You may have wondered what is happening at the East Lighthouse; you may have seen it ‘under wraps’ and wondered what was going on.
For Doug and Sue Hilton, the new owners of the Peter Scott Lighthouse, this is not good news. The wettest year on record and the coldest winter for fifty years have taken their toll. By the end of the long winter the sloping walls of the tower had become saturated and then froze, causing the render to crack at every level and in every direction. This caused the water to pour in and brought parts of the ceiling down, damaging the recent internal re-decoration.
Consequently, the Hiltons’ plans to open the Lighthouse and the visitor centre as part of The Snowgoose Project in the near future have been delayed.
The lighthouse is not alone in this, as many historic buildings suffered similar problems. English Heritage has continuing difficulty keeping ancient buildings dry and in particular, many of the church towers in their care and protection.
Doug Hilton has spent much time researching suitable solutions to this problem and has come across a rendering material that might work if an answer can be found to slow its setting time.
An additional problem was discovered when the new wooden replacement windows designed to be in keeping with its Grade II* listed status were ready to be installed. Many structural brickwork repairs now have to be done before replacing the windows. This is because of the strong likelihood that the brickwork may move again under the render, repeating the problems already faced.
This is not a new problem: when the previous owner, David Joel, bought the Lighthouse in 1985, he faced similar problems with damp and cracked render. Over the years he tried many methods of solving the problem but seemingly without success.
Doug and Sue have spent a lot of money, time and effort on getting this project up and running and this latest setback has meant that the planned August opening has had to be cancelled as the scaffolding will still be in place. However they remain optimistic that the East Lighthouse will be accessible to visitors at some time in the not too distant future.
Other works are still being undertaken: new fencing to the garden area is being installed to keep the fox out! Some of the couple’s wildfowl—three geese and two ducks—have already been killed by the fox.