Orford: Event held to mark decommissioning of famous lighthouse

Despite the gloomy skies crowds turned out for the seafaring celebration in Orford

Despite the gloomy skies crowds turned out for the seafaring celebration in Orford - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk town has celebrated its seafaring history and marked the closing of its famous lighthouse.

People paraded through Orford on Saturday accompanied by live music and children from nearby primary schools.

The day was also an opportunity to remember the significance of the Orfordness Lighthouse which was officially decommissioned in June.

Touching the Tide, which supported the event, had received £900,000 of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out a range of coastal projects.

Project manager Bill Jenman, 49, said: “It was a great day.


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“We had 25 children here and the plan went well – we had a good time. We had about 300 people here, mostly people from the town but some from further afield. There was a mix of families and children.

“There were people here from all walks of life. We wanted to involve the schools inland because for children living near the Suffolk coast it’s already part of their lives.

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“People are sad to see the lighthouse decommissioned – it’s part of the local landscape. There’s was a range of views – some people were understanding and some people feel strongly that it should have been kept in operation.”

Work is being undertaken to strip the lighthouse, which was built in 1792, of its fixtures.

The beacon is being left to erode into the sea which experts predict could happen within a decade.

Trinity House, which owns the Grade-II listed building, has fitted a more powerful beam at Southwold Lighthouse to compensate for the lost Orford signal.

Children from Rendlesham, Orford, Middleton and Melton primary schools all took part on Saturday.

The town crier led the parade through the streets with music on the day provided by the groups Six in a Bar, Syzewell Gap and the Quay Street Whalers.

A re-enactment of the story of the legend of the Orford Wildman was also produced.

The story goes the man was caught in the nets of fisherman naked but covered in hair in around 1167.

He was held for months and behaved as if he were a wild animal.

The wild man finally escaped but was never seen again, creating the legend.

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