Lighthouses of Southern England

This page includes lighthouses along the south coast of England, in the counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, and Dorset. This coastline, facing the English Channel, features several of the oldest and most famous light stations in the world. Southampton is the most important port on this coast, but there are many smaller ports.

Note: lighthouses of Cornwall and Devon are on the Southwestern England page, and lighthouses of Kent are on the Southeastern England page.

The British system of lighthouse administration is decentralized, with the major towers under the management of Trinity House (a corporation chartered by the Crown) and smaller towers generally under the control of local port authorities. This system has generally assisted lighthouse preservation, and so has the British custom of building very sturdy stone lighthouses at most of the stations. Most of the onshore lighthouses are accessible to visitors, and several of them are major tourist attractions.

These are among the very first lighthouses in Volume A of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. U.S. NGA numbers are from Publication 114.

General Sources
Trinity House
Chartered by Henry VIII in 1514 as a charitable organization, Trinity House has built and operated lighthouses in Britain since 1609.
Photographers Resource - Lighthouses
A comprehensive guide to British lighthouses, with multiple photos and historical notes for many of the light stations.
Lighthouse Compendium
There is lots of useful information on this site by Michael Millichamp, including his Guide to English and Welsh Lights, an inventory of surviving English and Welsh lighthouses.
Lighthouses in England
Photos available from Wikimedia; many of these photos were first posted on Geograph.org.uk.
Online List of Lights - England
Photos of lighthouses and minor aids to navigation posted by Alexander Trabas.
Lighthouses in England, United Kingdom
Aerial photos posted by Marinas.com.
Leuchttürme.net - Kent, Sussex Counties
Photos posted by Malte Werning; Hampshire lighthouses are also included in this collection.
Britische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Information about English Lightvessels
Lightship information and photos posted by Iris Klempau.
Association of Lighthouse Keepers
Founded by serving and retired keepers, this lighthouse association is open to everyone.

Portland Bill Light
1906 Portland Bill Light, Portland, July 2005
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by David P. Howard

East Sussex Lighthouses

Hastings Lighthouse
* Hastings Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 55 m (180 ft); continuous red light. 6 m (20 ft) pentagonal wooden tower, painted white; the light is shown through three elliptical windows near the top of the tower. An excellent closeup is available, Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on West Hill, on the west side of Hastings Old Town. The area is accessible via the West Hill Lift, a cliff railway that climbs the hill from George Street. Site open, tower closed. Operator: unknown. ARLHS ENG-285; Admiralty A0858.1; NGA 1168.

