Painting the Downs red - well the lighthouse anyway!

CountyClean sponsors renovation of Beachy Head Lighthouse
CountyClean sponsors renovation of Beachy Head Lighthouse

The repainting of the Beachy Head Lighthouse finally got underway on Saturday morning – marking the end of a two year fundraising campaign by the community.

The external redecoration is expected to take about three weeks and involves a specialist team staying on the iconic landmark to carry out the work depending on the weather.

The lighthouse’s distinctive red and white stripes will be reinstated and all other exposed surfaces will be fully decorated and protected using a range of specially formulated marine and offshore coatings jointly donated by UK manufacturer Crown Paints and parent company Hempel AS in Denmark.

The companies became involved when one of Crown’s key customers, Eastbourne-based Brewers, brought the Keep the Beachy Head Lighthouse’s Stripes campaign to their attention.

More than £27,000 was eventually raised through the campaign which was established when lighthouse owners, Trinity House, announced the red and white day marker stripes were no longer deemed essential for navigation purposes and that redecorating expenditure could not be justified.

The Keep the Stripes Facebook group, the Eastbourne Herald and Eastbourne Rotary AM all worked together to organise events to raise money including the Lighthouse Challenge Walk which saw almost 250 people walk out to the landmark.

The money raised by the fundraisers is covering the costs of the specialist work required and the transportation of the decorating team and all materials and equipment to and from the lighthouse.

“Everyone at Trinity House, the body responsible for providing aids to navigation for shipping is delighted that Crown Paints, Hempel UK and the Keep the Stripes team have joined forces and engaged with us to ensure that Beachy Head Lighthouse can be repainted and restored to its former glory,” said Simon Millyard, Trinity House engineering and operations manager.

Nick Frowen, managing director of Hempel UK said, “Hempel supplies marine and protective coatings in more than 80 countries around the world, and here in the UK Crown Paints has been protecting lighthouses with its own Sandtex systems for 50 years, so we’re ideally positioned to assist at Beachy Head.

“Brewers encouraged us to get involved as the lighthouse is right on their doorstep and important to their community. We decided to make the donation of these coatings to support them in their home town and also to mark the coming together of Hempel and Crown Paints.”

Sussex Blast Cleaners is the Hailsham based restoration and coating experts firm which successfully tendered for the project and is carrying out the work.

A four strong handpicked team of specialist painters have erected a bespoke scaffold tower to allow the lantern area to be painted.

Then, using special anchor points around the balcony, they are abseiling down the lighthouse to repaint the red and white stripes. The work is anticipated to take at least three weeks, but is dependent on weather conditions.

Managing director Martin Griffin said, “I’ve selected a team of local men, specially trained in abseiling, restoration work and the application of complex coating systems. It’s certainly going to be a very challenging job, and it won’t be easy living in such cramped quarters either, but it’s a once in lifetime opportunity to make our mark on a building we all know and love, so we’re all really keen to be involved.”

Chairman of Brewers, Mark Brewer said, “We’re a local company, based in Eastbourne since 1904 and Beachy Head lighthouse is very close to our hearts. We know how much it means to the local community so we’re pleased to have been involved in the project and look forward to it looking its best again.”

Shirley Moth, the co-ordinator of the Keep the Stripes Campaign Team said, “After two years of fundraising, the campaign team is delighted the Beachy Head Lighthouse stripes will be repainted in the next few weeks. A big thank you to Crown Paints and Hempel for donating the paint for this project and to everyone who has supported us and donated to the campaign to help make our dream of a red and white future possible.”