Britain’s Oldest Lighthouse Opting For New LED Light

Located in beautiful Jersey, La Corbière lighthouse is the oldest concrete structure of its kind in the British Isles. If a recent planning application to replace its lamp with a powerful LED is approved, it could see a huge leap into the 21st century.

The lighthouse is set on a tidal island out at sea, surrounded by dark rocks. At low tide, you can walk the causeway, past rock pools and sandy beaches to visit its old-school splendour.

Why LED?

Ports of Jersey, the company which manages the facility, says it is becoming increasingly tricky to source the aluminium halide bulbs used in the navigational aid, sometimes having to import them from as far as the USA.

It is also uncertain just how long the bulbs will be available for in the future, making it essential that something is done to future-proof the life of the lighthouse. Currently, a two-panel shutter, inside a powerful lens, rotates around the light bulb, causing a flash to be emitted. The shutter’s mechanism sits within a bath of mercury to minimise friction.

If the application is approved the rotating two-panel shutter would be removed as the LED light source can be flashed. Therefore, the shutter is not required and would impact on the operational capability of the new LED light.

Through the ages

The current light mechanism features a large crystal lens which has been in place since the lighthouse was built in 1873. Ports of Jersey has said that, due to advances in LED light technology, the lens can stay in place and remain as an active and functioning part of the lighthouse.

It is not the first time the facility has been upgraded. When the structure was first built, it relied on a vaporised paraffin lamp, but this was replaced by the electric bulbs – still used today – in 1965.

In 2016 a decision was taken to decommission the lighthouse’s powerful electric foghorn, following advances in radar, charts and satellite navigation technology.