Eastbourne Lighthouses
Royal Sovereign
1971 (lightship station established 1875). Active; focal plane 28 m (93 ft); white flash every 20 s. Octagonal tower with lantern mounted at one corner of a rectangular 1-story keeper's quarters, all supported by a huge cylindrical concrete column. The roof of the keeper's quarters is a helipad. Tower painted white with a single red horizontal band; keeper's quarters painted white. An excellent closeup photo is available, Photographers Resource also has a closeup (second photo on the page), a page for the lighthouse has many photos, Ian Paterson has a long-range view from Eastbourne. The station was automated in 1994. Located in the English Channel about 9 km (5.5 mi) east southeast of Eastbourne. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-257; Admiralty A0843; NGA 1144.
* Sovereign Harbour Marina (Langney Point, Eastbourne)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 10 m (33 ft) round unpainted concrete tower; the light is mounted on a 1-story observation room atop the tower. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This is Martello Tower 66, one of many fortifications built along the Channel coast in the 1800s. Located on the south side of the entrance to Eastbourne's harbor. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty A0848; NGA 1150.
Beachy Head
1902. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); two white flashes, separated by 4 s, every 20 s. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). 43 m (141 ft) tapered round granite tower with lantern and gallery, mounted on a square concrete pier. Lighthouse painted white with a broad red horizontal band; lantern is also red. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). Andy Beecroft's photo is at right, Werning has a good photo, Trabas has a fine closeup, Wikimedia has numerous photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse replaced the Belle Tout Light (next entry). Rarely is such a large lighthouse so dwarfed by its surroundings. In January 2010 Trinity House proposed to deactivate this light, but following opposition from local boaters it agreed in May to continue the light at reduced power. The fog horn will be discontinued. In 2011, there was concern about the need to repaint and restore the lighthouse, a task Trinity House said it could not afford. In October, preservationists began a campaign to raise the funds for repainting of the iconic red and white daymark. This campaign reached its £27,000 goal in November 2012, and the lighthouse was repainted in September and October 2013. Located on the beach below the Seven Sisters Cliffs about 5 km (3 mi) southwest of Eastbourne and 2.5 km (1.5 mi) east of the Belle Tout lighthouse. Site and tower closed; the lighthouse is best viewed, with care, from the clifftop above. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-005; Admiralty A0840; NGA 1140.
Beachy Head Light
Beachy Head Light, Eastbourne, July 2010
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Andy Beecroft
* Belle Tout (Belle Toute)
1832 (James Walker). Inactive since 1899. 14 m (47 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery attached to modern 2-story residence. Tower unpainted, lantern painted white. Paul Russon's photo is at right, Werning has a good closeup, another closeup photo is available, Wikipedia has an article with a photo, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was replaced by the Beachy Head Light because its light, shown at a height of 87 m (285 ft) from atop the Seven Sisters Cliffs, was often obscured by fog or low cloud. The lighthouse was built 30 m (100 ft) from the edge of the cliff, but by the 1990s erosion had brought it nearly to the edge. In 1999 the lighthouse was relocated 15 m (50 ft) inland. In 2007 the lighthouse was listed for sale at £850,000. The Belle Toute Preservation Trust was formed and tried to purchase the lighthouse and convert it to a bed breakfast inn. These plans were approved by local authorities in September 2007, but before funds could be raised the lighthouse was sold in March 2008 to David and Barbara Davison Shaw, who announced that they would convert the lighthouse to a bed and breakfast inn and tea shop. Renovations were in progress in 2009, and the accommodations were open for the 2010 season. The new owners also say they think the lighthouse will have to be moved again within the next 20 years. Located off Beachy Head Road about 6 km (3.5 mi) southwest of Eastbourne. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can be viewed from nearby. Owner/site manager: Belle Tout Lighthouse. ARLHS ENG-006.
Belle Toute Light
Belle Tout Light, Eastbourne, April 2005
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Paul Russon

Lewes District Lighthouses
* #Newhaven East Pier (1)
1883. Demolished 2006. 11.5 m (38 ft) square iron skeletal tower with lantern and gallery; watch room enclosed by wood siding. Trabas has a photo, Tristan Forward has a sunrise photo, and Werning also has a good photo. This little lighthouse was demolished in early 2006 and replaced by a modern post light (focal plane 12.5 m (41 ft); green light, 5 s on, 5 s off). Not to be confused with another Newhaven East Pier Light on the Firth of Forth in Edinburgh, Scotland. Located at the end of the east pier of Newhaven. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open. Operator: Newhaven Port Authority. ARLHS ENG-235; Admiralty A0832; NGA 1132.
* Newhaven Breakwater
1891. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white light, two 1 s occultations every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) round cylindrical cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). Alan Burke's photo is at right, Werning has a good photo, Trabas has a photo, Jason Ryan also has a good photo, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the long breakwater on the west side of the harbor of Newhaven. Accessible by walking the breakwater, which is popular for fishing and sightseeing. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Newhaven Port Authority. ARLHS ENG-086; Admiralty A0830; NGA 1136.

Brighton and Hove Lighthouse
* Brighton Marina West Breakwater
Date unknown (probably late 1970s). Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); quick-flashing red light. 5 m (17 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower, painted white with a red horizontal band. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the west breakwater enclosing the marina, on the east side of Brighton. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Brighton Marina. ARLHS ENG-284; Admiralty A0826; NGA 1121.

