Tag Archives: lighthouse

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Light House. Eastbourne.

10 Sep

This is probably my favourite postcard at the moment, it shows Belle Tout lighthouse east of Beachy Head near Eastbourne, East Sussex. For a postcard that is over 100 years old the colours are incredibly vibrant and the novelty of feeding chickens on Beachy Head is just so appealing to me. I can’t help wondering if any of the chickens ever tumbled over the edge of the cliff!

Beachy Head Light House

Both the front and the back have been written on, and helpfully the date appears to have been written on the front, 14.9.03 and a set of initials. As you can see the back just has a name and address on it, Miss Booth of Oxford Street, Ripley.

Beachy Head Light House (reverse)

I wonder if Miss Booth ever got this card, the marks on the corners attest to the fact that it has been in an album for a long time, and I wonder who L.A.L. was?

The Wandering Genealogist returns to Beachy Head

14 Aug

I cannot help myself, it must be an addiction, it seems I take every available opportunity to visit Beachy Head. Today’s excuse was paying a visit the airshow at Eastbourne, East Sussex.

It was a rare opportunity when both my wife and I had a day off together and nothing else more pressing to do. For me it was pure indulgence, no work, no genealogy, no (serious) walking, just enjoying the scenery and the flying.

Grey skies over Eastbourne

Beachy Head was not perfect as a viewpoint for the airshow, with the aircraft displaying along the seafront at Eastbourne it is a little bit too far away, although several of them did arrive or depart over Beachy Head. What it does have is lots of open space and terrific views all round.

As you can see the conditions were not perfect at the start, the day began with grey skies (and a light rain shower whilst on the bus) but it did clear later on. Even whilst the skies elsewhere were blanketed in cloud, Beachy Head seemed to be basking in sunshine. It really felt like a privileged position.

Having taken the bus up to the top of Beachy Head we felt that we at least ought to walk back down to Eastbourne to get the bus back to Brighton. We made our way down the side of the hill and walked along the foot of the hills and into the town. This gave me a chance to get a photo of Beachy Head lighthouse and the cliffs.

Chalk cliff and lighthouse

The flying display was excellent, especially as we got closer to centre of the action on Eastbourne seafront, I prefer the older historic aircraft, but my wife preferred the faster and noisier modern jets, like the F-16, which I must admit was absolutely awesome. Unfortunately the seafront also meant crowds of people and traffic, which was a real contrast to the slopes of Beachy Head. We didn’t hang around long, we had a bus to catch, and the crowds were a bit too much for us.Blue skies and The Blades at Eastbourne

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney

17 May

Here is another postcard of Beachy Head Lighthouse, near Eastbourne, East Sussex. This one includes part of the cliff as well, Devils Chimney, the pinnacle of chalk with two seagulls perched on top.

Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney

The view on the front of the card is not that outstanding, aside from the typo in the caption the most interesting thing for me about this card was the cachet on the back.

Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney (back)

A cachet is a printed or stamped design, not the same as the cancellation (or postmark) that it gets when it passes through the postal system, which was added to the piece of mail for some special reason.

In this case the cachet indicates that the card was sold at the Watch Tower, Beachy Head. According to the book Beachy Head by John Surtees (S.B. Publications, 1997) an alternative use had been found for the Watch Tower.

Between the wars, when the Watch Tower was no longer needed for its original purpose, it was transformed into a kiosk selling postcards to holidaymakers. The octagonal building was lantern-shaped with a weathervane on the roof, and each of the eight walls had a window. Postcards (some of which showed the semaphore masts) could be sent from the kiosk and bore the cachets “Watch Tower, Beachy Head” within a double-line diamond (1920), or an oval (1935). This correspondence was sent en-masse to the Eastbourne sorting office and cancelled there in the usual way.

