Sovereign Light TowerSovereign Light Tower
Sovereign Light Tower

In pictures: Iconic piece of Sussex maritime history preserved for the future

The Lantern tower of the famous Sovereign Lighthouse has been brought safely back to shore and is set to go on permanent display in a Sussex town.

The lighthouse, which was a landmark on the horizon off the Sussex coast, has been there since 1971. It replaced a lightship that had marked the Royal Sovereign Shoal since 1875.

The structure was decommissioned and has been taken apart, but the distinctive red and white striped lantern tower has been saved.

It was taken ashore at Shoreham and has now been taken by lorry to Bexhill where it will be on permanent display. Bexhill is a fitting home for it as there is already a pub named the Sovereign Lighthouse in the town and the Sovereign Light Cafe, on the seafront, where the band Keane once filmed a video.

The lantern tower will form the centrepiece of a new Maritime Environment Centre planned for East Parade.

The lantern tower has been rescued by the new charity Bexhill Maritime, working in conjunction with Trinity House, the organisation which runs and looks after lighthouses in England and Wales.

It will be stored at a secure location until the centre is built. Bexhill Maritime has inspected the tower and says it is in remarkably good condition, especially since it has spent 53 years sitting in the English Channel.

The cabin section of the Royal Sovereign is being broken-up and recycled. All that is left now is the pillar, which is still visible on the horizon. This will be taken down next year.

So all that will be left is the lantern tower, which will become a focal point on the seafront. The Bexhill Maritime Environment Centre will, subject to planning permission, be sited at the bottom of Galley Hill.

The charity’s aims are to advance the public’s education in the subjects of climate change and the marine environment. The subjects will form part of the displays in the centre. It will also showcase

the various forms of renewable energy.

The display space will have maritime artefacts and will include tributes to those who have connections to the sea – fishermen, coastguards, RNLI, lifeguards and lighthouse keepers. The centre will include a community room for local organisations and a refreshments area. It will also incorporate a new clubroom for Bexhill Sea Angling Club.

Pictures by Ray Konyn.

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