Cromer Lighthouse situated in the town of Cromer on the coast in the English county of Norfolk.
There has been a lighthouse
on the cliff top at Foulness, east of the town of Cromer since 1669. Before this time a light was shone from the top of Cromer parish church
to act as a guide to passing shipping
. Although this light was small it had always been useful, as had many similar ecclesiastical
lights that were dotted around the coastline of Great Britain from medieval times.
It was a man called Sir John Clayton who put forward the proposal for a lighthouse at Foulness, Cromer along with five other lighthouses on four different sites. As well as Cromer, His plan was to place lights at the Farne Islands
, Flamborough Head
close to Lowestoft
. In 1669 Clayton along with his partner George Blake received the comprehensive patent for the four sites and work began to erect the lighthouses. each tower had cost the men £3,000 and their patent would last for 60 years with specified rates due to be paid to partners by the owners of passing vessels, although dues were only paid voluntarily.
The cost of maintaining the lighthouse proved to be very high and this, plus reluctance on the part of ship-owners to part with there voluntary payments lead to a situation were Clayton and Blake could not afford to keep the fire kindled at the top of the Cromer tower. Nevertheless the Cromer Lighthouse was still of some use as a beacon and was marked on Admiralty charts
as “a lighthouse but no fire kept in it”. With the Clayton tower falling into disrepair, the owner of the land at Foulness, Nathaniel Life, was convinced that a Lighthouse repaired and maintained was essential at the site. In 1719 a new patent was granted. Dues were set to shipping at the rate of a farthing
per ton of general cargo and a halfpenny
per chaldron (25 cwt) of Newcastle
coal. Nathaniel Life and Edward Bowell jointly received a 61 year lease from Trinity House
at a rental of £100 on the undertaking that Nathaniel Life would pass the lighthouse plus one acre
of land in to the ownership of Trinity House at the end of the 61 years. The lighthouse now maintained a coal fire enclosed in the Lantern.
In 1792 Cromer Lighthouse was in the possession of Trinity House and was fitted a second flashing light, five reflectors and a Argand oil fired lamps on three sides of the revolving frame. Aimé Argand had perfected his cylindrical wick lamp which provided a central current of air through the burner, thus allowing the more perfect combustion of the gas issuing from the wick. Sperm oil, costing 5s. to 8s. per gallon, was used in Cromer lighthouse This new and recurrent and rapid obscureness of the light was a constant bugbear of some seamen. The first keepers of the Cromer Lighthouse were two young women who jointly received a pound a week for their wage. The lighthouse's position at Foulness was becoming precarious due to rapid cliff erosion along this part of the North Norfolk coast. The seas encroachment at the base of the cliff caused several land slips with serious slides recorded in 1799, 1825 and 1852 . The lighthouse finally succumbed to the waves' actions in 1866 when it finally slipped down into the sea.
The present lighthouse
With the expected destruction of the old lighthouse plans to build a new lighthouse had been put into place long before the loss of 1866. The present lighthouse was built half of a mile from the cliff edge and came into operation in 1833. It is constructed of masonry and the tower is octagonal in shape and is tall. Electricity was installed in 1958 to power the light. The Light is above sea level. In June 1990 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation and is monitored from the Trinity House Operation Control Centre at Harwich
. As a consequence of automation the lighthouse keeper's cottage alongside the tower is now let out as holiday apartment although the property is still owned by Trinity House. The lighthouse tower is not open to the public but visits can be made by appointment.