Newhaven Breakwater Light, Newhaven, August 2008
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Alan Burke

Greenwich Lightship
Trinity House Lightship 22 Greenwich
1967 (Richards Shipbuilders Ltd., Lowestoft, Suffolk). Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 5 s. 40.5 m (133 ft) steel lightship, painted red. The light is shown from a lantern on a round light tower amidships. The ship has served many stations over the years. Trinity House has a page with two photos. Tom Donoghue has a photo of LV 22 moored in the Stour estuary off Harwich, Essex, on 20 May 2008. Shipspotting.com has a photo of the ship carrying the nameplate of the Greenwich station, taken at Harwich on 18 October 2009. YouTube has a slideshow of the ship being towed into the Wear for repairs on 27 October 2011; on this occasion it has no nameplate. The station is located on the Meridian of Greenwich (longitude 0°), 46 km (29 mi) south of Newhaven. Accessible only by boat. Site open, vessel closed. Owner/site manager: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-269; Admiralty A0839; NGA 1128.

West Sussex Lighthouses

Adur District Lighthouses
* Shoreham Middle Pier Range Front (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 8 m (26 ft); white light, 3 s on, 2 s off. 6 m (20 ft) building, originally the harbormaster's office, with light mounted on the roof. Also on the roof is the fog horn (blast every 20 s) and traffic control lights. Trabas has a closeup photo, but Simon Carey's 2007 photo shows substantial alteration to the structure. Google has a satellite view and a street view across the harbor. Located at the end of the middle pier, inside the inlet at Shoreham-by-Sea, about 8 km (5 mi) west of Brighton. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Shoreham Port Authority. ARLHS ENG-313; Admiralty A0814; NGA 1112.
* Shoreham Middle Pier Range Rear (Kingston Buci)
1846. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 10 s. 12 m (39 ft) round limestone tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse is unpainted gray stone; lantern is black. Peter Trimming's photo is at right, Werning has a fine photo, Trabas has a good photo, Wikimedia has two photos, a wintry photo of the beach and lighthouse is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. The lantern was reconstructed in 1985. An active lifeboat station is adjacent to the lighthouse. Located on Brighton Road (A259) near the base of the middle pier in Shoreham-by-Sea, about 8 km (5 mi) west of Brighton. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Shoreham Port Authority. ARLHS ENG-125; Admiralty A0814.1; NGA 1116.

Arun District Lighthouse
* Littlehampton East Pier Range Rear (2)
Date unknown (station established 1848). Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); light 6 s on, 1.5 s off, showing white over the channel to the south southeast and yellow toward the south southwest. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) concrete tower with four tapering buttresses and a cylindrical lantern. Werning has a good photo, Paul Gillett has a 2010 photo, Trabas also has a photo, Wikimedia has a view from the harbor, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. Located near the foot of the pier, at the end of Pier Road, on the Littlehampton waterfront. Site open, tower closed. Operator: Littlehampton Harbour Board. ARLHS ENG-066; Admiralty A0801.1; NGA 1084.
Shoreham Rear Light
Shoreham Range Rear Light, Shoreham, April 2010
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Peter Trimming

Hampshire Lighthouses

Portsmouth (Southsea) Lighthouse
* Southsea Castle
1828. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off; also a directional light for the harbor entrance channel, displaying continuous red, white or green depending on direction. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical stone tower, painted white with a black horizontal band. Werning's photo is at right, Trabas has a closeup photo by Arno Siering, Graham Horn has a 2010 photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Southsea Castle was built by Henry VIII in 1544. Located atop the western rampart of the castle, marking the east side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. Site open, tower closed. Operator: unknown. Owner: Portsmouth City Council. Site manager: Southsea Castle. ARLHS ENG-134; Admiralty A0691; NGA 0956.
* Spitbank Fort
1866. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); red flash every 5 s. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical tower with lantern centered on 1-story square service building, mounted atop the fort. Light tower painted red with one white horizontal band. Werning has a photo, Trabas also has a good photo, Wikimedia has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Spitbank Fort is one of four circular, heavily armored stone forts built off Portsmouth between 1860 and 1885. Each of the forts has a light tower. The fort is a privately owned tourist attraction. Starting in June 2006, overnight accommodations were available. However, in 2010 the fort was closed for renovations; it reopened for 2011. Located in the harbor entrance about 1 km (0.6 mi) off Southsea. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed in 2010. Owner: Clarenco. Operator: Spitbank Fort. ARLHS ENG-260; Admiralty A0688; NGA 0948.
Horse Sand Fort
1866. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); green light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Light on a short mast mounted atop the fort. Trabas has a photo, Chris Gunns has a closeup, and another photo is available. In 2012, the fort was purchased by Clarenco, the owner of Spitbank Fort; the intention is to develop the fort as a museum. Located on the east side of the Portsmouth entrance channel about 3.5 km (2.1 mi) south of Southsea. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Owner: Clarenco. Operator: unknown. Site manager: private. ARLHS ENG-225; Admiralty A0750; NGA 1028.

