Trinity House maintains 69 lighthouses ranging from isolated rock towers
like the Eddystone to mainland towers like Southwold lighthouse.
All lighthouses have been automated since November 1998, when the UK's last manned lighthouse, North Foreland in Kent, was converted to automatic operation.
Lighthouse automation began as far back as 1910 thanks to an ingenious invention of Gustaf Dalen. His sun-valve was fitted in a number of lighthouses powered by acetylene gas. The vital component was a black metal rod, which was suspended vertically and connected to the gas supply. As it absorbed the sun's heat, the rod expanded downwards, cutting off the gas during the day.
Automation in the modern context began in the early 1980s, made possible firstly by the construction of lantern top helipads at remote rock lighthouses, to enable the rapid transfer of technicians to a lighthouse in the event of a breakdown - and secondly, by the development of remote control technology which enables all lighthouses and lightvessels to be monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Central Planning Unit, in Harwich, Essex.
To read information on each of our lighthouses, please go to the Lighthouses section.