Suffolk

Orfordness Lighthouse bungalow destroyed by storms

Orfordness Lighthouse Image copyright ORFORDNESS LIGHTHOUSE TRUST
Image caption The bungalow next to Orfordness Lighthouse was destroyed in weekend storms

High tides and strong winds have wrecked a bunk house that has stood beside a lighthouse for more than a century.

Beach erosion in recent years around Orfordness Lighthouse, in Suffolk, has left the Grade II-listed tower just feet from the shoreline.

Severe weather over the weekend badly damaged the neighbouring bungalow, causing it to partially collapse.

It will be demolished as soon as possible, a spokesman said.

The bungalow, which was built in the late 19th Century, was a former outhouse for cottages that once stood on either side of the 227-year-old lighthouse.

For the last four years, volunteers from the Orfordness Lighthouse Trust, which owns the tower, have put lengthy bags of shingle - or "geo-textile sausages" - in place to protect it from the tides.

Image caption The bungalow and lighthouse at Orfordness has long been vulnerable to the tides

A statement on the trust website reads: "Because of the very mobile nature of the shingle we have always caveated that a bad storm with winds in a certain direction could threaten the structure.

"The collapse of the bungalow is a timely reminder that the sea and weather can undermine our assumptions and expectations."

The trust hopes to eventually dismantle the lighthouse, which dates from 1792, and "preserve the artefacts inside" in a smaller replica nearby.

Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption By November 2015 the distance from the lighthouse to the sea had halved to just 10m (32ft)

In the 1960s, the cottages were demolished and the lighthouse was automated, with the bungalow becoming a bunk house for visiting engineers.

Nicholas Gold, a trustee of the lighthouse, said the loss was "inevitable at some stage", describing the building as "an early fatality".

"Every high tide is a threat, but that's nature I'm afraid," he said.

"Our efforts will continue to make the lighthouse available to as many people for as long as possible, but we have to be realistic and advance with pace to preserve the lighthouse artefacts for future generations."

The last tourist visiting day of the season is 5 October, but the trust hopes to reopen the lighthouse as usual in the spring.

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