Southsea Castle Light, Portsmouth
photo copyright Malte Werning; used by permission

Gosport Lightship
** Trinity House Lightship 1 Mary Mouse 2 (Haslar Marina)
1946. Decommissioned 1993. 36. 3 m (119 ft) two-masted steel lightship; hexagonal skeletal light tower with lantern and gallery amidships. Entire vessel painted green. Built by Philip and Son, Ltd., of Dartmouth. Peter Trimming has a good photo, Christine Matthews has a photo, and Google has a satellite view and a street view across the harbor. The ship served first as the Royal Sovereign and was posted to numerous stations around the English coast before returning to the Royal Sovereign station as the last lightship posted there in 1971. Sold as a marina club vessel, she was named Mary Mouse 2 for the wives of two directors of the Portsmouth Yacht Club. However, the name Haslar Marina appears on the side of the vessel. Formerly available only for business functions, the lighthouse was opened to the public as a restaurant in 2010. Located at the Haslar Marina on Haslar Road on the north side of the harbor in Gosport; Marinas.com has aerial photos. Site open, vessel open for dining daily. Owner: Dean & Reddyhoff Ltd. Site manager: The Lightship Bar and Restaurant. ARLHS ENG-319.

Southampton Lightship
Trinity House Lightship 78 Calshot Spit
1914 (J.I. Thornycroft Ltd.). Decommissioned 1978. 24 m (78 ft) single-masted steel lightship, painted red. The light was shown from a large lantern at the top of the mast. Iris Klempau also has a web page for the ship. Formerly stationed off Calshot Spit, at the western entrance to Southampton Water from the Solent; there's a good photo of the ship on station. The decommissioned ship was displayed on land for many years at the Ocean Village Marina in Southampton. Steve Daniels's photo is at right shows it at this location, and a 2008 photo is available. In November 2010 the ship was removed and relocated to Berth 50 near the cruise ship terminal. Julius Agricola has an August 2013 photo of the relocated lightship, and Bing has a satellite view. The plan was for the ship to be one of the exhibits of a museum called Aeronautica. However, in 2012 the museum site was redirected to another purpose. The ultimate destination of the ship is not known at this time. The lightship was replaced off Calshot Spit by a lightfloat, which was removed in 2010. Site status unknown. Owner: Aeronautica at Southampton. Site manager: unknown. ARLHS ENG-021.

New Forest District Lighthouses
* Beaulieu River (Millennium Beacon)
2000. Active; focal plane approx. 8 m (27 ft); sector light. Approx. 6m (20 ft) round masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Trabas has a closeup photo, another good photo is available, Gillian Moy has a photo, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. This lighthouse was built as a Millennium project by the town of Beaulieu. The site is on the grounds of Lepe House, a manor owned by the local member of Parliament. Located on the north side of the entrance to the Beaulieu River from the Solent, about 3 km (2 mi) southeast of Exbury. Site and tower closed. Operator: unknown. Site manager: private. ARLHS ENG-277; Admiralty A0553.15.

