Portland Bill Lighthouse

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Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse - geograph.org.uk - 960112.jpg
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse is located in Dorset
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Location Portland Bill
Isle of Portland
Coordinates 50°30′51″N 2°27′23″W / 50.514155°N 2.456383°W / 50.514155; -2.456383Coordinates: 50°30′51″N 2°27′23″W / 50.514155°N 2.456383°W / 50.514155; -2.456383
Year first constructed 1903-05
Year first lit 1906
Automated 1996
Construction sandstone tower
Tower shape tapered cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / pattern white tower with a red horizontal band, white lantern
Height 41 metres (135 ft)
Focal height 43 metres (141 ft)
Current lens 1st order catadioptric rotating
Intensity 635,000 candela
Range 25 nautical miles (46 km; 29 mi)
Characteristic Fl (4) W 20s.
Admiralty number A0294
NGA number 0448
ARLHS number ENG-273
Managing agent The Crown Estate[1]
Heritage Grade II listed building Edit this on Wikidata

Portland Bill Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse at Portland Bill, on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The lighthouse and its boundary walls are Grade II Listed.[2]

As Portland Bill's largest and most recent lighthouse, the Trinity House operated Portland Bill Lighthouse is distinctively white and red striped, standing at a height of 41 metres (135 ft). It was completed by 1906 and first shone out on 11 January 1906.[3] To date, the lighthouse guides passing vessels through the hazardous waters surrounding the Bill, while also acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel.[4]


Portland Bill Lighthouse and the surrounding area from the sea

The two original lighthouses, now known as the Old Higher Lighthouse and Old Lower Lighthouse, operated as a pair at Portland Bill. They were constructed in 1716, both rebuilt in 1869, and decommissioned following the completion of the present lighthouse.[5] At the turn of the 20th-century, Trinity House put forward plans for building a new lighthouse at Bill Point. They acquired the required land in 1903.[6][7]

The builders, Wakeham Bros. of Plymouth, began work on the foundations in October 1903.[8] Chance & Co of Birmingham supplied and fitted the lantern.[9] The lighthouse was completed in 1905 at a cost of £13,000, and the lamp first lit on 11 January 1906.[5] On 18 March 1996, it was demanned, and all monitoring and control transferred to the Trinity House Operations & Planning Centre in Harwich.[10]

Tourist attraction[edit]

As Portland's prime attraction, the Portland Bill Lighthouse is open to the public for tours. A visitor centre is housed in the former lighthouse keeper's quarters. The original centre closed in 2013 due to lack of funding,[11] however a new renovated centre opened in 2015.[12] The tours operated at the lighthouse last approximately 45 minutes and visitors are able to climb the 153 steps to the top of the lighthouse.[13]

Lamp and fog signal[edit]

Portland Bill Lighthouse uses a 1 kW MBI lamp and four-panel first order catadioptric rotating optical system. The light flashes four times every 20 seconds and has an intensity of 635,000 candelas, with a range of 25 nautical miles. A fog signal is used in times of bad weather. The signal uses a four-second blast every 30 seconds with a range of 2 nautical miles.[4] The original Type F diaphone was decommissioned in 1996, but restored in 2003 for the benefit of visitors.[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Portland Bill Lighthouse Trinity House. Retrieved April 25, 2016
  2. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1280498)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  3. ^ "Portland Bill, Portland, Dorset". Geoffkirby.co.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Portland Bill Lighthouse". Trinityhouse.co.uk. 18 March 1996. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Portland – Three Lighthouses Walk". dorsetlife.co.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  7. ^ Legg, Rodney (1999). Portland Encyclopaedia. Dorset Publishing Company. p. 85. ISBN 978-0948699566.
  8. ^ "Portland Year Book". ancestry.com. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Portland Bill". trinityhouse.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Tourism Information Centre shuts at Portland Bill lighthouse". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 August 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  13. ^ "Portland Bill Lighthouse Visitor Centre was just one of many places to visit in Portland Bill Lighthouse Visitor Centre". Resort-guide.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Blast from the past (From Bournemouth Echo)". Bournemouthecho.co.uk. 27 August 2003. Retrieved 24 November 2012.

External links[edit]