Update 24th February
We know everyone has been desperate to hear how Orfordness Lighthouse is doing after a raft
of storms from October onwards, not least Ciara and Dennis just passed.
Please forgive our reticence in updating you- we have been hard at work
securing the future of the Lighthouse’s artefacts and have not been in a position to state a clear way forward until now.
Almost immediately after volunteers hosted a visit from the children of
Orford CEVAP school in October 2019, a severe storm hit Orford Ness, taking away the engineers’ bungalow and the sea-side concrete plinth around the base of the lighthouse itself. Where days before
the kids had joined hands and formed a ring around the lighthouse, much of the ground on which they had stood had been stripped away. It was clear to us then that the long-avoided time had come to
dismantle the lighthouse if there was to be any hope of preserving any of the artefacts.
Months of negotiations ensued, not only to find a suitable demolition
company that could work to our modest budget, but also to find a way forward with ten separate statutory and other bodies who all have an interest in the outcome of Orfordness Lighthouse’s fate and
her immediate, highly protected environment. During that process East Suffolk Council determined that Orfordness Lighthouse is now unsafe and ordered that it be taken down.
We have long known this day would come. In 2009 Trinity House determined
(after a number of studies) that, for a raft of technical and regulatory reasons, their much loved Lighthouse could not be maintained where she was nor could she be moved. They chose to decommission
the Lighthouse in June 2013, estimating that the building would survive only a short while before it succumbed to the sea.
This was the context in which Orfordness Lighthouse Trust took
responsibility for the Lighthouse. As a Trust we committed to defend Orfordness Lighthouse where it stood for as long as possible, and if possible to preserve the artefacts after that. We are proud
that, through the application of the “shingle sausage” defences, we kept the Lighthouse standing for years longer than anyone envisaged.
We have enabled thousands of visitors, local and not so local, to visit the
Llighthouse and learn about this iconic feature of the Suffolk Coast. Orfordness Lighthouse has been used as a location for concerts, music videos, student films, television documentaries and even a
few proposals of marriage. We have had great fun sharing the building and the history of the lighthouse with you and we know it has brought interest and a lot of joy to many people.
We have been fortunate to secure an agreement with Anglian Demolition, a
company from Attleborough, to carry out the demolition work in a way which enables the Trust to preserve the key artefacts. In the lull between storms Ciara and Dennis plant was brought to site to
make preparations to dismantle the building, demolishing the undermined oil-store and place the debris temporarily in front of the lighthouse to protect it from storm Dennis. They also managed a
temporary repair of the track down from Aldeburgh and prepare the beach to provide a stable platform for the crane from RJ Cranes that will take down the Lantern Room from the top of the Lighthouse
and then begin to take apart the rest of the building. We don’t have exact dates for the demolition to begin as everything is weather dependent but the intention is it will be in the next few
We know there are a few questions left unanswered; we’ve updated you with
all the certainties at this point. Please bear with us and we’ll update you as the programme develops.
This does mean that there will be no more visits to Orfordness Lighthouse.
We have had lots of requests from individuals and journalists requesting private visits. At this time our only focus has had to be the safe dismantling of the building and the preservation of the
artefacts. . Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to take any visitors to the Ness. This process will be filmed as a time-lapse by the demolition company and this will be made available. With
good binoculars you’ll be able to see some of this from the land.
We shall keep you posted!
if you’d like to
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Threatened by coastal erosion, this iconic building is at imminent risk of falling into the sea. Now in the hands of the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust, we are committed to keeping this much loved
monument standing for as long as possible and to preserve its legacy after that.