Calshot Spit Lightship at Ocean Village Marina, Southampton, January 2010
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Steve Daniels
* Hurst Point Low (Hurst Castle) (2)
1866 (station established 1786). Inactive since 1911. Circular granite tower built on the walls of Hurst Castle (1544). The tower is unpainted; lantern painted dark blue or gray. Werning has a good photo, Photographer's Resource has an excellent page for the Hurst Point lighthouses, Nick Grace has a 2008 photo of both low lighthouses, Wikimedia has Dave Pape's photo of both lighthouses, and Google has a satellite view. The original lighthouse was demolished. Two rooms in the Castle house a Trinity House exhibition on lighthouses, and the former optic of the Egypt Point Light (see below) is displayed outside. The Castle also has a page with historical background. Located at the end of a narrow spit extending into the Solent south of Keyhaven. Site and castle open (admission fee), towers closed. The castle is accessible by passenger ferry from Keyhaven from April through October, or by a hike of 2.5 km (1.5 mi) across the spit. Owner: English Heritage. Site manager: Hurst Castle. ARLHS ENG-253.
* Hurst Point Low (Hurst Castle) (3)
1911 (station established 1786). Inactive since 1997. Square metal tower with lantern and gallery, built on a square skeletal platform straddling the castle wall. After it was deactivated the tower was painted warship gray, as seen in Werning's photo, Nick Grace's 2008 photo of both low lighthouses, and Dave Pape's photo of both lighthouses, but sometime in 2008-09 it was repainted in its historic red. A Christmas 2009 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. In June 2010, Trinity House transferred ownership of the lighthouse to English Heritage. Located at the end of a narrow spit extending into the Solent south of Keyhaven. The castle is accessible by passenger ferry from Keyhaven from April through October, or by a hike of 2.5 km (1.5 mi) across the spit. Owner: English Heritage. Site manager: Hurst Castle. ARLHS ENG-058; Admiralty A0538.
* Hurst Point (High) (2)
1867 (station established 1812). Active; focal plane 23 m (76 ft); four flashes every 15 s, white or red depending on direction; also a directional light, white, red or green depending on exact direction is shown at a focal plane of 19 m (62 ft) over the Needles Channel for ships entering the Solent. 26 m (85 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. The original 1st order Fresnel lens is in use for the main light; the directional lights (added in 1997) are shown from high-intensity projectors mounted in the watch room below the lantern. 2-story keeper's house and other light station buildings. A photo is at right, Werning has a nice photo, Trabas has a photo, Missy Osborn has a fine photo taken from the castle wall, Wikimedia has photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the point, just outside the wall of Hurst Castle. Accessible by passenger ferry from Keyhaven or by walking along the spit from Milford-on-Sea (about 6 km or 4 mi roundtrip). Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can easily be viewed from outside the walls of the station. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-057; Admiralty A0538.1; NGA 0596.

Hurst Point High Light, Keyhaven, August 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo by lilyslucas

