Pat's bid to save lighthouse

THE historic lighthouse at Orfordness will always have a special place in Pat Carter's heart.

Craig Robinson

THE historic lighthouse at Orfordness will always have a special place in Pat Carter's heart.

In the 1840s the impressive monument was home to one of her ancestors as he safely guided ships around the perilous Suffolk coast.

But now the lighthouse could fall prey to the ravages of the sea itself - as constant battering by powerful waves has left it perilously close to the cliff edge.

It is predicted that within five years it will be gone completely and heritage bosses are currently discussing the best way forward - which could mean tearing it down.

Mrs Carter, 66, from Needham Market, is urging members of the public not to let this happen and protect the lighthouse for future generations.

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She said: “We can't turn back the tide but hopefully we can stir up a groundswell of local opinion.

“If we can save a Martello tower then hopefully we can protect the lighthouse as well.

“It is part of our heritage and it will be a real shame if it is lost forever because it is such a landmark. The lighthouse has saved endless lives - if it was a person it would have been awarded a medal by now.”

Mrs Carter's family has a long history with Orford - her mother, Belle Whayman, was born in the town, her grandfather, Robert “Doughy” Whayman, owned the bakery and her great-grandfather was landlord at the King's Head pub.

One ancestor - John Whayman - was lighthouse keeper at Orfordness in the 1840s.

Earlier this year the EADT revealed that Trinity House, which is responsible for the country's lighthouses, is discussing options for the future of the building.

Because of the sensitive nature of the coastline sea defences may not be appropriate and eight alternatives are being looked at - which include building a new lighthouse or moving the existing one further inland.

A spokeswoman for Trinity House said they had been discussing options with a number of different groups including the National Trust, Natural England and English Heritage.

“We all have different view points and we are trying to come together to establish a happy compromise,” she said. “We are aware the lighthouse is an emotive monument for many people because of its history. However, at the end of the day Trinity House has an obligation to seafarers. We will try to make come up with an answer to satisfy everybody.”

She said decision on the future of the lighthouse should be made within the next few months.

A spokesman for The National Trust - which owns Orfordness - said they were aware of the cultural, historic and natural significance of the lighthouse and the shingle spit on which it sits.

“This is quite an acute example of the challenges we are facing all along the coast,” he said. “It is not as simple as just recharging the shingle beach because in one storm it could all be gone. We are currently looking at a number of options, which I'm sure will be discussed with all interested parties.”