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Century-old lighthouse placed on wheels and rolled away in bid to save it from the sea

A 120-year-old lighthouse in Denmark is on the move away from the North Sea, on wheels and rails, in a bid to save it from coastal erosion.

When the 76ft Rubjerg Knude lighthouse in north-western Denmark was first lit in 1900, it was roughly 650ft from the coast in Jutland - now it is only about 20ft away.

Local mayor Arne Boelt said “many things can go wrong” in moving the defunct lighthouse, which weighs about 1,000 tonnes and sits on top of a cliff 200ft above sea level.

He added: “But it’s worth the risk... the alternative would be to dismantle the lighthouse.”

The Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was about 650ft from the coast in Jutland when it was first lit. Credit: AP

The move is scheduled to take 10 hours, at a speed of 26ft per hour.

Environment minister Lea Wermelin has called the white, square lighthouse “a national treasure” to explain why her ministry spent £576,000 to save it.

Mr Boelt and the town of Hjoerring also have chipped in to foot the bill.

The lighthouse finished operating in 1968 and was briefly turned into a museum, including an exhibit about the structure’s struggle against sand drift.

Coastal erosion means the 120-year-old lighthouse is dangerously close to a cliff edge. Credit: AP

In the end, it was closed as shifting sands slowly buried the two buildings next to the lighthouse, although the lighthouse still gets more than 250,000 visitors each year.

The move was broadcast live on major Danish news outlets.

In 2008, a nearby church was dismantled to prevent it from falling into the sea.

The Romanesque Maarup Church, built on a cliff around 1250, was picked for scenes in Babette’s Feast, which in 1987 became the first Danish film to win the Oscar for best foreign language film.