Royal Sovereign Lighthouse

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Royal Sovereign
Royal Sovereign light tower (geograph 4647090).jpg
Royal Sovereign Lighthouse in 2015
Royal Sovereign Lighthouse is located in East Sussex
Royal Sovereign Lighthouse
East Sussex
Locationoffshore Eastbourne
East Sussex
Coordinates50°43′24″N 0°26′08″E / 50.72333044°N 0.435498258°E / 50.72333044; 0.435498258Coordinates: 50°43′24″N 0°26′08″E / 50.72333044°N 0.435498258°E / 50.72333044; 0.435498258[1]
Year first constructed1875 (lightship established)
Year first lit1971 (current)
Constructionconcrete column
Tower shapecylindrical column supporting an upper platform with tower
Markings / patternwhite tower with a red band, white keeper's quarter
Tower height36 m (118 ft)
Focal height28 m (92 ft)
Original lensRotating three-panel 375mm catadioptric optic
Current lensbiform tideland ML300 lanterns
Intensity3,976 candela
Range12 nmi (22 km)
CharacteristicFl W 20s.
Fog signal2 blasts every 30s.
Admiralty numberA0843
NGA number1144
ARLHS numberENG 257
Managing agentTrinity House[2]

Royal Sovereign lighthouse, located 11 km (6.8 mi) offshore from Eastbourne, is a lighthouse marking the Royal Sovereign shoal. Its distinctive shape is easily recognised as it comprises a large platform (which functions as a helicopter deck) supported by a single pillar rising out of the water.[3] Originally, the platform was manned by three full-time keepers, accommodation being contained in the 'cabin section' immediately below the platform.

Construction and installation[edit]

The lighthouse replaced a lightship that had marked the Royal Sovereign Shoal since 1875. The structure was built, in two parts, on Newhaven beach, and put into position in 1970. First, the base and attached column were floated out to the shoal, where the hollow base was flooded and allowed to sink into position. Then the cabin section and superstructure were floated out, positioned over the base and allowed to settle on to the column as the tide fell.[4] Afterwards the telescopic inner section of the column was jacked up, increasing its height by 13 metres (43 ft).


The lighthouse was brought into operation at noon on 6 September 1971, whereupon the lightship was towed away.[5] Initially, the light source was a 1,000 watt bulb set within a revolving 3.5 order catadioptric optic, mounted in a superstructure on the corner of the platform. Beneath the lantern, on two intermediate levels, were the sounder, air tanks and associated equipment for the diaphone fog horn, below which the main control room was located (on platform-level). Power was provided by four 20 kW diesel generators, housed in the cabin section of the structure along with two diesel compressors (which, as well as supplying the fog horn, powered a crane on the platform).[4] The optic completed one revolution per minute, thus displaying one flash every 20 seconds with a range of 28 nmi (52 km; 32 mi).

The light was automated in 1994. At the same time, the optic and lamp were replaced (reducing the range to 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi)) and converted to solar-powered operation, and the fog horn replaced by an electric emitter.[4] As of 2006 the light was controlled by a 475 MHz radio link to Trinity House managed by Vodafone; the platform was still occasionally occupied.[6]


In June 2019, Trinity House announced that the lighthouse would be decommissioned, and then removed, because of the platform's structural condition.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ GPS coordinates of Royal Sovereign
  2. ^ Royal Sovereign Lighthouse Trinity House. Retrieved 5 May 2016
  3. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Southern England". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Woodman, Richard; Wilson, Jane (2002). The Lighthouses of Trinity House. Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts.: Thomas Reed. p. 128.
  5. ^ "Royal Sovereign Lighthouse to be decommissioned". Trinity House. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  6. ^ "A beacon for man and buoy". The Telegraph. 28 October 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  7. ^ Sanderson, Ginny (29 June 2019). "Royal Sovereign Lighthouse to be removed". Eastbourne Herald. Retrieved 30 June 2019.

External links[edit]