Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse is a functioning lighthouse on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England. The lighthouse is located at the very south of the island, warning coastal traffic off of Portland Bill. The lighthouse and its boundary walls are Grade II Listed.
Both Portland Bill and Chesil Beach are the locations of many wrecks of vessels that failed to reach Weymouth or Portland Roads. Portland Bill Lighthouse guides vessels heading for Portland and Weymouth through these hazardous waters as well as acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel.
As Portland's largest and most recent lighthouse, the Trinity House operated Portland Bill Lighthouse is distinctively white and red striped, standing at a height of 41 metres. It was completed by 1906 and first shone out on 11 January 1906. Originally, both the Old Higher Lighthouse and Old Lower Lighthouse were the two functioning lighthouses on the island, where both were opened in 1716 and continued to warn ships of the coast until 1906, when both were decommissioned. The Old Lower Lighthouse became a bird observatory whilst the Old Higher Lighthouse became the home of Marie Stopes, and today remains a holiday let.
The lighthouse was built with stone from surrounding quarries at Portland Bill. The area was quarried for centuries until they were abandoned by the early years of the 20th century, following the lighthouse's counstruction.
The lighthouse was swathed in scaffolding and polythene when undergoing a facelift during 1990.
Arguably Portland's biggest attraction and most photographed feature, the Portland Bill Lighthouse is open to the public, where tours are operated by Trinity House, and a visitor centre is also a big part of the lighthouse.
The tours of Portland Bill Lighthouse are organised by The Crown Estate under licence from the Corporation of Trinity House. Often lasting approximately 45 minutes, visitors are able to climb the 153 steps to the top of the lighthouse on a guided tour with a former Lighthouse Keeper, and view both the inside of the lighthouse and its lamp as well as the surrounding Portland coastline.
The visitor centre is owned and operated independently from the actual tower lighthouse, and past occasions have seen the lighthouse closed to the public, whilst the centre would remain open. It opens from Easter to the end of September each year, and in 2007 was reported to receive 300,000 visitors a year. The centre features various displays which provides insight and introduction into Portland's environment & heritage - ranging from geology, Portland stone and the Jurassic Coast. It also features a shop which stocks various souvenirs. The nearby Trinity House Obelisk and Pulpit Rock are also popular attractions in the area.
Lamp and Fog Signal
Portland Bill Lighthouse uses a 1 Kw Mbi lamp and 4 Panel 1St Order Catadioptric Fixed Lens. The light flashes four times every 20 seconds and has an intensity of 635,000 Candela, with a range of 25 nautical miles. Also having a fog signal for times of bad weather, the signal uses a four second blast every 30 seconds, with a range of 2 nautical miles. The Type F diaphone was decommissioned in 1996, but restored in 2003 for the benefit of visitors, where it is sounded every Sunday morning as an added attraction on the island but only used in foggy conditions if the lighthouse is out of operation.
The present optic at the lighthouse is unusual due to the arrangement of the panels, where the character gradually changes from one flash to four flashes between the bearings 221°-224° and from four flashes to one flash between bearings 117°-141°.
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