Pakefield Lighthouse

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Pakefield Lighthouse
Old lighthouse at Crazy Mary's Hole geograph - 4221270.jpg
Pakefield in 2014
Pakefield Lighthouse is located in Suffolk
Pakefield Lighthouse
United Kingdom
Coordinates52°26′13″N 1°43′45″E / 52.4370°N 1.7293°E / 52.4370; 1.7293Coordinates: 52°26′13″N 1°43′45″E / 52.4370°N 1.7293°E / 52.4370; 1.7293
Year first constructed1832
Automated1975 Edit this on Wikidata
Constructionbrick tower
Tower shapemassive cylindrical tower with balcony, lantern and conical roof
Markings / patternwhite tower, black lantern and roof
Tower height9 metres (30 ft)
Focal height20 metres (66 ft)
Range9 nautical miles (17 km; 10 mi)
ARLHS numberENG-098
Managing agentPakefield Coastwatch[1]
The lighthouse in 2010

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.[2]


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).[3][4]

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).[5]

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.[6]

By the time that land negotiations regarding the lighthouse and access road had been completed in 1850, the channel had moved to the south.[7] The lighthouse continued in use (with charts showing an increased angle of approach through the Gatway)[8] until 1864 when the lighthouse was decommissioned and a new red sector light was established at Kessingland, to the south.[7][9] (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.)[10]

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.[7]

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.[7]

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.[2][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pakefield The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 5 June 2016
  2. ^ a b Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Eastern England". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Pakefield Lighthouse". Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  4. ^ Admiralty Chart, 1843
  5. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  6. ^ John William Norie (1846). New and extensive sailing directions for the navigation of the North sea, arranged and written to accompany the new charts, drawn by J.W. Norie. pp. 19–.
  7. ^ a b c d "Pakefield Lighthouse". Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  8. ^ Imray chart, 1859
  9. ^ Admiralty Chart, 1865
  10. ^ Admiralty chart, 1885
  11. ^ "Pakefield Coastwatch". Retrieved 2 August 2015.

External links[edit]