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Gunfleet lighthouse is situated six miles off the coast of Frinton on Sea on a horseshoe shaped bay in the northern part of Gunfleet sands. It is equally on the north-east limit of the Port of London and therefore just inside territorial waters.
It was constructed in 1850 as a screw pile lighthouse designed by Mr. Walker of Trinity House but based on the invention of an Irish man called Alexander Mitchell.
The submerged end of each pile has a poad bladed screw on it. The screw is twisted into a sand or coral bottom in the same manner that a screw is twisted into wood. A platform is then constructed upon the embedded screw piles and the living accommodation and lighthouse erected on top.
A lighthouse of this kind is easily adapted for any area where the light does not require to been seen at a great distance. The piles offer no resistance to the waves which pass through the open spaces without rising any higher than out at sea.
Gunfleet lighthouse is an iron lattice structure built on seven screw piles driven into the unstable sands. Six form an outer hexagon and the seventh a centre support on which is placed hexagonal shaped living accommodation consisting of a living room, bedroom, kitchen/washroom and storeroom. A light tower was fixed on top the living quarters. The whole structure was painted red and stood 74 feet high.
It showed one revolving light every 30 seconds and was visible for 10 miles. It was decommissioned in the 1920s when I assume the fog-warning bell was removed.
The 1891 Census showed Gunfleet lighthouse as the registered address for Richard Turner Ayeis of Great Yarmouth (assistant keeper), and Keeper, John Francis Ellis of Joleland.
In 1974 there was an attempt to board the lighthouse and set up the pirate 'Radio Atlantis' station inside but this was thwarted in December of that year when the Royal Marine Commandos, Essex Constabulary, Home Office and Trinity House officials prevented access to the would be pirates.
Today the tower is in remarkably good order considering its age and lack of attention and is currently in use as a weather station. It stands as a beacon with the treacherous sands marked by a series of buoys with bells.
Peter took the photograph above in 2005. You can see all of his drift around this lighthouse on Lighthouse Tours and Viewer's Photos.
Adam also took a photograph (as above) when he explored the inside of the lighthouse in 2005. You can see all of his photos on Lighthouse Tours and Viewer's Photos.
The nice old sepia postcard of Gunfleet lighthouse (below) is reproduced by permission of Mr.J.Swinn and is taken from a collection of postcards maintained by the late G.E.Danes, a Trinity House Lighthouse keeper.
Mike Gaylard writes - 'My great-great uncle James Henry Gaylard was the keeper at this lighthouse (amongst others) from 1903 to 1910. Unfortunately I do not have a picture of him as yet. I do have a picture of his elder pother William Charles King Gaylard who was also a lighthouse keeper. William is my great-grandfather. In 1871 he was a lighthouse keeper at Plymouth peakwater; 1884-85 he was at South Foreland, 1885-1889 Godrevy and 1901 Wolf Rock.This is a picture of William Charles King Gaylard (below) taken at some point after the great war. I cannot be certain which of his grandchildren the two boys are by the unfiorms they are wearing are of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) and a postman. My grandfather Charles King Gaylard was in the Buffs and his pother Ernest was a postman.