Isle of Wight Lighthouses

Note: Separated from Hampshire by the Solent, the Isle of Wight has an area of 258 square kilometers (100 square miles) and a population of about 135,000. A popular resort area, the island is accessible by air or by ferries from Portsmouth, Southampton, or Lymington.
* Egypt Point
1897. Inactive since 1989. 7.5 m (25 ft) post light with gallery, centered on a circular 1-story metal equipment shelter. Gallery and base painted white, post red. A 2007 closeup photo is available, Mark Pilbeam has a nice photo, and Google has a closeup street view and a satellite view. This modest but unusual light is very accessible and well known. Located near the northernmost point of the Isle of Wight, on the Egypt Esplanade (Queen's Road) near Egypt Hill Road in Cowes. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ENG-180.
No Man's Land Fort
1866. Inactive since 2010. Approx 10 m (33 ft) octagonal tower with gallery attached to 1-story keeper's house, mounted atop the fort. Lantern removed; light displayed from a short mast. Colin Babb has a good photo, Trabas has a distant view by Arno Siering, and another photo is available. The fort was developed as a luxury hotel, with helipads and a large indoor swimming pool. This venture failed around 2005 and the fort went on the market. After it was repossessed by the mortgage holder, it was sold in March 2012 to Clarenco, the owner of the Spithead and Horse Sand Forts (see above)t; the intention is to develop the fort once again as a luxury hotel and conference center. Located on the west side of the Portsmouth entrance channel about 3 km (2 mi) northeast of Seaview and 4 km (2.4 mi) south of Southsea. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: unknown. Owner/site manager: Clarenco. ARLHS ENG-237; ex-Admiralty A0752; NGA 1032.
St. Helen's Fort
1866. Active; focal plane 16 m (53 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 7 m (23 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower mounted atop the fort. Bernard Bradley has a good 2009 photo, Trabas also has a good photo, and another photo is available. Located about 1.5 km (1 mile) off St. Helens and 7 km (4.5 mi) south of Southsea. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: unknown. Site manager: private. ARLHS ENG-181; Admiralty A0760; NGA 0944.
The Nab
1920 (lightship station established 1819). Active; focal plane 27 m (89 ft); white flash every 10 s. 27 m (89 ft) cylindrical steel and concrete tower topped by a helipad and a small red lantern. Fog horn (2 blasts every 30 s). Trabas has a distant view by Arno Siering (The Nab is in the distance beyond the No Man's Land Fort). This unusual tower was built for coastal defense in 1918, but the project was abandoned with the end of World War I. Trinity House converted the structure to a light tower and used it to replace a lightship station marking the beginning of the approach to Spithead and Portsmouth Harbour. The tower assumed a permanent 3° lean when it was emplaced. An antiaircraft battery mounted on the tower shot down several German aircraft during the Battle of Britain in World War II. Valerie Martin has posted a fascinating article on the history of the tower. Located in the English Channel southeast of Bembridge, just off the eastern end of the Isle of Wight. Site and tower closed. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-082; Admiralty A0780; NGA 1048.
**** St. Catherine's
1838. Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 5 s; a continuous red light (focal plane 35 m (115 ft)) is shown from a window of the tower westward over the Atherfield Ledge. 26 m (86 ft) hexagonal cylindrical stone tower with lantern and a medieval-style stone gallery. A similar, lower tower adjacent to the front of the lighthouse is a fog signal tower built in 1932 (fog signal inactive since 1987). The two towers, both painted white, are known locally as the Cow and the Calf. Alistair Young's photo is at right, Trabas has a great closeup by Arno Siering, Wikimedia has photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view showing the lighthouse as it appeared before the fog signal tower was added, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse was originally 36.5 m (120 ft) tall; it was reduced in height in 1875 because the light was too often obscured by low clouds and fog. From 1323 to 1530 a navigational light was shown from the tower of a church near the location of the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself escaped damage during a German air raid on 1 June 1943, but the three keepers were killed. Located near Niton at the southernmost point of the Isle of Wight. Site open, tower open to guided tours three to five days each week, June 1 through mid October. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-143; Admiralty A0774; NGA 1064.

St. Catherine's Light, Niton, August 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo
by Alistair Young
*[St. Catherine's Hill (The Mustard Pot)]
1785. Never completed. 5 m (17 ft) unfinished round stone tower. Google has a satellite view. Intended as a lighthouse, this tower was abandoned when it was realized that frequent fogs would render it useless when most needed. Located near Chale, about 2 km (1.3 mi) north northwest of the St. Catherine's lighthouse (previous entry). Site open, tower closed.
* St. Catherine's Oratory (The Pepperpot)
1328. Inactive since at least 1547. 11 m (36 ft) octagonal cylindrical stone tower with a pyramidal top and four buttresses, making the building look remarkably like a rocket built of stone. A portfolio of photos is available, also a good closeup, Wikimedia has several photos, and Google has a satellite view. Originally there was a chimney opening at the top of the tower. A fire was maintained on the top floor and could be seen through eight openings. The lighthouse was built by Walter de Godeton, a nearby landowner who was convicted of receiving at least 53 casks of white wine from a ship that had wrecked in the fog on St. Catherine's Point. As punishment, he was ordered to build a lighthouse and an adjoining oratory where priests would say mass for the souls of sailors lost at sea. The lighthouse was apparently in regular operation until Henry VIII closed Catholic religious institutions in 1547. Built atop a high hill, the light had a focal plane of about 240 m (785 ft). Only foundation ruins remain of the oratory. Located about 2 km (1.3 mi) north northwest of the St. Catherine's lighthouse and 180 m (200 yd) northwest of the St. Catherine's Hill (Mustard Pot) tower (previous entry). Site open, tower closed. ARLHS ENG-293.
The Needles (2)
1859 (James Walker). Station established 1785. Active; focal plane 24 m (80 ft); white, red, or green light depending on direction, two 2 s occultations every 20 s. 31 m (102 ft) cylindrical granite tower, incorporating keeper's quarters, with lantern and a helipad built above the lantern. The original 2nd order Fresnel lens remains in use. Tower painted with red and white horizontal bands. Fog horn (two blasts every 30 s). Christine Matthews's photo is at right, Trabas has a similar photo by Arno Siering, a good closeup is available, Paul Woolrich has a 2006 photo, Wikimedia has many photos, a 1982 photo shows the lighthouse before the helipad was added, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a satellite view. This famous lighthouse marks the western entrance to the Solent, the protected sound behind the Isle of Wight. In 2010, a £500,000 project rebuilt the base of the lighthouse, which was threatened by erosion by the sea. Located at the rocky western tip of the Isle of Wight, west of Alum Bay. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can be seen from overlooks in the nearby Needles Park. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-083; Admiralty A0528; NGA 0584.

