South Foreland Lighthouse
The first lighthouse to use an electric light
Discover the history of the lighthouse
The early history of the lighthouse is a result of the deaths caused by the infamous Goodwin Sands, which, for centuries had caused terrible loss of life to mariners navigating the channel.
In 1832 both the upper and lower lighthouse at South Foreland were purchased by Trinity house and they began a programme of improvements to the lights, which give the buildings that we would recognise today.
The Knott family were lighthouse keepers at South Foreland for five generations and were probably the longest dynasty of keepers anywhere in the world. During their time here they would have seen many important changes to the lighthouse as electricity and wireless communication were introduced, changing their jobs forever.
South Foreland Lighthouse was fully automated in 1969 with both the keepers being transferred to other lighthouses. The National Trust took over the care of the lighthouse in 1989 and it opened to the public for the first time in 1990.
The coast around the lighthouse was changed beyond recognition during the Second World War, being fortified with coastal artillery and ground-breaking radar, preparing for an invasion that would thankfully never come.
Michael Faraday was one of the most influential scientists in the world. In his role as scientific adviser to Trinity House, he would transform their lighthouses into the most technologically advanced in the world.
Guglielmo Marconi did some of the world's first radio experiments at South Foreland Lighthouse including the first ship to shore wireless transmission and the first international wireless transmission in 1899.
James Walker was an eminent Victorian engineer who worked on many civil engineering projects across Britain, he also designed both lighthouses at South Foreland and was chief engineer for Trinity House for 38 years.