Lighthouse under threat

A HISTORIC Suffolk lighthouse could be demolished because erosion is bringing it perilously close to the sea, it was warned last night.

Craig Robinson

A HISTORIC Suffolk lighthouse could be demolished because erosion is bringing it perilously close to the sea, it was warned last night.

Commodore Jim Scorer, director of operations at Trinity House, which is responsible for the country's lighthouses, said they are currently discussing options for Orfordness.

Constant battering by the North Sea means the cliff is eroding at an alarming rate and the listed building could disappear completely in five years time.

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Because of the sensitive nature of the coastline sea defences have already been ruled out and heritage bosses are now looking at other solutions - which could include building a new lighthouse or moving the existing one further inland.

Cdre Scorer said: “Last year was quite a bad year for storms and the rate of erosion seemed to be increasing.

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“We have been monitoring it now for a number of years and the latest assessment we have is that it could be as early as five years when the sea laps at the walls of the lighthouse.

“Clearly this is of huge interest to Trinity House - particularly on that part of the coast where there is a requirement for navigation for the foreseeable future.”

Cdre Storer said they had been discussing a number of options for Orfordness with the Environment Agency and Natural England.

“As you can appreciate it is a very sensitive stretch of coastline and we are not allowed to do certain things,” he said. “We have been told that sea defences are a non starter but there are a number of options we are looking at.

“Obviously there is a need for something so moving the lighthouse further inshore or building a new one are all in the melting pot.

“While it would be very nice to move the lighthouse it might not be feasible - it could be we have to build a new one. We will have to make a decision within the next two years.

“Obviously we will let people know what we are doing. Heritage is a huge part of our background - we want to safeguard that - but it's about A what's best to do and B what the most cost effective solution will be.”

Orfordness lighthouse

Two wooden lighthouses were first established at Orfordness in 1637.

In 1720 they were replaced with brick towers at a cost of �1,180.

In 1792 a new brick tower was built much further back - it is this tower which remains to this day.

In 1959 the lighthouse was converted to electric power.

It became fully automated in July 1964 and around a year later the keepers were withdrawn.

The 200 year-old 30m high tower has survived raids by privateers, storms, machine-gun fire and flying-bombs.

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