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Orfordness Lighthouse teeters on brink after relentless erosion

PUBLISHED: 21:31 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:58 25 January 2020

The foundations of Orfordness Lighthouse have exposed due to erosion Picture: STEVE TAYLOR

The foundations of Orfordness Lighthouse have exposed due to erosion Picture: STEVE TAYLOR

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Dramatic images demonstrate just how close the threatened Orfordness Lighthouse is to the shoreline following years of coastal erosion.

Bags protecting against erosion lie on the beach at Orfordness Picture: STEVE TAYLORBags protecting against erosion lie on the beach at Orfordness Picture: STEVE TAYLOR

The pictures, taken by lifeboat crews at Aldeburgh, show the foundations of the decommissioned lighthouse are now exposed to the elements.

Pipes and wires dangle freely from the base of the near-100ft tower, which was decommissioned in 2013.

The lighthouse's proximity to the coast may now speed up plans to take it apart brick-by-brick and rebuild it elsewhere on the Ness.

The grade II-listed lighthouse remains an iconic landmark in Suffolk, having been originally built 228 years ago.

The distance from the lighthouse to the shoreline was around 20m in 2005 Picture: MIKE PAGEThe distance from the lighthouse to the shoreline was around 20m in 2005 Picture: MIKE PAGE

However, rapid coastal erosion has threatened the tower - with the distance to the shoreline measuring around 20m as recently as 2005.

This distance had halved by 2015.

The Orfordness Lighthouse Trust (OLT), who purchased the lighthouse seven years ago, have made numerous attempts to safeguard its future and stave off the threat of erosion.

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In an initiative that was dubbed 'Operation Sausage Roll', sacks filled with shingle and sand wrapped in a geo-textile material - resembling sausages - were placed along the coastline.

OLT hoped the scheme, which was made possible by £10,000 of fundraising, would give the lighthouse another 20 years of life.

However, the fragility of the shingle has lead to relentless erosion, with the tower now teetering on the brink.

It has already been announced that the nearby century-old Coastguard Station, which is just yards away from the lighthouse, is to be demolished before it is "lost to the sea", owners the National Trust have said.

Last July, OLT admitted defeat in their attempts to protect the lighthouse against the encroaching sea and unveiled their new plan - moving the tower somewhere else.

An OLT spokesman said: "We have no intention of letting her 'fall into the sea' and never have.

"We intend to dismantle her brick by brick and rebuild a smaller replica elsewhere on Orford Ness and turn her in a museum. Trinity House have said they will return items such as the lantern to us in such a scenario.

"Because of the very mobile nature of the shingle we have always caveated that a bad storm with winds in a certain direction could threaten the structure."

OLT have been approached for comment.

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