The Needles Light, Totland, June 2009
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Christine Matthews

Dorset Lighthouses

Purbeck District (Swanage Area) Lighthouses
* Anvil Point
1881. Active; focal plane 45 m (149 ft); white flash every 10 s. 12 m (39 ft) round cylindrical stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with green trim, attached to 1-story keeper's quarters. 250 mm lens in use; the original Fresnel lens is on display at The Science Museum in South Kensington. The fog signal structure in front of the lighthouse is no longer in use, but the keeper's houses are available for overnight accommodations. Jim Champion's photo is at right, Photographer's Resource has a fine page for the lighthouse, Trabas has a good photo by Arno Siering, Wikimedia has photos, Marinas.com has aerial photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a fine satellite view of the station. Located atop a cliff in Durlston County Park, at the end of Lighthouse Road about 3 km (2 mi) south of Swanage. Site and tower closed, but the lighthouse can easily be viewed from outside the walls of the station. Operator: Trinity House. ARLHS ENG-001; Admiralty A0496; NGA 0544.
* St. Alban's Head (2)
1970s (station established 1895). Active; focal plane approx. 100 m (328 ft); red light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 6 m (20 ft) signal mast adjacent to a 1-story coastwatch building. Stephen Williams has a photo, Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Formerly a Coastguard station, the building is now owned by the Scott Trust and leased to the National Coastwatch Institution. Located atop a vertical cliff at a headland near Worth Matravers, about 10 km (6 mi) west of Anvil Point. Site open. Site manager: NCI St. Alban's Head Lookout Station. Admiralty A0450.
Anvil Point Light
Anvil Point Light, Swanage, October 2008
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Jim Champion

