Gunfleet Lighthouse

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Gunfleet Lighthouse
Gunfleet Sands Lighthouse geograph - 2091161.jpg
Distant view taken in 2010
Locationoffshore of Frinton-on-Sea
Coordinates51°46′08″N 1°20′30″E / 51.76889°N 1.34167°E / 51.76889; 1.34167Coordinates: 51°46′08″N 1°20′30″E / 51.76889°N 1.34167°E / 51.76889; 1.34167
Built byJames Walker Edit this on Wikidata
Constructionscrew-pile tower
Height72 metres (236 ft)
Shapehexagonal tower with keeper's quarter, balcony and lantern
OperatorGunfleet Sands Windfarm[1]
First lit1856
Deactivated1921 Edit this on Wikidata

Gunfleet Lighthouse[2] is a derelict screw-pile lighthouse lying in the North Sea, six miles off the coast at Frinton-on-Sea in Essex, constructed in 1850 by James Walker of Trinity House. George Henry Saunders was the contractor. Walker and Burges were the Engineers.[3] It is 74 feet (23 m) in height and hexagonal in plan; mounted on seven piles forming a steel lattice and originally painted red.[4] It was first lit on 1 May 1856, replacing a light vessel which had been on station there since 1850.[5]

When in use, the lighthouse was staffed by two keepers. They were accommodated in a single-storey dwelling, immediately below the lantern, which was divided into a living room (also used as a kitchen), a bed room and an oil room (in which the fuel for the lamps was stored). The walls and roof were of corrugated iron, with wrought iron angle plates. Additional storage space was provided in the 'inverted pyramid' beneath the dwelling, which was accessed by a ladder from the gallery.[6]

The light flashed red once every 30 seconds; it was lit using Argand lamps and reflectors mounted on a revolving triangular frame, with a pane of red glass mounted in front of each reflector. Initially nine lamps and reflectors were used (three groups of three),[7] but the number was later increased to fifteen (three groups of five).[6] It also had a fog bell, which sounded once every ten seconds in bad weather; like the lamp mechanism, it was driven by clockwork.[8]

In 1908 the light was upgraded to flash red once every fifteen seconds;[9] thereafter it was listed as a dioptric light (i.e. equipped with lenses rather than reflectors).[10]

The light and fog signal continued to be listed as active into the 1940s,[11] but by 1951 it had been decommissioned.[12]

It remains in use as an automated weather station by the Port of London Authority,[4] and marks the northern limit of their jurisdiction.[13]

In 1974 an attempt was made to use the lighthouse as a base for the pirate radio station Radio Atlantis but this was thwarted by the authorities.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Southeastern England". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Day".
  3. ^ "Gunfleet Lighthouse". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Gunfleet Lighthouse". Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Nautical Intelligence". The Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review. 35 (1): 105. July 1856.
  6. ^ a b "Light-houses". Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine. XIV (LXXXVI): 102. February 1876.
  7. ^ "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 1". 1861. p. 33.
  8. ^ "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 2". 1861. p. 77.
  9. ^ London Gazette, Issue: 28149, Page:4483, 19 June 1908.
  10. ^ "Pile Lighthouses. Typical Data". Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. 44: 230. February 1921.
  11. ^ "British Islands, English Channel and North Sea". List of Lights and Fog Signals (33): 76. 1946.
  12. ^ Sailing Directions for the East Coast of England. United States Naval Oceanographic Office. 1951. p. 214.
  13. ^ "Tide Tables and Port Information" (PDF). Port of London Authority. p. 8. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  14. ^ "Gunfleet Lighthouse". Offshore Radio Museum. Retrieved 20 December 2016.

External links[edit]