'Unsafe' Orfordness Lighthouse to be demolished

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Orfordness lighthouse
Image caption,
The coastline around Orfordness lighthouse has been eroded by strong winds and high tides

The owners of a 228-year-old lighthouse which has been creeping closer to the sea due to years of coastal erosion have confirmed it will be demolished.

Recent storms have compounded severe erosion of the beach beneath the Grade II-listed Orfordness Lighthouse in Suffolk.

A council inspection said the building is in a "dangerous condition".

Orfordness Lighthouse Trust, which looks after the building, said: "We have long-known this day would come."

The distance to the shoreline reduced from 20m (65ft) in 2005 to 10m (32ft) in 2015, with further damage caused by severe weather, including Storms Ciara and Dennis.

Image source, Orfordness Lighthouse Trust
Image caption,
An image taken in 2018 shows the lighthouse protected by shingle sand bags

The lighthouse was built in 1792 and decommissioned in June 2013, with electrical equipment and hazardous materials removed.

Volunteers from the trust have spent five years shoring up the coastal defences with shingle sandbags to help preserve the vulnerable landmark and the surrounding buildings.

However, an engineer's bunkhouse that stood next to the lighthouse for more than a century was destroyed by storms in October.

Image source, Mike Page
Image caption,
The distance to the shoreline was 10m (32ft) in 2015, but the bunkhouse, front right, has now gone

A building control team from East Suffolk Council carried out a site inspection in January and advised the owners to demolish the entrance porch and secure access to the main tower.

A spokesman said: "Officers advised that the main lighthouse was a potentially dangerous structure and consideration should be given to its long term future.

"It is sad to see such a historic feature disappear from our coastline, however it is not unexpected."

A firm has already begun preparing the site for demolition, with final work to dismantle the lighthouse now "weather dependent", the trust said.

"We are proud that we kept the lighthouse standing for years longer than anyone envisaged," a spokesman added.

"We have had great fun sharing the building and the history of the lighthouse and we know it has brought interest and a lot of joy to many people."

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