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Margate Lighthouse.


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Margate, Kent is situated on the south east coast and was once a busy commercial port with every kind of commodity brought into the town by sea. The Gasworks in King Street was a major user of coal and consumption had reached 50,000 tons per year by the time it was closed down in May 1958, a victim of North Sea gas supplies.

The great storm of January 1808 damaged Margate's first pier, which had already been re-built in 1789 and controversy centred on whether or not to repair the existing pier or to build a completely new one. The new pier supporters won and the required Act of Parliament was obtained. The great architect and civil engineer John Rennie, assisted by Mr. Jessup, designed and constructed between the years 1810 to 1813 at a cost of £ 60,000 the existing 900 feet long and 60 feet wide curved Stone Pier to protect the harbour. The first lighthouse was erected when the works were completed and a month later the first of many regular steamboats arrived bringing Londoners down for a weekend.

Serious problems were encountered during the construction of the Stone Pier due to the freshwater springs that bubble up in the area, relics of the Creek and Tivoli Brooks. These springs undermined a 100 yard stretch of the wall and the problem was overcome by spreading a bed of clay over the affected area and then laying a timber floor on it, after which the stone walls were built up on top. The Harbour wall itself was constructed externally with stone quarried from Whitby in Yorkshire, some stone from the demolished church at Reculver as it fell into the sea and larger blocks from the dismantled pier. The internal area was a series of compartments filled with rubble and shingle and the whole structure has now firmly withstood the fury of the sea for 186 years.

The foundation stone of the second lighthouse was laid on 15th May 1828 at the end of Stone pier, latterly called West pier, and the lighthouse was operational the following year. Designed by Mr. William Edmunds and costing £ 800, the 100 feet tall tower consisted of a Grecian Doric column of 70 feet and a cast iron lantern on the top. It stood on a stone galleried building that contained the access door to a stone staircase which reached the lamp room. Beneath the lamp was a square iron railed gallery. It exhibited a red light visible for 3 miles.

The lighthouse was destroyed by the Great Storm of February 1st 1953 when it collapsed into the sea after its foundations were undermined.

A third and new lighthouse was erected the following year. Designed by W.R.H. Gardner and built by Dorman Long & Co. Ltd, it consists of a 58 feet high hexagonal tower made of concrete, standing on a square housing with an access door. On top of the tower is a hexagonal glazed lamp room which exhibits a fixed red light is visible for 3 miles.

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