Kent

White Cliffs of Dover lighthouse restoration begins

South Foreland lighthouse Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption It is claimed the South Foreland lighthouse was the first in the world to use an electric light

Restoration of a historic lighthouse on the White Cliffs of Dover - which was used for pioneering radio experiments - has begun.

The South Foreland lighthouse, which stands at 16m (52ft), is being sandblasted then weatherproofed.

The National Trust, which took ownership of the lighthouse in 1989, has opened a viewing platform as part of the restoration.

Guglielmo Marconi used it for the first ship-to-shore transmission in 1898.

Image copyright NAtional trust
Image caption The weather vane will be gilded as part of the restoration

The radio pioneer also used it for the first international transmission, across the Channel in 1899.

A spokeswoman for the National Trust said several layers of paint and hard render dating to the 1980s will first be sandblasted off, before 170 litres of paint are applied to the building.

Image copyright NAtional trust
Image caption Visitors will be able to see France from the visitor platform
Image copyright NAtional Trust
Image caption The lighthouse - seen before the restoration work - was used by Guglielmo Marconi

It will take around four weeks to remove the previous paint and a further 10 weeks to re-paint with liquid silicate paint applied using a brush and spray.

Jon Barker, assistant visitor experience manager at the lighthouse, said: "South Foreland Lighthouse is one of the most important buildings of its type in the world.

"Not only does it house the original Victorian mechanism to work the lighthouse but it has witnessed many historic events over the years."

Image copyright NAtional trust / john miller
Image caption The lighthouse can be seen at the eastern end of the White Cliffs of Dover

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