Portland and Weymouth District Lighthouses
** Weymouth South Pier (Stone Pier)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); quick-flashing white light. 7.5 m (25 ft) mast surrounded by a circular observation deck accessed by a spiral stairway. Deck painted blue with white trim. Trabas has a photo, a view from the harbor is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the south pier at the entrance to the River Wey in Weymouth. Site open, observation deck open. ARLHS ENG-162; Admiralty A0346; NGA 0540.
Portland Breakwater (A Head)
1905. Active; focal plane 22 m (71 ft); white flash every 10 s. 22 m (71 ft) hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower with central cylinder, lantern, and gallery, all painted white. Trabas has a closeup photo, a distant view of the breakwater is available, and Google has a satellite view. Information on this historic tower is scarce; it is the only active survivor in England of a type of prefabricated lighthouse that was once quite common. Located at the south end of the detached northeast breakwater of Portland Harbour, one of four segments of breakwater that encircle the harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: Portland Harbour Authority. ARLHS ENG-107(=256); Admiralty A0314; NGA 0464.
Portland Breakwater B Head
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red light occulting once every 15 s. 8 m (26 ft) square concrete tower topped by a short mast. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the northwest end of the detached northeast breakwater of Portland Harbour. This light and the next frame the north entrance to Portland Harbour. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: Portland Harbour Authority. ARLHS ENG-344; Admiralty A0320; NGA 0468.
Portland Breakwater C Head
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); green light occulting once every 10 s. 8 m (26 ft) square concrete tower topped by a short mast. Trabas has a photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southeast end of the northern arm of the Portland Harbour Breakwaters. This light and the previous one frame the north entrance to Portland Harbour. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Operator: Portland Harbour Authority. Admiralty A0322; NGA 0472.
* Portland Bill (3) Low
1869 (station established 1716). Inactive since 1906. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white, attached to a 2-story annex building. Detached 2-story keeper's house. Peter Pearson's photo is at right, Photographer's Resource has an excellent page for the station, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Huelse's historic postcard view shows the original appearance of this lighthouse. The Bill of Portland is a sharp cape at the south end of the Isle of Portland, with very dangerous shoals offshore. The island is joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Three pairs of range lighthouses, built in 1716, 1759, and 1869, respectively, guided ships until they were replaced by a single lighthouse in 1906. Today, Portland Bill has three standing lighthouses and is one of England's best-known light stations. The lantern of the 1869 lower light was removed, and for a time the keeper's houses were used as a tearoom. In 1961 the complex was reopened as a bird observatory and ecological field station. A short "lantern room" was installed; it serves as an observation point for birds, which tend to concentrate at the Bill during migration. Accommodations are available in the lighthouse and adjacent keeper's house. Located on Portland Bill Road about 800 m (1/2 mi) northeast of the active lighthouse. Accessible by road from Portland, but public parking is some distance away. Site open; tower closed except for paying guests and Observatory members. Owner/site manager: Portland Bird Observatory and Field Centre. ARLHS ENG-109.

Portland Bill Low Light
1869 Portland Bill Low Light, Portland, March 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Peter Pearson

* Portland Bill (3) High
1869 (station established 1716). Inactive since 1906. Approx. 12 m (40 ft) round stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white, attached to two 1-story keeper's houses. Additional 2-story keeper's residence. Mike Smith's photo is at right, Tony Weeks has a fine closeup, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view. After deactivation, this lighthouse was sold as a private residence. After being vacant and deteriorating for 15 years, the light station has recently been renovated for overnight accommodations. A new lantern (very different from the original) serves as an observation point. Located about 1 km (0.6 mi) north of the active lighthouse. Site open, tower closed except to paying guests. Owner/site manager: The Old Higher Lighthouse. ARLHS ENG-108.
**** Portland Bill (4)
1906. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); white flashes with a 20 s period, but the number of flashes varies with direction from one to four. 41.5 m (136 ft) round sandstone tower, painted white with a single broad red horizontal band, attached to a large 2-story keeper's house. Rotating 1st order Fresnel lens. Fog horn (blast every 30 s). An additional 2-story keeper's residence is occupied by a caretaker. David Howard's photo appears at the top of this page, Trabas has a closeup by Klaus Kern, Wikimedia has many photos, Huelse has a historic postcard view, Marinas.com has aerial photos, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. A 7 m (23 ft) triangular pyramidal stone obelisk (1844) is near the lighthouse at the extreme point of the cape. The obelisk is in danger from erosion of the cliff; in 2002 Trinity House proposed to remove it, but canceled its plans after public protests. Trinity House has announced that it will open a Lighthouse Visitor Centre in the keeper's house in April 2015. Site open, tower open to guided tours daily except Saturdays, April through September. Parking provided; the light station is also accessible by buses from Weymouth. Operator: Trinity House. Site manager: The Crown Estate. ARLHS ENG-273; Admiralty A0294; NGA 0448.
Portland Bill High
1869 Portland Bill High Light, Portland, August 2007
Geograph Creative Commons photo by Mike Smith

Information available on lost lighthouses:

  •  Freshwater (1786-after 1900), Isle of Wight. ARLHS ENG-295.

Notable faux lighthouses:

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Adjoining pages: East: Southeast England | West: Southwest England

Return to the Lighthouse Directory index | Ratings key

Posted August 9, 2004; checked and revised June 11, 2014. Lighthouses: 34; lightships: 3. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.