Lowestoft Lighthouse

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Lowestoft Lighthouse
Lowestoft Lighthouse from the promenade (geograph 3985740).jpg
Lowestoft Lighthouse
Lowestoft Lighthouse is located in Suffolk
Lowestoft Lighthouse
LocationLowestoft, Suffolk
Coordinates52°29′13.2″N 1°45′21.4″E / 52.487000°N 1.755944°E / 52.487000; 1.755944Coordinates: 52°29′13.2″N 1°45′21.4″E / 52.487000°N 1.755944°E / 52.487000; 1.755944
Year first constructed1609 (first)
1628 (second)
1676 (third)
Year first lit1874 (current)
ConstructionBrick tower
Tower shapeCylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / patternWhite tower and lantern
Tower height16 m (52 ft)
Focal height37 m (121 ft)
Current lens4th order 250mm twin spectacle catadioptric
Intensity380,000 candela
Range23 nmi (43 km)
CharacteristicWhite rotating – flashing once every 15 seconds
Admiralty numberA2280
NGA number1620
ARLHS numberENG 072
Managing agentTrinity House[1]
HeritageGrade II listed building Edit this on Wikidata

Lowestoft Lighthouse is a lighthouse operated by Trinity House located to the north of the centre of Lowestoft in the English county of Suffolk. It stands on the North Sea coast close to Ness Point, the most easterly point in the United Kingdom. It acts as a warning light for shipping passing along the east coast and is the most easterly lighthouse in the UK.

The lighthouse was built in 1874 and stands 16 metres (52 ft) tall, 37 metres (121 ft) above sea level. The light, which has a range of 23 nautical miles (43 km; 26 mi), was automated in 1975.[2] The original lighthouses at Lowestoft, which were established in 1609, were the first lights to be built by Trinity House.[3][4]


The old High Light in 1851.

The first two lighthouses in Lowestoft were built in 1609, on the foreshore warn shipping of dangerous sandbanks around the coast. Both were lit originally by candles. By lining up the two lights, vessels could navigate the Stamford Channel which no longer exists. They were rebuilt in 1628 and again in 1676. It was at this time that one light was moved up onto the cliffs above the Denes - the location of the present lighthouse - to assist vessels further out to sea;[2][5] this new 'High Light' was lit using a coal fire brazier.[6]

The remaining 'Low Light' was discontinued in 1706 following sea encroachment, but then re-established in 1730 in a form that could be easily moved in response to further changes to the Stamford Channel and shoreline. It was equipped with an open-cupped oil lamp which burned sperm oil.[6] In 1777 the brazier in the High Light was replaced with an innovative form of reflector known as a 'spangle light': several oil lamps were set in a circle around a central column on which were glued 4,000 tiny mirrors; it was said to be visible some 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) out to sea.[6] In 1796 improvements were made to both towers and they were each provided with Argand lamps and parabolic reflectors.[7]

In 1830 the Low Light was again rebuilt;[8] it was described as 'a lantern on a framing of timber upon a brick foundation'.[7] In the mid-19th century both towers still had Argand lamps and reflectors (eleven of each in the High Light, three in the Low Light); they both displayed a fixed white light. In 1866 the Low Light was again rebuilt, this time as a wrought iron structure,[9] 515 yards (471 m) from the previous Low Light (the position of the Stamford Channel having altered).[10] This light (which was also known as Lowestoftness Lighthouse)[11] was provided with a new second-order fixed catadioptric optic designed by James Timmins Chance;[12] it now shone red out to sea but with two white sectors indicating the safe inshore water (or Roads) to the north and the south. It was also provided with a fog bell, which sounded three times every fifteen seconds.[13][14]

The new High Light, c. 1890

In 1870 the decision was taken to electrify the High Light,[15] and because the tower itself was deemed not to be strong enough to support the new arc lamp and other equipment it had to be rebuilt.[2] The new tower (the present lighthouse) was completed in 1874;[5] however, due to the successful development of paraffin oil as an efficient and economical illuminant in the meantime, the new tower was equipped with paraffin burners instead.[6] The new High Light was provided with a revolving dioptric optic manufactured by Chance & co., an 'octagonal drum of lenses' which flashed white every thirty seconds.[16] A fixed red light was also displayed, from a window lower down in the tower, towards Corton Sands to the north-east. In 1881, the Low Light was again improved and showed an occulting light[17]

The Low Light was discontinued in August 1923, the Stanford Channel no longer being navigable.[6] In 1938 the High Light was electrified and the current fourth-order 'twin' optic was installed.[18] The light was automated in 1975 and further modernised in 1997,[2] since when it has been monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Planning Centre in Harwich.

The lighthouse, along with Southwold lighthouse to the south, was threatened with closure by Trinity House in 2005, with shipping companies increasingly using satellite navigation systems rather than relying on lighthouses.[19][20] Both lighthouses were reprieved in 2009 following a review by Trinity House that found that satellite navigation systems were not yet sufficiently reliable.[21]

Current display[edit]

The main light at Lowestoft uses a 4th order 250mm catadioptric lens with a range of 23 nautical miles (43 km; 26 mi). The current light characteristic is one white flash every 15 seconds (Fl(1).W.15s).[2][22] The lighthouse, along with two cottages originally used by lighthouse keepers, is a Grade II listed building.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lowestoft The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lowestoft, Trinity House. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  3. ^ History of the Corporation, Trinity House, 2014. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
  4. ^ Labrum EA (1994) 22. Lowestoft Lighthouse, in Civil Engineering Heritage: Eastern and central England, pp.132–133, Thomas Telford.
  5. ^ a b c High Lighthouse Including North Cottage and South Cottage, Waveney, British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
  6. ^ a b c d e Woodman, Richard; Wilson, Jane (2002). The Lighthouses of Trinity House. Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts.: Thomas Reed. pp. 96–97.
  7. ^ a b "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 2". pp. 72–73.
  8. ^ Drawing, 1856.
  9. ^ "Lighthouses (photo of Low Light and adjacent keepers' house)". Lowestoft Maritime Museum. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  10. ^ The Handbook of Lowestoft and its Neighbourhood. Historical and Descriptive. Lowestoft: J. Chapman. 1866. p. 76.
  11. ^ Edwards, E. Price (1884). Our Seamarks: a plain account of the Lighthouses, Lightships, Beacons, Buoys, and Fog-signals maintained on our Coasts. London: Longmans, Green & co. p. 182. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  12. ^ Chance, James Francis (1902). The Lighthouse Work of Sir James Chance, Bt (PDF). London: Smith, Elder & co. p. 160. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  13. ^ List of Lights of the Atlantic Coast of Europe. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1871. pp. 76–77.
  14. ^ Admiralty chart of 1885.
  15. ^ Elliot, George H. (1875). European Light-House Systems. London: Lockwood & co. p. 248. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  16. ^ Kelly, E. R. (1879). Post Office Directory of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. London: Kelly & co. p. 929.
  17. ^ Davenport Adams, W. H. (1891). The Story of our Lighthouses and Lightships: Descriptive and Historical (PDF). London, Edinburgh & New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons. p. 138. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  18. ^ Cooper, F. W. (1979). Twenty Years in Lighthouses (PDF). United States Lighthouse Society. p. 65. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  19. ^ Landmark lighthouses may be axed, BBC News, 4 August 2005. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  20. ^ Barnes, Jonathan. (4 August 2005). Historic lighthouses face closure, East Anglian Daily Times, Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  21. ^ Lighthouse wins reprieve as sat nav for ships not reliable enough, The Daily Telegraph, 9 January 2009. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
  22. ^ Lowestoft Lighthouse, Lighthouse Duo. Retrieved 2016-08-31.

External links[edit]