Since our last update in July, some good news has emerged concerning the renovation works to the East Lighthouse that is being undertaken by the owners, Doug and Sue Hilton.
Following the very wet and long winter serious damage was done to the fabric (see below) and as a consequence the planned August open days had to be cancelled this year.
The problem was exacerbated because of the strict rules that apply to renovations on historic Grade II* listed buildings in general and the East Lighthouse in particular. Over a period of months, Doug Hilton researched solutions to the problems he faced in repairing it to the satisfaction of English Heritage.
The good news is that the lighthouse tower windows have now been replaced and the lantern room and top two lifts of the circular part of the tower have been rendered and Doug & Sue hope to have it completely rendered and the scaffold down and gone in about four weeks’ time.
It has cost approximately £350 per week to keep the scaffolding in place, which has been necessary in order for the Hiltons to make sure they could get the right material for the render, to avoid it deteriorating in the future.
They have used ‘Roman Cement’, which usually has a fast setting time, and which would not have been suitable in this particular case in that form.. However, the restorers have been totally successful in slowing down the setting time and the lighthouse is the first building in more than one hundred years to use Roman Cement as a general use render material.
As a consequence of this success, the project has become a focus of interest for English Heritage, The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings and many others institutions.
A film is to be made showing the lighthouse restoration and rendering process that has been carried out, as well a series of lectures planned to be presented at conservation seminars in the near future.
The Hiltons are delighted at how things have worked out. They are excited and pleased that the East Lighthouse, well known as the birthplace of global nature conservation, is now also playing its part in world-leading building conservation.