Orfordness Lighthouse

23 April 2014

Stephen last travelled to Orford Ness in 2011, for a visit to the main, National Trust, site. The lighthouse on Orford Ness has now been decommissioned by Trinity House, and will fall into the sea soon - within a few years with normal winters, or quite possibly next winter if we have more storms like this last winter. So a trip to the lighthouse was an opportunity to be taken while it was still available.

From the quay at Orford, looking down the River Ore

The boat that will take us across the river to the ness

Looking across the river. The lighthouse is faintly visible in the centre of the photo.

A shame about the haze today, so this isn't a great photo, but it does show the lighthouse

So after a short ride across the river, we have walked along the road across the marshes, and are about to cross Stony Ditch

The bridge across Stony Ditch

Approaching the lighthouse at the end of our 40-minute walk from the boat.

Evidence of the winter storms - the security police of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment used the tower in the distance as an observation post, its position enabling them to scan the length of the beach looking for potential intruders. Three years ago it was well inland, now it is about to fall into the sea.

Some makeshift sea defences in front of the lighthouse. These may help slightly to reduce the effects of ordinary wave action, but will not stop a big storm.

Climbing the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse, past the sector lights

A hazy look to the southwest, with the police tower on the left, and the Black Beacon on the right.

And a hazy view to the north-east, across the ridges and swales of the vegetated shingle which are formed by the action of the sea moving material along the shore. Large stones are in the swales and smaller ones on the tops of the ridges; the smaller stones provide smaller gaps which trap organic material and thus favour vegetation.

The coloured sector lights

The coastguard watch house is also continuing to disintegrate

This lighthouse came into service in 1793, presumably the last to be here from a series of structures first erected in 1637. It is 89 feet high, with 163 steps to the lantern. The construction is of brick covered with stucco, with a Coade stone panel above the door. Trinity House took over the light from Lord Braybrooke in 1837. The lighthouse was the point from which the submarine electric telegraph left England for Scheveningen in the Netherlands, thus linking London with the Hague for the first time.

The light no longer shines out, and the building won't be here for much longer

An interesting visit - I'm glad I went.


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson