Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Inside Hurst Point Lighthouse

I returned to the spit the following day and finally the opportunity came for me to enter inside Hurst Point Lighthouse, with many thanks to Sean Crane who maintains the lighthouse in working order.

For some time now I had only viewed the lighthouse from its exterior, admiring its perfect white walls rising into the skies. Small glimpses through the key hole and windows and a photograph in the museum had hinted at a spiral staircase on the interior with a central void...

I wasn't let down, entering through the door and into the structure the echoes of our voices drew my eyes up to the height of the tower. Four small windows flooded the open interior with light as a narrow staircase circled up the walls, disappearing into the Service Room at the top.
In many other lighthouses the interior of the lighthouse serves as living space and is divided into rooms where the lighthouse keeper would have lived, at Hurst Point there are cottages separate to the structure and therefore the height of this impressive structure can be fully appreciated internally.

I slowly escalated the staircase, as my fear of vertigo emerged and then some how seemed to be overpowered by my elation at finally being able to ascend this structure. At the top of the staircase I appeared in the Service Room where there are two high intensity projectors which were installed in 1997, prompted by the growth in volume and diversity of traffic in the Needles Channel. 'The projectors, sited in the service room below the lantern of the High Lighthouse, provide an accurate system of red, green and white directional lights giving precise cut offs over narrow arcs of visibility which can be realigned in the event of movement of the Shingles Bank.' - Trinity House website

A vertical steel ladder lead up to the Lantern Room.

At the centre of the lantern room are three tiny 50 Watt Tungsten Halogen bulbs, surrounded by a huge first order Fresnel lens. The lens is separated into sectors of different focal length with a red sector provided by a strip on the lantern. The bulbs flash four times every fifteen seconds.
Large triangular storm panes are supported on diagonal metal Astragal bars, and provide a view across the western approaches to the Solent and Hurst Castle.

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