The original Belle Tout lighthouse was built in 1832 and came into operation on the 11th October 1834.
Over the years, erosion of the cliff reduced the effectiveness of the light and in the late 1800s it was decided by Trinity House to build a new lighthouse at the base of the Beachy Head cliffs.
Work began on the new Beachy Head lighthouse. It was built using a coffer dam which helped keep the groundworks protected during construction and materials were winched down in a large bucket.
On the 25th February 1902 the last stone was laid, (©Science Photo) and the lighthouse finally operation and was first lit on the 2nd October 1902.
The tower is made from granite and did not always have the red and white stripes. It was originally granite colour, then a black stripe was added and then finally it was painted red and white to make it more prominent as a day mark.
The height of the tower is 43 metres and has a first order 920mm asymmetrical catadioptric optic which produces a white flash every 20 seconds. It has a range of 8 nautical miles.
The Beachy Head lighthouse was electrified in 1920 and completely automated in 1983. It was the end of an era for the keepers who had watched over these shores.
Much more detailed information together with rarely seen photos and stories from former lighthouse keepers at Beachy Head is in my book, The Story of the Beachy Head Lighthouse – available to buy online and from selected outlets in and around Beachy Head.
The Story of the Beachy Head Lighthouse
The book that helped save the Beachy Head Lighthouse stripes