East Anglia for more than two centuries could crumble into the sea.

The distinctive red and white striped Orfordness lighthouse is under threat as the waves it has protected ships from carve away the land around it.

Since July about two metres of the fragile shingle beach has been lost and the sea is now edging closer to the lighthouse's foundations.

Keith Seaman, attendant at the lighthouse since 1994, said: "At the present rate of decline we are getting towards a serious situation. The waves do not have to be right next to the lighthouse to undermine the foundations.


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"I have seen two ex-Ministry of Defence buildings fall into the sea. The foundations are still there in the beach.

"They were small but complete buildings with roofs and doors but they are now no more. The pieces of concrete are all that you see left behind.

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"I would hate to see that structure, which has stood there for 220 years, fall into the sea."

Howard Cooper, spokesman for Trinity House, which provides lighthouses, said a meeting will be held in the next couple of weeks to determine the future of the structure, which dates back to 1792.

Mr Cooper said: "It is a very dangerous area of coastline, with banks and shoals off shore so we see it as a very important aid to navigation.

"The coastal defences will have to be shored up or the alternative is a newer structure. We will have to look at the most cost-effective option.

He added: "It is a shame but it's all the question of coastal erosion and it is very hard to hold back the sea. Our prime priority is the mariner that uses the aids that we provide."

There has been a lighthouse on the site since 1634. There were two lighthouses at one stage but one low tower was abandoned to the sea at the end of the 19th century.

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