Old Higher Lighthouse

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Old Higher Lighthouse
Portland Bill High
Old Higher Lighthouse, Portland Bill - geograph.org.uk - 527423.jpg
The Old Higher Lighthouse in 2007.
Old Higher Lighthouse is located in Dorset
Old Higher Lighthouse
LocationIsle of Portland
United Kingdom
Coordinates50°31′20″N 2°27′23″W / 50.522273°N 2.456346°W / 50.522273; -2.456346Coordinates: 50°31′20″N 2°27′23″W / 50.522273°N 2.456346°W / 50.522273; -2.456346
Year first constructed1716 (first)
Year first lit1869 (current)
Deactivated1869 (first)
1906 (current)
Constructionstone tower
Tower shapemassive cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern attached to 1-storey keeper’s house
Markings / patternwhite tower
Tower height12 metres (39 ft)
Original lens1st order catadioptric fixed
ARLHS numberENG-108
Managing agentThe Old Higher Lighthouse[1]
HeritageGrade II listed building Edit this on Wikidata

The Old Higher Lighthouse is a disused 19th-century lighthouse on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, southern England. It is located at Branscombe Hill on the west side of Portland, overlooking Portland Bill. The lighthouse is Grade II Listed.[2][3]


The surrounding coast of Portland, namely Portland Bill and Chesil Beach, have been notorious for the many vessels that became shipwrecked in the area over the centuries.[4][5] After years of local petitions to Trinity House, the organisation agreed for a lighthouse to be built at Portland Bill. George I granted the patent in 1716.[4][5][6] Two lighthouses were built at Portland Bill – this one at Branscombe Hill, and the other, the Old Lower Lighthouse, on lower land.[5] Designed as leading lights to guide ships between Portland Race and the Shambles sandbank, they shone out for the first time on 29 September 1716.[4] Although they had been privately built, Trinity House took over responsibility for the lights on finding them poorly maintained, in 1752.[7] In 1788 Trinity House had Argand lamps installed within the higher lighthouse, which was the first in England to be fitted with them.[8] It was fitted with fourteen lamps arranged in two rows of seven, with a polished spherical reflector set behind each lamp.[9] The lamps were designed by Thomas Rogers.[10]

Both lighthouses were rebuilt in 1869,[8] and provided with large (first-order) fixed optics designed and built by James Chance.[11] At the turn of the 20th century, Trinity House made plans to build a new lighthouse at Bill Point to replace both current lighthouses.[8][4][12] The new lighthouse was completed in 1905,[5] and the original two lighthouses were then auctioned.[5][13] In 1923 the lighthouse was purchased by the doctor, pioneer of birth control and Portland Museum founder Marie Stopes as a summer residence.[14] During World War II, the Royal Observer Corps used the tower as a lookout.[15] During the early 1960s the lighthouse was run as a restaurant.[16] The lighthouse and its cottages were refurbished in 1981. With a total of four cottages within its grounds, both the Branscombe Lodge Cottage and Stopes Cottage are now available as holiday lets.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Portland Bill High The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 5 June 2016
  2. ^ "Old Higher Lighthouse Stopes Cottage | Portland Bill | | Dorset And Somerset | Self Catering Holiday Cottage". Sykescottages.co.uk. 1 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1203104)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "Portland Bill". trinityhouse.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Portland – Three Lighthouses Walk". dorsetlife.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  6. ^ Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. p. 68. ISBN 978-0948699566.
  7. ^ "Old Higher Lighthouse". The Encyclopedia of Portland History. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Portland Bill Lighthouse". Trinity House. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  10. ^ Tag, Thomas. "Lens Use Prior to Fresnel". United States Lighthouse Society. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  11. ^ Chance, James Frederick (1902). The Lighthouse Work of Sir James Chance, Baronet (PDF). London: Smith, Elder & co. p. 166. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  13. ^ Mackenzie, Roy (1999). Portland: A Topographical and Historical Gazetteer. p. 23.
  14. ^ "History of the Old Higher Lighthouse - Old Higher Lighthouse, Portland Bill, Dorset". Oldhigherlighthouse.com. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 1413281". PastScape. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  16. ^ "675690". geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  17. ^ "History". Old Higher Lighthouse.

External links[edit]