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Southwold Lighthouse reach will be extended to keep mariners safe

06:45 12 May 2011

Southwold lighthouse photographed from a window at the top of Adnams brewery. Picture: Bill Darnell EDP 08-08-2002.edp sun 02/11/02

Southwold lighthouse photographed from a window at the top of Adnams brewery. Picture: Bill Darnell EDP 08-08-2002.edp sun 02/11/02

The range of a north Suffolk lighthouse is being increased by five miles.

Shining a light on Trinity House

• Trinity House has overseen the safety of ships and the well being of seafarers since it was granted a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1514.

• Today the corporation is the UK’s official lighthouse authority, responsible for a range of navigation aids and ‘signs of the sea’ from lighthouses to radar beacons.

• It is a charitable organisation overseeing the safety and training of mariners.

• It is also a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority providing expert navigators for ships trading in Northern European waters. The group is authorised by the Secretary of State for Transport to licence Deep Sea Pilots.

The beam from the north Suffolk landmark currently stretches 23 miles (19.9 nautical miles) out to sea, but in November its reach will be extended to compensate for the closure of the lighthouse at Orford Ness, near Aldeburgh.

Trinity House, which is responsible for the UK’s lighthouses, is fitting a new light – a rotating optic with two 150 watt lamps which will increase the range to 28 miles (24 nautical miles).

While the designs for the light are progressing through the firm’s engineering department, there are also plans to restore the lantern roof later this year.

“Over time the roof has deteriorated,” said a spokesman for Trinity House.

“We intend to cut out the rusted sections and replace them with new ones on a like for like basis. This will give the lighthouse lantern roof a new lease of life for many decades to come.”

The work is expected to take place in September and scaffolding will be put up while repairs to be carried out.

While Southwold’s 31 metre tall lighthouse was saved from closure in 2009, Trinity House will turn off the Orford Ness lighthouse in 2015. The company said that, because of the constantly changing coastline, sea defences in the area might not able to protect the building. The National Trust has, however, said it would take ownership of the grade II listed site even if it does eventually fall into the sea.

• In August, there will be a sponsored abseil down Southwold Lighthouse to raise money for the town’s volunteer RNLI crew. Call 01473 822837 or see www.rnli.org.uk/abseil for details.

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