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South Foreland Lighthouse, Dover

4.6
#2 of 11 in Historic Sites in Dover
Lighthouse · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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South Foreland Lighthouse is a Victorian lighthouse on the South Foreland in St. Margaret's Bay, Dover, Kent, England, used to warn ships approaching the nearby Goodwin Sands. It went out of service in 1988 and is currently owned by the National Trust. Another lighthouse had previously stood on the site since at least 1730 and during most of this time it was manned by the Knott family of lighthouse keepers.
South Foreland was the first lighthouse to use an electric light. This was in 1859. By 1875 the lighthouse was using carbon arc lamps powered by a steam-driven magneto.
It was used by Guglielmo Marconi during his work on radio waves, receiving the first ship-to-shore message from the East Goodwin lightship. The system was used over the following winter to avert several shipwrecks. In 1899, the first international transmission was made between the lighthouse and Wimereux in France.

Originally, there was another lighthouse further down towards the cliff edge to give a bearing on the leading lights principle when a ship was at the point where it could safely turn left into the Downs behind the sands or right to go safely around the Sands. They were both built in the 1840s. However, the Sands shifted over the following years until this bearing became dangerously inaccurate and so the lower light was taken out of service in 1910. It still survives as part of a private garden but is under threat from cliff erosion.
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South Foreland Lighthouse reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
505 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • A second visit but with our so well informed guide leaving us with further knowledge of the Goodwin Sands, lighthouse history and technology. An amazing place so well worth the visit. 
    A second visit but with our so well informed guide leaving us with further knowledge of the Goodwin Sands, lighthouse history and technology. An amazing place so well worth the visit.  more »
  • Been here a few times over the years, took the other half this time. A nice location for a walk even without visiting the lighthouse. Can't go into the cellar anymore. Cost is OK- National Trust is... 
    Been here a few times over the years, took the other half this time. A nice location for a walk even without visiting the lighthouse. Can't go into the cellar anymore. Cost is OK- National Trust is...  more »
Google
  • It's a very long walk but definitely worth it!! Many paths to walk on, depending if you're looking for something adventurous or peaceful, with so many photo opportunities. If you walk all the way to the lighthouse (closes 5pm), you can have a break to relax and have some tea and snacks, and see the view from the top of the lighthouse.
  • Get some good hiking shoes because it's a good haul to get to it along the beautiful White Cliffs Of Dover. Was closed the day we went to go up inside, but it was still pretty charming. Mrs. Knotts tea room is located.on the backside where you can grab a nice spot of tea and some cakes/sandwiches for a bit of a picnic. They even provide free blankets you can use for the occasion. They have a toilets, so it's a handy stop as you make the turn around back. Very clean and well maintain. Worth the trek to get here and take in the view.

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