Kingston Buci Lighthouse
Work started on Kingston Buci (Shoreham) lighthouse in 1842 when it was decided to update the many fishing station beacons, normally red and green lanterns. Two lanterns near the lift at Marina Parade, Brighton, can still be seen.
The stone used in construction is limestone which came from three identifiable quarries: Lewes Valley, Portland and, for special sections, (i.e. the outer lantern walkway, the door lintel and the base blocks) from Caen. It should be noted that, at the time of the construction, Lancing College was being built with Lewes Valley and Portland lime-stone, and the builders were local stonemasons under the supervision of the Trinity House Brethren's agents and Trinity House accounts show that the stone was available locally !!
The lintel has a date of 1846 which was when the light was first used.
The first lantern was fixed oil-burning but quickly changed to a rotating globe with screens. The rotation was powered in the same manner as used to drive a long case clock.
Gas was laid in Brighton Road in 1880 and around that date a new gas lantern was fitted, this time with dioptric prisms to intensify the light. The winding device was located below the lantern and involved a man first climbing 54 stairs each evening, twice during the long cold winter nights, and then winding a 281b. weight up the full height of the tower. The lighting was a single gas mantle. With minor modifications, this continued until 1952 when the gas mantle was removed, the lantern fixed and electricity used!
The lighting system consisted of a constant running charger topping up 22 very large accumulators which provided 50v DC. The lantern was changed to provide two identical units, each housing a 50v 500w projector lamp the size of a grapefruit. The flash was obtained from one of a pair of cyclic switch devices which rotated back and forth every sec-ond, the ninth rotation making a pair of silver contacts close, providing, during darkness, a 1 second flash every 10 seconds which was visible for ten miles.
In 1985 major work was done to the metal top of the lighthouse as the cast iron and copper were showing signs of old age due, mainly, to the weather over 139 years.
The lantern roof was remade locally of stain-less steel and copper and, when completed, the original 4ft bronze ball and wind vane were restored and refitted.
The switching mechanism was replaced during the early part of 1986 with electronic switching, using the existing lens system but being switched by electronic timer and light cell. The standby system is now 12v and a halogen lamp. The modification of the system has provided a whiter light which appears 15% brighter but, what is even more important, by moving into the 21st century with a low maintenance lighthouse, we hope it will work for the next 140 years.
Information by courtesy of Shoreham Port Authority.
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