Seaham North Breakwater

Seaham North Breakwater Lighthouse
Seaham North Breakwater
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
Seaham Harbour Authority

When Charles William Vane, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry bought Seaham Hall and the Milbanke estate in 1821 he soon set about transforming the local area, developing the modern town of Seaham.

Seaham's first harbour was built in 1828 as a means of transporting goods to and from the growing town and so, a temporary wooden lighthouse was built on Red Acre Point, roughly where the modern breakwater starts today. The temporary strucure burned down in 1836 and was replaced with a tall stone lighthouse. The harbour encouraged the first coal mine in the town to open in 1845 and the subsequent increase in demand for coal rendered the small harbour inadequate, so new plans for a greater harbour consisting of two larger breakwaters were submitted to Parliament in 1898. By 1905 the new harbour works had been completed and the North breakwater was finished with a 10 meter high cylindrical lighthouse of steel construction, with a glazed lantern room, domed roof and gallery. It is probably that this lighthouse was designed and constructed by Chance Brothers of Birmingham, as were many harbour lights at this time.

When the breakwaters and new lighthouse were completed the tall column-like lighthouse on Red Acre Point was decomissioned, although it survived until 1940, when it was demolished so not to aid the enemy in identifying and navigating the area in WWII.

In the 1960s the gallery around the lantern was mostly removed, except for a small portion on the southern side of the lighthouse, where the lantern room door is.

A green LED lamp is shown from inside the lantern, which gives a single 1.2 second duration flash every 10 seconds or in bad weather shows a fixed green light. The tower also has an electric fog signal which gives a blast every 30 seconds in periods of low visbility.

The lighthouse is probably most famous for the photos of it that appear in British news whenever there is a large storm, as it's not uncommon for big waves to dramatically break against the wall and crash over the top of the lighthouse.

The South breakwater plays host to an unremarkable red painted light pole.