One of the world’s most famous lighthouses is in danger of crumbling away thanks to the penny pinchers at the Corporation of Trinity House, the organization that oversees the lighthouses of England, Wales and in some other British territorial waters.
Although the officials of Trinity House feature the Beachy Head Lighthouse on their Christmas card they have decided the lighthouse is too expensive to paint. Instead they will allow its red band and red lantern room to fade into the White Cliffs of Dover.
Completed in 1902, below the 530 foot wall of white chalk that compromises the White Cliffs of Dover in England, the construction of the Beachy Head Lighthouse was an engineering marvel of its time.
Last year Trinity House wanted to extinguish the light in the tower but they backed off after protests from mariners. Now they say that because of modern on-board aids to navigation, the lighthouse is no longer needed as a day-mark for the mariner. This leads to the question; if modern mariners don’t need landmarks during the day, then they presumably don’t need a light at night?
Thousands of tourists flock to the edge of the cliffs each year to view and photograph the lighthouse. In fact there has been a lighthouse in the area here as early as 1670. The current 142-foot tall Beachy Head Lighthouse was built to replace the 1828 Belle Tout Lighthouse, which is now privately owned.
When the red paint fades from the Beachy Head Lighthouse the tower will fade into the background of the White Cliffs of Dover and without proper care, the bricks and mortar will start to crumble and eventually the lighthouse will be lost forever.
Naturally the decision by Trinity House to no longer maintain the Beachy Head Lighthouse has caused quite an uproar in England. Perhaps that’s what Trinity House wanted; so that the locals would raise the money to paint the iconic structure.
This story appeared in the
Nov/Dec 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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