A big thank to David Foxcroft for making a model of the iconic local lighthouse landmark to display in RG Gwinnells Harwich window. David is pictured with Jo in our team.
The real lighthouse, commissioned by Trinity House in 1862 and completed in 1863, served to guide ships towards Harwich harbour. One of a pair, their different heights enabled two lights to be aligned on approach.
They replaced two late 18th century lighthouses at Harwich which had become unreliable due to shifting sand bars around the mouth of the Stour estuary. A comprehensive pattern of marker buoys in the harbour approach rendered the new lights obsolete in 1917.
The Dovercourt Lighthouses are believed to a unique example of this form of prefabricated structure, employing numerous technological advances of the time in terms of the materials and construction methods required for such an exposed location.
Foremost among these is the early use of screw pile foundations, by which helix or screw bladed iron sections were driven deep into the soft ground in order to provide solid footings for the attached legs. The success of this operation is evident in the lack of any appreciable subsidence to this day.
As well as marking a milestone in the history of lighthouse design and in the sequence of navigation aids developed for this important deep water harbour, the Dovercourt Lights, with their memorable design, are a well-regarded landscape feature on our coastline.
Both the lighthouses fell into disrepair and were only restored in 1988.