Lighthouses of England

The front light (right) and the rear light (left) at Littlehampton Pier (2003)

On Thursday 5 June 2003 I decided to visit Littlehampton, a small south coastal town that I have never visited before. To get to it, I drove east along the M27/A27 from Portsmouth, past Chichester until I arrived at Arundel - itself one of the gems of the south coast. Here, the road crosses the River Arun, a very pretty river that winds its way south and reaches the sea at Littlehampton. The road to Littlehampton was a right turning soon after crossing the river and was signposted.

The seaside town of Littlehampton seems to be an agglomeration of several small towns situated on the beach and is consequently larger than perhaps it ought to be. It is pleasant enough, but suffers from the same kind of run-down feeling that many British seaside towns have in these days when we all go abroad for our holidays. I quickly found the seafront. The Arun forms the western boundary of the town and all the listed lightstructures are situated at the mouth of the channel where the river meets the sea. There is a modern concrete jetty on the eastern side, with the main Littlehampton East Pier Rear lighthouse at the root of the pier. This is a modern buttressed concrete structure with an enclosed lantern that occults white every 7.5 seconds with an orange sector. The white light leads boats into the channel and the orange warns them of straying off course. According to my definition, this is a lighthouse, but is probably at the boundary of acceptance as such. There is no doubt that a person would be 'inside' it when carrying out maintenance, but it is surely a very cramped working space. The Rear light is in line with the Front light, a simple black pole that shows a fixed green light. This is located on the east pier, although not quite at the end. 



From the end of the east pier, a line of markers extends southwards, indicating the channel, and terminates with a light that is referred to as the Training Wall light in the ALL. There appeared to be some fairly severe eddy currents here where the river waters met the sea. On the western side, there is a second pier, extending a hundred metres of so farther south than the east pier, and at the end of which is the western jetty lightstructure.

There is no quick or easy way of crossing to the western bank. I was forced to drive out of the town, taking the road towards Bognor Regis. After about a kilometre, I was able to turn left, in the direction of the west beach, marina and golf course. The road leads directly to the marina, but just before you arive there, you can turn right towards the west beach and golf course. There is extended parking along the roadside and some very narrow lanes that lead eventually to the beach itself, the golf course being on the right.

At the beach you cannot walk on the jetty which, it seems, was not constructed for human traffic. As a result, I could not get closer to the western jetty light than the shingle beach. However, a good view is obtained of the two eastern pier lights and the channel they mark.

I tried to find the light listed as UMA Wharf in the ALL. Equipped with my new GPS, I entered its co-ordinates and set off, walking north along the narrow concrete wall that formed the west bank of the Arun channel. It appears that the black pole that I was searching is located inside a building site where blocks of new apartments are under construction on the east bank. There was a substantial slipway situated between two such blocks and I could see a black pole on the northwestern corner of the wharf, immediately south of the slipway. I took this to be the lightstructure, but there appeared to be no light at this time. I was unable to confirm this identification.

From Littlehampton, I returned home through Bognor Regis, a significant seaside resort of renoun. There was supposedly a lightstructure showing 2FR(vert) at the end of the pier. I was disappointed to find that the pier, along with many other traditional British piers, was sadly neglected and in such poor condition that, apart from the usual shoreside gambling den to house the inevitable 'amusement arcade', the pier was close being deemed unsafe. I was able to see the lightstructure at the end of the pier and it appeared to be a simple pole. I could see what looked like a light on the top, but it did not correspond very well with what I had expected, neither did it look especially functional.




Littlehampton Training Wall (2003)



MV Scarcity leaving Littlehampton; original painting by Frank H Mason RI