Beachy Head Lighthouse Saves the Stripes

In 2011 it was made public that Trinity House had decided not to re-paint the Beachy Head Lighthouse and allow it to slowly fade to its original grey granite colour.

The news that this world-famous and iconic lighthouse would lose its unmistakable red and white livery caused some controversy.

I had already been vocal about the stripes and had appeared on BBC Sussex breakfast radio to talk about the lighthouse at Beachy Head.

I then found out others were also vocal and joined the ‘Keep the Beachy Head Lighthouse’s Stripes!’ set up by Shirley Moth. It showed the level of concern among not only local residents but also the nation as people expressed their support by joining the Facebook group, following on Twitter, visiting the website and donating money to help save the stripes of the Beachy Head Lighthouse.

I  helped with various money making ideas such as the competition in March 2012, idea for a walk to the lighthouse and profits from my book.

Together with the rest of the team we spoke to influential donors and continued with appearances on radio and on TV, the highlight being an appearance on BBC’s Countryfile on 21st October 2012.

The Painting of the Stripes

The work on the Beachy Head Lighthouse began on Friday 20th September 2013.

The Sussex Blast Cleaning team had been waiting to get on the Beachy Head Lighthouse since the beginning of the week although the weather had not permitted them. There is a shelf of rock near the lighthouse which causes very strong undercurrents which made  it difficult to unload the equipment, despite them trying on Wednesday 18th September.

The crew would be staying at the lighthouse as there was no guarantee that they could get back on again if they got off. They needed enough equipment and provisions for a three week stay as this is how long the work should take, with a few days contingency. This is the first time that people have stayed at the lighthouse since the 28th June 1982 when the lighthouse was automated and the keepers left. I was able to capture this in some rather amazing photos.

Friday 20th September – The work begins immediately with the construction of the scaffold around the lantern. It is secured with bands so that they can move the scaffold around the lantern as they work.

Saturday 21st September – Using a high pressure jet of water the crew clear years of dirt, grime and loose crumbling paint off the lantern room.

Sunday 22nd September – Using the high pressure jet-washer, the crew continues to work on the lighthouse, descending by abseil down the tower. The RNLI pay a visit to check on progress. Treating rust and priming of the lantern room.

Monday 23rd September – Tower jet-washing continues. Rust treating and priming.

Tuesday 24th September – Priming.

Wednesday 25th September – The first coat of paint is on the lantern room and the rest of the tower is daubed in primer with some comical messages such as the initials ‘RT’, a happy face and the message ‘If any humans still exist send beer’.

Thursday 26th September – First thing in the morning one of the crew was working on the front door frame. Sussex Power Networks attended together with a representative from Trinity House as there were power problems at the lighthouse. Once everything was back on-line the crew were active working on the lantern and starting to paint the first coat of the white stripes using rollers to do the edges.

Friday 27th September – Due to high winds forecast at the weekend the crew comes off the lighthouse for a weekend back on shore.

Monday 30th September – The crew arrive back at the lighthouse in the morning. The abseiling painters work on the white stripes applying the paint using a spray gun.

Tuesday 1st October – It was initially undecided whether to add the top coat of white or the red primer coat, however rain delayed progress until the late afternoon when the crew came back out to work. They were working on the red stripes as the light began to fade, even continuing to work by lamp light on the platform.

Wednesday 2nd October – Continuing work on the stripes, with base coats and first coats applied its starting to look almost as good as new again. The crew left the lighthouse last night and will return on Monday so there will be no further activity on Friday or over the weekend.

The to do list:

  • Finish applying a total of three top coats of paint to the tower to go over the two primer coats already applied
  • Once the ropes are removed, paint the hand rails around the lantern balcony
  • Paint the balcony walkway
  • Paint the front door
  • Paint the steps leading to the landing area

Weather permitting, they should finish the painting of the Beachy Head Lighthouse on Tuesday the 8th or Wednesday the 9th of October.

Monday 7th October – Crew back on the lighthouse, busy working through the to-do list.

Tuesday 8th October – The crew managed to continue working around their visitors, including myself, fellow Save the Stripes team members, a press association photographer and the BBC. They were applying the final top coat of paint and tidying up the edging of the stripes. The work is nearly complete.

Wednesday 9th October – The abseilers left this morning together with some equipment. This leaves two other crew members to finish off the remaining jobs. They will finish tomorrow and more equipment will be removed from the lighthouse. It is likely that the remaining heavy equipment will not be able to be removed until next week due to high winds.

The stripes are complete and what a journey it has been. Great job Sussex Blast Cleaning and well done to the Save the Stripes team and everyone who supported this project, it couldn’t have been done without you.

Updates on Save the Stripes

There have been delays agreeing the specification of the paint. It is a new formula and is hoped that it will last up to ten years.

Sussex Blast Cleaning of Hailsham have been awarded the contract to re-paint the famous red and white stripes of the Beachy Head Lighthouse.

The work is due to begin on the 17th September 2013.

We Saved the Stripes!

On the 2nd November Shirley Moth announced that we had successfully raised the £27,000 required to Save the Stripes!

Through the support, dedication and generosity of our members, followers and supporters, we helped save the stripes of the Beachy Head Lighthouse – thank you and well done to all.

‘Save The Stripes’ on Facebook

You can still join the ‘Save the Stripes’ group on Facebook and show your support.

The group enabled the bringing together of some amazing people, from meteorologists to reporters, from photographers to original lighthouse keepers who were stationed at Beachy Head, lighthouse enthusiasts and general concerned folk.

It is still updated with anecdotes and historical findings and we would welcome further input from people with old photos, postcards and information about the lighthouse.

‘Save The Stripes’ Official Website

The Save the Stripes campaign official website.

It kept people abreast with the latest news and information about the campaign to save the Beach Head lighthouse stripes, including how much money had been raised.

‘Save the Stripes’ Campaign on Twitter

You can follow the Save the Stripes campaign on Twitter.!/KeeptheStripes

Fund Raising for Beachy Head Lighthouse

Trinity House said that if we could raise £27,000 that they will cover the rest of the money and meet half-way to re-painting the Beachy Head Lighthouse.

Whilst it could be argued that Trinity House have the responsibility of maintaining the lighthouse due to its listed status, at least meeting half-way is a notable gesture to maintaining our much-loved lighthouse.

AM Rotary Eastbourne set up a bank account to take donations and collect money.

The Eastbourne Herald did a great job in keeping everyone updated with progress and the latest news.

Thank you to everyone who helped with this project. Once again, it shows that if enough people believe in something that we can make it happen. Well done everyone.

Beachy Head Lighthouse in the News:

For a list of all media links from the BBC, Eastbourne Herald and more, please visit the Save the Stripes news and media page: