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A chalk headland on the Kent coast of southeast England. North Foreland forms the eastern end of the Isle of Thanet. It presents a bold cliff to the sea, and commands views over the southern North Sea.

The map shows the location of the North Foreland lighthouse.

See also, South Foreland.


This text was copied from Wikipedia on 12 January 2019 at 6:01AM.

North Foreland is the eastern extremity of the Isle of Thanet

North Foreland[1] is a chalk headland on the Kent coast of southeast England.

North Foreland forms the eastern end of the Isle of Thanet. It presents a bold cliff to the sea, and commands views over the southern North Sea.


North Foreland Lighthouse
North Foreland Lighthouse - - 39652.jpg
North Foreland Lighthouse
North Foreland is located in Kent
North Foreland
LocationKent, United Kingdom Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates51°22′30″N 1°26′42″E / 51.37490°N 1.44510°E / 51.37490; 1.44510
Year first constructed1636 (first)
Year first lit1691 (current)
Constructionstone tower
Tower shapeoctagonal tower with balcony and lantern attaches to a 2-storey keeper's house
Markings / patternwhite tower and lantern
Tower height26 m (85 ft)
Focal height57 m (187 ft)
Current lens1st order catadioptric fixed lens
Light source4x 230 V 500 W halogen lamps
Intensity60,800 candela
Range19 nmi (35 km; 22 mi)
CharacteristicNorth Foreland Light Signal (FI W(5) 20s) Red Sector.gif
Fl (5) RW 20s.
Admiralty numberA0966
NGA number1364
ARLHS numberENG-087
Managing agentTrinity House[2] [3]
North Foreland lighthouse is visible on the right of the photo of Kingsgate Castle.


There was probably some sort of a beacon at an earlier period but the first distinct intimation concerning a lighthouse on the North Foreland is in the year 1636 when Charles I by letters-patent granted to Sir John Meldrum licence to continue and renew the lighthouses erected on the North and South Forelands.[4]

It seems that the lighthouse erected by Sir John consisted merely of a house built with timber lath and plaster on the top of which a light was kept in a large glass lantern for the purpose of directing ships in their course. This house was burnt down by accident in the year 1683 after which for some years use was made of a sort of beacon on which a light was hoisted. But near the end of the same century a strong octagonal structure of flint was erected on the top of which was an iron grate quite open to the air in which a good fire of coals was kept blazing at night.[4]

About the year 1732 the top of this lighthouse was covered with a sort of lantern with large sash windows and the fire was kept bright by bellows with which the attendants blew throughout the night. This contrivance is said to have been for the purpose of saving coals but it would seem more probable that it was in order to preserve the fire from being extinguished by rain. However the plan did not work well and great injury resulted to navigation as many vessels were lost on the sands from not seeing the light and so little was it visible at sea that mariners asserted that they had often in hazy weather seen the Foreland before they could discover the light. They added that before the lantern was placed there and when the fire was kept in the open air the wind kept the fire in a constant blaze which was seen in the air far above the lighthouse. Complaints of this sort were so loud and frequent that the governors of Greenwich Hospital to whom the lighthouse belonged sent Sir John Thomson to examine and make arrangements on the subject. He ordered the lantern to be taken away and things to be restored to nearly their former state the light to continue burning all the night until daylight.[4]

North Foreland Lighthouse by George Jackson, ca. 1839-1844

Towards the end of the 18th century the North Foreland Lighthouse underwent some considerable alterations and repairs. Two stories of brick were built on the original structure which raised it to the height of 100 feet including the room at the top in which the lights were kept. To prevent accidents from fire it was coated with copper as was also the gallery around it. This gallery used to be much frequented by the visitors to Margate on account of the extensive views.[4]

North Foreland lighthouse in about 1880 and showing the modernised light as it was after 1860

In 1860 under the supervision of engineer Henry Norris the light was changed to a dioptric manufactured by Sautter & Co. of Paris, replacing the previous catoptric apparatus of 18 Argand lamps & reflectors[5] and the two keepers cottages added. These works coincided with and were part of the successful experiments carried out in 1857-60 at the lighthouse by Professor Frederick Hale Holmes with an alternating current electric arc light[6] which were the subject of a lecture by Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution.[7] This preceded by a decade the construction of the world's first lighthouse designed for such a light, Souter Lighthouse.

