Visitors are often surprised to discover that the landscape of Portland Bill is dominated by not one but three lighthouses within an area of less than one square mile. Sandbanks and strong currents (races) have always made this stretch of coast dangerous, particularly so in the past for vessels dependent on sails and lacking modern navigation aids. Early records refer to beacons being lit to warn approaching ships of the hazards.
Eventually, in 1716, two lighthouses were built – one at shore level and one on a hill a short distance away But in 1752 the lease on the lighthouses was terminated when inspectors judged that the lights were being inadequately maintained. In 1844 Trinity House erected a white stone obelisk as a daymark and in 1869 had both lighthouses rebuilt
In 1906 the new red and white lighthouse (pictured above) was built and the original two fell into disuse. The Old Lower Lighthouse was eventually converted into a bird observatory and field centre, and the Old Higher Lighthouse became the home of Marie Stopes, the pioneer of birth control. It has now been developed as a holiday let. All three lighthouses are Grade II listed buildings.
Old Lower Lighthouse
Old Higher Lighthouse
La Corbiere lighthouse is situated off the south west coast of Jersey – an area hazardous to ships because of its rocks and treacherous currents. The lighthouse is linked to the main island by a causeway that is covered at high tide. A siren is sounded to warn visitors of the rising tide. The light from the lighthouse is visible for 18 miles. It was switched off by the occupying forces during World War II and was used only for the convenience of their own convoys.
Happisburgh lighthouse is located on the East Norfolk coast in the UK. This stretch of coast is notorious for its sandbanks and 70 sailing ships and 600 men were lost during a severe winter storm in 1789. As a direct consequence of these events the lighthouse was built the following year, 1790. Indeed, two were built at different heights but the lower of the two was demolished in 1883 when it was threatened by coastal erosion.
Despite being offiicially decomissioned in 1988, the lighthouse was ‘rescued’ by local enthusiasts and is the only independently operated lighthouse in the UK.
The tower is 85 feet tall and the lantern is 134 feet above sea level. Three white flashes are repeated every 30 seconds and the light can be seen for 18 miles. It is painted with red and white bands to distinguish it during the hours of daylight from a neighbouring lighthouse at Winterton.
The lighthouse pictured is La Corbière, situated at the south west tip of the Isle of Jersey. The name means ‘a place where crows gather’, but the crows have long since been displaced by seagulls.