Heritage Locations

North Foreland Lighthouse

The site of a light since 1499 and the last Trinity House lighthouse to be automated.


Period of construction:
1650 - 1699

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

North Foreland Road, Broadstairs, CT10 1NW

CT10 1NW

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

A light was first exhibited at North Foreland in 1499, but the first true lighthouse was built by Sir John Meldrum in 1636. The lighthouse consisted of a two storey octagonal tower made of timber, lath and plaster with an iron coal burning grate on top. This tower was destroyed by fire in 1683.

A temporary measure of a single candle in a lantern hoisted on a pole proved, not surprisingly, ineffective and the present structure was built in 1691; originally the tower was 12 m (39 ft) tall constructed of brick, stone and flint. In 1698 the lighthouse is recorded as using 100 tonnes of coal a year.

North Foreland Lighthouse came into the hands of the Trustees of Greenwich Hospital in 1719, who used the surplus from the light dues for the upkeep of the hospital for the benefit of seamen. They enclosed the fire in a glazed lantern in 1719 but this was removed in 1730 after complaints from shipping. In 1793 a further two storeys were added to the tower and the coal fire was replaced by 18 oil lamps.

Trinity House purchased the lighthouse in 1832. In 1890 a separate room known as the lantern house, was built on to the top of the tower to accommodate the light. North Foreland was the last Trinity Lighthouse to be automated.


Bowen, J.P., British Lighthouses, British Council, ASIN: B001A8HS24 (1947)

Denton, A. & Leach, Nicholas, Lighthouses of England and Wales: A Complete Guide, Landmark Publishing, ISBN-10: 1843063190 (2007)

Hague, Douglas and Christie, Rosemary, Lighthouses, Their Architecture, History and Archaeology, Gomer Press, ISBN-0850883245(1975)

Naish, John, Seamarks, Their History and Development Adlard Coles Nautical, ISBN-10: 0540073091 (1985)

Nicholson, Christopher, Rock lighthouses of Britain; The end of an era?, Whittles Publishing, ISBN 1870325419. (1995)

Payton, Charles, Lighthouses: Towers of the Sea, National Trust Books, ISBN-10: 1905400128 (2006)

Woodman, Richard & Wilson, Jane, The Lighthouses of Trinity House. ISBN 1 904050 00 X. (2002) 

Opening Times:
Not open to the public.

How To Find:
By road: Off B2052, North Foreland Road, to the north of Broadstairs.


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