During the Second World War a number of radar stations were set up by German forces in France and the Netherlands to detect allied aircraft flying across the English Channel and a chain of top secret radar jamming stations were set up by British scientists along the south east coast of Britain. An array of transmitters was set out around the gallery of the lighthouse controlled by equipment in the lower lantern as part of this chain.[8]

North Foreland lighthouse was the last manned lighthouse in the UK but was automated in a ceremony presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1998.[9] Dermot Cronin was one of last Principal Lighthouse Keepers that manned North Foreland lighthouse.[10]

A painting of the lighthouse by Elwin Hawthorne is in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum.[11]

Currently, the cottages around the lighthouse can be rented as holiday accommodation.


Two naval battles of the Anglo-Dutch Wars are called the Battle of the North Foreland after the cape:

Radio station

A coastal radio station was established adjacent to the light house in 1901. Its call sign was 'GNF'. The transmitting function was later moved about a mile inland, although the medium wave receiving aerial remained operational until closure in 1991.[12]

See also

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  1. ^ TR 39860 69616 51°22′30″N 1°26′42″E / 51.37490°N 1.44510°E / 51.37490; 1.44510
  2. ^ North Foreland The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved May 3rd, 2016
  3. ^ North Foreland Lighthouse Trinity House. Retrieved May 3rd, 2016
  4. ^ a b c d "The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge". Charles Knight. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2018 – via Google cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  5. ^ "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 2". p. 79.
  6. ^ "Lighthouse Illumination by Magneto-Electricity". The Dublin Builder. August 15, 1864. p. 14. an agreement was made for a trial at the South Foreland, but it was not till the of December that this experiment at an actual lighthouse was commenced... M. Reynaud, the Director-General of the French Lighthouses, inspected the light on April 20, 1859; it was visited by most of the members of the Royal Commission of Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, including myself, three days afterwards, and on the same day Professor Faraday wrote a report to the Trinity House. The opinions expressed were so far favourable that the Elder Brethren desired a further trial of six months, during which time the light was to be entirely under their own control, Mr. Holmes not being allowed interfere in any way. The light was again kindled on August 22
  7. ^ "Newcastle Courant". 30 March 1860. p. 3. MAGNETO-ELECTRIC LIGHT FOR LIGHTHOUSES - Professor Faraday, in a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution, says: "By means of a magnet, and of motion, we can get the some kind of electricity as from the battery; and, under the authority of the Trinity House, Professor Holmes has been occupied in introducing the magneto-electric light in the lighthouse at the North Foreland...For the last six months the North Foreland has been shining by means of this electric light beyond all comparison better than its former light. Never for once during six months has it failed in doing its duty
  8. ^ Douglas-Sherwood, Gerry (2004). "Radar Jamming at North Foreland Lighthouse" (PDF). World Lighthouse Society Newsletter. World Lighthouse Society. 2 (2): 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2006. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  9. ^ Anon (26 November 1998). "Lights out for the last keepers". BBC News UK. BBC. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Light goes out on maritime history". 26 October 1998. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  11. ^ "North Foreland Lighthouse, Broadstairs, Kent". Your Paintings. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Northforeland Radio Callsign "GNF"". Retrieved 6 January 2019.

External links

Coordinates: 51°22′29″N 1°26′42″E / 51.37472°N 1.44500°E / 51.37472; 1.44500

1 Annotation

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North Foreland -- A chalk headland on the Kent coast of southeast England, forming the eastern end of the Isle of Thanet. The high cliff commands views over the southern North Sea. The first documentation we have about a lighthouse on the North Foreland was in 1636 when King Charles, by letters-patent, granted to Sir John Meldrum licence to continue and renew the lighthouses erected on the North and South Forelands, so there was some sort of light there before this. Sir John's lighthouse was made of timber, lath and plaster, with a light on the top which was kept in a large glass lantern. This helped ships chart their course around the Goodwin Sands. This lighthouse burned down accidentally in 1683, and for a few years they used a beacon on top of which a light was hoisted. Near the end of the 1600s an octagonal flint lighthouse was built, with an iron grate on top, open to the air, in which a coal fire was kept blazing at night. This could be seen far out to sea because the wind constantly fanned the blaze.

Two naval battles during the Anglo-Dutch Wars are sometimes called the Battle of the North Foreland. They were:
The Battle of the Gabbard, 2–3 June 1653, in the First Anglo-Dutch War.
The St. James's Day Battle, 25–26 July 1666, in the Second Anglo-Dutch War.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Apr