The book illustrates three other different styles of Watch Tower cachet which I will have to look out for. I don’t imagine that they are that rare given the number of visitors that must have made their way up to Beachy Head.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Old Lighthouse – Beachy Head

10 May

Last week I showed you a postcard of the current Beachy Head lighthouse, now it is the turn of the old Beachy Head lighthouse, also known as Belle Tout lighthouse (named after the cliff on which it sits).

The Old Lighthouse - Beachy Head

Like the previous postcard there is no clue as to the publisher or the date it was published, other than a divided back which dates it after 1902. This is confirmed by the fact that the caption refers to "the old lighthouse".

The new lighthouse took over from the old lighthouse in 1902. The lighthouse began protecting shipping to the west of Eastbourne, East Sussex in 1828, and after it was replaced by the new lighthouse the building was converted to a private residence.

The lighthouse still stands today, and although it has been featured in several television programmes, the most interesting chapter in it’s history came in March 1999 when the entire building (all 850 tons of it) was pushed 55 feet further away from the cliff edge by hydraulic jacks.

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

7 May

The lighthouse at Beachy Head just to the west of the town of Eastbourne, East Sussex is a well known and well photographed landmark. Naturally there is no shortage of postcards of the lighthouse and the cliffs, but this one is probably one of the finest I have seen.

Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

This postcard was published by Valentines, but I don’t know when, probably around 1910-20. The postcard has a divided back, which dates it after 1902, which doesn’t really help because that is when the lighthouse was constructed.

This lighthouse was built as a replacement for an earlier lighthouse which stood up on the cliff top (rather than at sea level) and slightly further to the west at Belle Tout. The lighthouse was automated in 1983 and still warns off shipping, at the same time as attracting hundreds of sightseers to the cliffs above.

More wandering, starting the South Downs Way

27 Apr

As if walking the North Downs Way wasn’t enough, I have started walking the South Downs Way (SDW) as well. I say started, but I don’t know when I shall finish, or indeed when I shall walk the next part, but I have at least made a start.

Start of the South Downs Way

The photo above shows the start (or end) of the SDW, in Eastbourne, East Sussex. It is right on the western edge of the town, and is about 1½ miles from the railway station mainly through residential streets.

I have decided to do this walk alone, in fact it was partly the solitude and time to think that I wanted to experience and was my reason for starting today. It also means that I can go at my own speed and stop at places of interest on the way, without having to worry about inconveniencing anyone else. I know that when I get further west I will be in ancestral territory and my pace will no doubt slow down dramatically.

This first section was according to the guide book 7½ miles, from Eastbourne to Exceat, by way of Beachy Head, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. I have been to all these places before, but have never walked them all in one go.

There is so much history in this landscape. From prehistory to the Second World War. The cliff top at Beachy Head is littered with monuments and other features that attest to this rich history.

My pace today wasn’t particularly fast, partly because I haven’t done much serious walking yet this year, but mainly because I kept stopping the take photos. I had forgotten how beautiful and striking the landscape was. The photo below is of one of the most striking features, Beachy Head lighthouse.

Beachy Head Lighthouse

Birling Gap is a small group of buildings that have gathered around an access point to the beach. The buildings are gradually disappearing into the sea as the cliffs slowly erode, but whilst they remain they act as a honey pot to tourists and visitors to the coast.

Heading west from Birling Gap are the Seven Sisters, a range of cliffs with which I have something of a love-hate relationship. I love the challenge of tackling the rise and fall of the hills, and admire the fabulous views, but once I get started I usually regret it, when my legs start to complain. Every year they seem to get steeper!

Seven Sisters

The best views are of course not from the Sisters themselves, but from Birling Gap (shown above) or Seaford Head (on the far left of the photo). It is possible (although I am not sure that it is advisable) at low tide to walk along the foot of the cliffs.

Last year after my holiday in South Devon I thought that the Sussex coastline was quite dull in comparison to that of South Devon, but today I have changed my mind. I think I have definitely fallen in love with chalk!

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