Portland Port has completed the restoration of the historic lighthouse situated at the main entrance to the harbour.
Two opportunities were available to the port – the cheaper option to ‘retire’ the current lighthouse and replace it with a modern one, or to restore it to maintain the historical integrity of the breakwater. After deliberating, the decision was made to restore it.
The northern and north eastern breakwaters of Portland Harbour were constructed at the turn of the twentieth century, at a time when hostilities with Germany were developing. The harbour was then home to the British fleet and additional breakwaters gave extra protection.
The ‘A’ head lighthouse on the southern round head of the north-eastern breakwater, would have been constructed around this time, in approximately 1906. Little is known about the construction and it is one of the few remaining operating lighthouses of its kind in England. The decision to restore the lighthouse was made after the last survey found it to be in a heavily corroded state.
Invitations to tender were sent out and the restoration contract was awarded to Quest Marine Ltd.
Ned Wiltshire, from Quest, said: “It was a great honour for Quest to be asked by Portland Port to undertake the restoration of the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse. The project involved transporting a large amount of plant and equipment by barge to the breakwater. Over ten tons of scaffolding was erected to allow us access to all parts of the structure. The work was carried out by Quest staff from the Weymouth and Portland area. We have very much enjoyed the challenge of giving this historic local landmark a new lease of life.”
The structure is exposed to the elements so it was not easy to carry out the work but the transformation is nothing short of miraculous with the lighthouse looking brand new. The original manufacturer of the lighthouse is cast in to the support legs - Change Brothers of Birmingham. The company was founded in 1824 as a leading glass manufacturer and a pioneer of British glass-making technology and in 1851 became a major lighthouse engineering company, producing optical components, machinery and other equipment for lighthouses around the world.
The company is also associated with the manufacture of parts of Portland Bill lighthouse.
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