Future options under investigation for Orfordness Lighthouse

The Lighthouse at Orfordness

The Lighthouse at Orfordness - Credit: Archant

Campaigners working to save an iconic Suffolk lighthouse threatened by the encroaching sea have warned supporters that tens of thousands of pounds will still need to be raised for permanent works to protect it.

Immediate repairs were carried out after a successful £10,000 fundraising appeal earlier in the year and which it is hoped could give the structure at Orfordness another 20 years of life.

Now talks are under way with engineers to examine the options for more work in the future.

Money raised so far has helped pay for what has been dubbed Operation Sausage Roll, with volunteers loading builders’ sacks with shingle and sand that was then wrapped in geo-textile material to make ‘sausages’ that have been placed on the beach around the base of the lighthouse to provide extra protection.

A spokesman for the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust said: “This is not a permanent solution – this activity buys us time to make plans for a more permanent preservation of Orfordness Lighthouse.

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“It is impossible to say how much time we have bought so we need to make a decision very soon.

“We are receiving expert advice on the options that are available to us for the longer term.

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“Certainly we will need considerable financial support for whichever path we choose – the fragility of Orford Ness means that any long term plan to preserve the lighthouse will require significant engineering.”

The most recent work is regarded as “soft defences” while a long-term solution could be to put in “hard defences”, such as sheet piling in front of the lighthouse. It has been estimated that this could cost as much as £200,000.

Thirty metres tall, grade II-listed Orfordness Lighthouse has stood on Suffolk’s coast since 1792, replacing a set of leading lights eventually lost to the sea, and was electrified in 1959. It once contained a light so bright it could reach 24 nautical miles.

In 1964 it became the first lighthouse monitored by telemetry from Harwich, the start of lighthouse automation. It carried on its work until it was decommissioned by Trinity House in 2013 due to the dangers of the encroaching sea.

People can donate to the ongoing appeal for defences by visiting www.orfordnesslighthouse.co.uk

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