The end of lighthouse keeping at South Foreland
There are two keepers’ cottages on site at the foot of South Foreland Lighthouse. These were built in 1842 so keepers and their families could live onsite. They had the one of the best views in the world, looking out to France across the English Channel.
Lighthouse keeping was a highly professional and disciplined service that made demands of both the keepers and their families. The keepers would be posted to different lighthouses spending a good deal of time on remote lights, far from their families. However the relatively modern land-based accommodation at South Foreland allows the keepers to live with his family and was considered a fortunate posting.
The service took advantage of changes in technology which in turn affected the lives of the keepers and their families. A major change occurred in 1922 when mains electricity was brought to South Foreland for the first time and the 50-year old Holmes generator was finally shut down - it is said much to the relief of the keepers. At the same time some of the mechanical functions in the lighthouse were automated.
The last keepers
The lighthouse finally became fully automated in 1969, and the resident keepers were transferred to other lighthouses. From that time a single resident Lighthouse Attendant was available to undertake routine maintenance.
Trinity House finally relinquished responsibility for South Foreland when the light closed down in 1989, and we took over this historic landmark.
One of the keepers’ cottages can now be rented from the as a holiday cottage, and you can enjoy a traditional cream tea in the other cottage which is now Mrs Knott’s tea room.