With our island being surrounded by sea, lighthouses are a vital coastal guide for mariners, and are much-loved by visitors.
We all know of the magnificent exploits of the builders of the famous Eddystone, and Bishop Rock lighthouses, and I expect each of us has a favourite lighthouse view.
Almost ten years ago we visited Orford Ness, a shingle spit on the Suffolk coast, used by the military for armament testing for decades. The spit’s lighthouse has protected mariners for more than 200 years.
On our visit we soon realised the threat posed to the lighthouse by shingle erosion. Winter storms do the damage, such that the lighthouse is in danger of collapsing into the sea. Iconic, a much overused word, is absolutely appropriate in this context. It’s location, so close to the sea that wants to claim it, marks it out as an icon of coastal erosion.
Orfordness lighthouse was acquired from Trinity House in 2013 by the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust, with the aim of saving as much of the lighthouse as possible. It is currently being dismantled, the eventual conclusion of which will be the collapsing the walls inwards to minimise the environmental impact on the shingle spit.
Here’s our photo of the lighthouse in 2011, and the current state of demolition.