New hope for lighthouse stripes

Beachy Head Lighthouse
Beach Head Lighthouse, lots of painting required Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA

More than 200 people braved the bank holiday weekend weather to walk round a lighthouse in a bid to raise money to save its landmark red and white stripes.

Trinity House, which oversees navigational aids around parts of Britain's coastline, last year announced that the Beachy Head lighthouse in East Sussex was no longer needed as a daymark, the reason for its eye-catching appearance.

The striking red and white striped colours would therefore be left to die out because of the cost of repainting it, Trinity House said.

A group of local enthusiasts have launched a campaign to raise the £27,000 needed to restore the lighthouse's looks and have already collected about half that amount following a £10,000 donation from Eastbourne Borough Council.

And yesterday a total of 233 people took advantage of a low spring tide to join the fundraising walk around the landmark.

Organiser Martin Wellings said: "We need to protect some of our historical sites otherwise where does it stop?

"If it was just allowed to degrade then the paint would literally peel off.

"The lighthouse is still used and although the colours are no longer used because of GPS, the local fishermen and the local people still want it."

The 43-metre tower has sat more than 500ft below the summit of the infamous chalk cliffs of Beachy Head near Eastbourne since being brought into service in 1902.

Designed under the direction of Sir Thomas Matthews, the then engineer-in-chief of Trinity House, it is made of 3,660 tonnes of fine Cornish granite.

It was automated and de-manned in June 1983 and is monitored remotely 24 hours a day by Trinity House's operations and planning centre at Harwich, Essex.

Its light is still set to shine to guide passing mariners, providing a range of eight nautical miles across the English Channel.

Trinity House said that the decision not to repaint the lighthouse was taken because the expenditure was not justified as its daytime role had been taken over by modern technology such as GPS.