Pakefield in 2014
|Year first constructed||1832|
|Tower shape||massive cylindrical tower with balcony, lantern and conical roof|
|Markings / pattern||white tower, black lantern and roof|
|Tower height||9 metres (30 ft)|
|Focal height||20 metres (66 ft)|
|Range||9 nautical miles (17 km; 10 mi)|
|Managing agent||Pakefield Coastwatch|
Pakefield Lighthouse is a decommissioned 19th century lighthouse which was built near Pakefield a suburb of Lowestoft in Suffolk. The lighthouse tower has been used for a variety of maritime, civilian and military roles, and is currently used as a Coastwatch lookout post.
Completed in 1832 to a design by the architect Richard Suter, it was commissioned by Trinity House to enable a safe passage to be made through Pakefield Gatway (a channel between two shifting sandbanks providing a way into Lowestoft harbour).
The 9 metres (30 ft) high white tower and keeper's accommodation were built within the estate of Pakefield Hall, on low cliffs overlooking the sea at a cost of £821 (equivalent to £74,925 in 2018).
The light was powered by two argand lamps, originally consisted of a constant white light that could be seen for nine nautical miles. The colour was changed to red as some ships had confused the light with those shining from the windows of clifftop houses in nearby Kessingland.
By the time that land negotiations regarding the lighthouse and access road had been completed in 1850, the channel had moved to the south. The lighthouse continued in use (with charts showing an increased angle of approach through the Gatway) until 1864 when the lighthouse was decommissioned and a new red sector light was established at Kessingland, to the south. (Later, the sandbanks again having shifted, the sector light was moved back to Pakefield, but this time to the north of the old lighthouse which remained disused.)
The lighthouse remained abandoned for a number of decades until it was subsequently sold to the owners of the Hall in the 1920s, the grounds of which being used as a campsite, and would eventually become a Pontins holiday camp.
In 1938, prior to the Second World War, the tower became an observation post for the Royal Observer Corps, who were checking for any possible seaborne or air invasion force, with both the roof and lantern being removed to improve visibility.
The tower continued to be used throughout the war, with Auxiliary Territorial Service personnel being stationed at the site. The surrounding holiday campsite was requisitioned and became a transit camp. It was strafed by the Luftwaffe during an air-raid on Lowestoft in 1943, and in the following year a V-1 doodlebug with a defective gyrocompass was spotted travelling towards the lighthouse, until it crashed into the sea at the base of the cliffs nearby.
After the war, the tower was eventually purchased by Pontins, and in the 1960s it was used by the camp's official photographers as a dark room. The lighthouse tower was renovated in 2000, by voluntary workers from the local Pakefield Coastwatch group, and it is now used by the group as a coastal reconnaissance station.
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- Admiralty Chart, 1843
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- Imray chart, 1859
- Admiralty Chart, 1865
- Admiralty chart, 1885
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