Shornemead (1913)

Shornemead (1913) Lighthouse
Shornemead (1913)
Current Version Built:
Height (ft):
Port of London Authority

Shornemead Lighthouse was an early prefabricated light built in 1913 by Trinity House to a design by Engineer-in-Chief Sir Thomas Matthews. The first of these lights, albeit slightly different, was erected at East Usk, Wales. The simplicity of these skeletal towers made them ideal for use in a range of locations around the country, where little adaption would be required for different environments. Other lights of this type were constructed at Bamburgh, Peninnis, and Blacknore point.

At the time it Shornemead Lighthouse was built the tower stood firmly on the Kentish shore of the River Thames, not far from Shornemead Fort, however, being on a tidal part of the river, the constant erosion of the banks plagued the site, eventually leaving the lighthouse standing atop just it's foundations out in the river. A long bridge was built to reach the tower from the shore so that it could continue in use, but as the bank eroded further the foundations of the bridge were also undermined. The bridge was extended at least once, but in the early 2000s the foundations had begun to subside and the lighthouse had developed a severe lean to the East, so in 2003 the Port of London Authority took the decision to replace it with a modern light tower, situated slightly up river.

The old lighthouse was cut away at its base and the majority of the structure was removed and put into storage at the Port of London Authority's Denton Wharf depot, whilst the metal ring from that formed the base of the tower, as well as the concrete foundation both remain in place at Shornemead, just off of the Saxon shore way, East of the fort.

In 2021 a team of Port of London Authority engineers overhauled the lighthouse as a symbol and landmark for the PLA depot on Denton Wharf, where it has remained in storage since 2003. The works were unveiled in March 2022, and had included removal of several layers of lead paint, the cutting out and replacement of heavily corroded material, restoration of the grates around the lantern's gallery, polishing of the copper dome roof and vents around the lantern, removal of the access ladder and the cowling around the roof ventilator, as well as a fresh coat of red paint, with gold paint on details such as the porthole window frames. The tower was also moved onto a new concrete pad. Thanks to the efforts of these PLA employees, the future of Shornemead's original lighthouse now looks much brighter. The Port of London Authority depot site is closed to the public, although the structure can be viewed from outside their depot's fence.