Beachy Head: Lighthouse Painting Finished

The finishing touches of paint have been applied to a lighthouse at Beachy Head following a campaign to revive its fading red and white stripes.

A five-strong team of workmen has spent just under three weeks applying several coats of paint to freshen up the appearance of the 141ft Beachy Head lighthouse in East Sussex.

Martin Griffin, the managing director of Hailsham-based Sussex Blast Cleaning, which has overseen the project, said they were ``99.9%'' finished.

He said: "The last coat of red paint is being applied and then all we have got to do is the handrail and some general touching up, then we should be done.

"We have done it in just under three weeks. We lost four days due to some bad weather, but we have worked quickly using sprays, rollers and brushes.

"Crown Paints, which has donated the paint used in the project, say it should last up to 10 years. It looks absolutely brilliant now, particularly with the sun shining on it.''

A £27,000 fundraising campaign was launched after Trinity House, which oversees navigational aids around parts of Britain's coastline, said the lighthouse was no longer needed as a daymark, the reason for its eye-catching appearance.

The distinctive stripes were to be left to fade to their natural granite grey colour because of the cost of repainting the lighthouse.

But locals - backed by celebrities including Eddie Izzard, John Craven and Bill Bryson - stepped in to raise the money needed to give it a makeover.

Campaign co-ordinator Shirley Moth said: ``It is beyond our expectations. It just looks so bright, and you realise how much it had faded.

"They have done such a brilliant job, and we are all so proud. Once you start a campaign like this, you realise how many other people feel the same.''

The lighthouse has sat more than 500ft below the summit of the chalk cliffs of Beachy Head since being brought into service in 1902.

Designed under the direction of Sir Thomas Matthews, the then engineer-in-chief of Trinity House, it is made of 3,660 tonnes of fine Cornish granite.

It was automated and de-manned in June 1983 and is monitored remotely 24 hours a day by Trinity House's operations and planning centre at Harwich, Essex.

Trinity House has previously defended the decision not to repaint the lighthouse, saying it had a duty to ensure all its expenditure was justified.