Worldwide Lighthouses

Portland Bill Lighthouse

Portland Bill

General Information


Established: 1716

Current Lighthouse Built: 1906

Height: 41 Metres (134.51 Feet)

Automated: 1996

Operator: Trinity House

Designer: Sir Thomas Matthews

Light Information


White: 25 Nautical Miles

Red: 13 Nautical Miles

Portland Bill's newest lighthouse was constructed in 1906 to the design of Sir Thomas Matthews and placed on the southern extremity of the bill, to take over from the two earlier unreliable towers that were used as a set of range lights.

The 41 metre high tower - typical of a lighthouse designed by Matthews, is one of many built around the coast at the time, and is probably one of the better known lighthouses in Britain, partly due to the the famous childrens television

programme on which it is based; 'The Adventures of Portland Bill' in which all the characters are named after British Lighthouses or Nautical terms.

The lighthouse does infact contain two seperate lamps - one is white and is shown from the lantern at the top of the tower like most lighthouses - it gives a character of 4 grouped flashes every 20 Seconds and is visible for 25 nautical

miles, although Between 221°and 224° and 117° and 141° the arangement of the optic pannels gives the light the character of just one flash every 20 seconds.

The range of the fixed red sector light is 13 nautical miles and is shown from nearer the base of the tower, shining between the East and West Shambles buoys - it is seen by vessels approaching from the east which may be in danger of

crossing the shambles, which was also marked by a lightship up until 1963.

The keepers houses became the home to one of Trinity House's excelent visitor centres and when the lighthouse was automated, an attendant was appointed to look after the light, staying in the dwellings next to the popular tourist

attraction. Tours are given conducted by the attendants/keepers who used to tend the lighthouse up to its automation in 1996. The lighthouse is often open to the puplic, who can climb the tower, see the inner workings of the fog horn

and see the fresnel lens in the lantern room. The unique diaphone fog horn, built into the tower is occasionally sounded.

Nowadays, a fog signal that is installed in one of the window alcoves near the base of the tower gives a 3.5 Second Blast Every 30 Seconds, audible for 2 nautical miles.

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