North Foreland Lighthouse
|Year first constructed||1636 (first)|
|Year first lit||1691 (current)|
|Tower shape||octagonal prism tower with balcony and lantern attaches to a 2-storey keeper's house|
|Markings / pattern||white tower and lantern|
|Height||26 m (85 ft)|
|Focal height||57 m (187 ft)|
|Current lens||1st order catadioptric fixed lens|
|Light source||4 x 230V 500W halogen lamps|
|Range||19 nmi (35 km; 22 mi)|
Fl (5) RW 20s.
The necessity for a lighthouse at this place must have become apparent when the Goodwin Sands became dangerous and when it was found that in directing their course so as to keep clear of this land which extends so far into the sea ships were extremely liable to strike on the sands at night before they were aware.
There was probably some sort of a beacon at an earlier period but the first distinct intimation concerning a lighthouse on the North Foreland is in the year 1636 when Charles I by letters-patent granted to Sir John Meldrum licence to continue and renew the lighthouses erected on the North and South Forelands.
It seems that the lighthouse erected by Sir John consisted merely of a house built with timber lath and plaster on the top of which a light was kept in a large glass lantern for the purpose of directing ships in their course. This house was burnt down by accident in the year 1683 after which for some years use was made of a sort of beacon on which a light was hoisted. But near the end of the same century a strong octagonal structure of flint was erected on the top of which was an iron grate quite open to the air in which a good fire of coals was kept blazing at night.
About the year 1732 the top of this lighthouse was covered with a sort of lantern with large sash windows and the fire was kept bright by bellows with which the attendants blew throughout the night. This contrivance is said to have been for the purpose of saving coals but it would seem more probable that it was in order to preserve the fire from being extinguished by rain. However the plan did not work well and great injury resulted to navigation as many vessels were lost on the sands from not seeing the light and so little was it visible at sea that mariners asserted that they had often in hazy weather seen the Foreland before they could discover the light. They added that before the lantern was placed there and when the fire was kept in the open air the wind kept the fire in a constant blaze which was seen in the air far above the lighthouse. Complaints of this sort were so loud and frequent that the governors of Greenwich Hospital to whom the lighthouse belonged sent Sir John Thomson to examine and make arrangements on the subject. He ordered the lantern to be taken away and things to be restored to nearly their former state the light to continue burning all the night until daylight.
Towards the end of the 18th century the North Foreland Lighthouse underwent some considerable alterations and repairs. Two stories of brick were built on the original structure which raised it to the height of 100 feet including the room at the top in which the lights were kept. To prevent accidents from fire it was coated with copper as was also the gallery around it. This gallery used to be much frequented by the visitors to Margate on account of the extensive views.
In 1860 under the supervision of engineer Henry Norris the light was changed to a dioptric manufactured by Sautter & Co. of Paris, replacing the previous catoptric apparatus of 18 Argand lamps & reflectors and the two keepers cottages added. These works coincided with and were part of the successful experiments carried out in 1857-60 at the lighthouse by Professor Frederick Hale Holmes with an alternating current electric arc light which were the subject of a lecture by Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution. This preceded by a decade the construction of the world's first lighthouse designed for such a light, Souter Lighthouse.
During World War II a number of radar stations were set up by German forces in France and the Netherlands to detect allied aircraft flying across the English Channel and a chain of top secret radar jamming stations were set up by British scientists along the south east coast of Britain. An array of transmitters was set out around the gallery of the lighthouse controlled by equipment in the lower lantern as part of this chain.
The North Foreland lighthouse was the last manned lighthouse in the UK but was automated in a ceremony presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1998. Dermot Cronin was one of last Principal Lighthouse Keepers that manned North Foreland lighthouse.
Currently, the cottages around the lighthouse can be rented as holiday accommodation.
- The Battle of the Gabbard, 2–3 June 1653, in the First Anglo-Dutch War.
- The St. James's Day Battle, 25–26 July 1666, in the Second Anglo-Dutch War.
- TR 39860 69616
- North Foreland The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved May 3rd, 2016
- North Foreland Lighthouse Trinity House. Retrieved May 3rd, 2016
- The Penny Magazine. 19 September 1835. pp.365
- "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 2". p. 79.
- "Lighthouse Illumination by Magneto-Electricity". The Dublin Builder. August 15, 1864. p. 14.
an agreement was made for a trial at the South Foreland, but it was not till the of December that this experiment at an actual lighthouse was commenced... M. Reynaud, the Director-General of the French Lighthouses, inspected the light on April 20, 1859; it was visited by most of the members of the Royal Commission of Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, including myself, three days afterwards, and on the same day Professor Faraday wrote a report to the Trinity House. The opinions expressed were so far favourable that the Elder Brethren desired a further trial of six months, during which time the light was to be entirely under their own control, Mr. Holmes not being allowed interfere in any way. The light was again kindled on August 22
- "Newcastle Courant". 30 March 1860. p. 3.
MAGNETO-ELECTRIC LIGHT FOR LIGHTHOUSES - Professor Faraday, in a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution, says: "By means of a magnet, and of motion, we can get the some kind of electricity as from the battery; and, under the authority of the Trinity House, Professor Holmes has been occupied in introducing the magneto-electric light in the lighthouse at the North Foreland...For the last six months the North Foreland has been shining by means of this electric light beyond all comparison better than its former light. Never for once during six months has it failed in doing its duty
- Douglas-Sherwood, Gerry (2004). "Radar Jamming at North Foreland Lighthouse" (PDF). World Lighthouse Society Newsletter. World Lighthouse Society. 2 (2): 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- Anon (26 November 1998). "Lights out for the last keepers". BBC News UK. BBC. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
- "North Foreland Lighthouse, Broadstairs, Kent". Your Paintings. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to North Foreland Lighthouse.|
- Trinity House
- MapServer chart: North Foreland location
- Satellite photograph showing the Thames Estuary
- Photographs of the North and South Foreland