The end of an era

A view of the lighthouse

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. The relatively modern land-based accommodation at South Foreland, however, allowed the keepers to live with his family and was considered a fortunate posting.

Modernisation

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.

The keepers’ cottages are now open to the public as a traditional tearoom called Mrs Knott's, named in honour of the families that have lived at the lighthouse.