The exciting new Portland Bill Lighthouse Visitor Centre has been completed by Trinity House and is ready to welcome its first visitors from 29 March 2015.
Trinity House—the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Islands—has taken on this project with the help of its Maritime Charity to highlight to the public the importance of the sea to Britain today and the fascinating history of its aids to navigation.
The newly-refurbished visitor attraction occupies the ground floor of the former lighthouse keepers’ cottages next to the lighthouse.
Since 1716, a number of lighthouses have exhibited a light from Portland to guide vessels through the hazardous race to Portland and Weymouth as well as along the English Channel. The present lighthouse dates from 1906 and was manned until 1996.
The new visitor centre showcases the history of the Portland Bill Lighthouses and also tell the story of the lives of the Trinity House lighthouse keepers. The exhibition extends to the history and development of Trinity House and its lighthouses in general and the future of satellite-based aids to navigation. Visitors can also learn about the history of Trinity House, which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2014, and its wider modern duties and responsibilities as a major maritime charity and aids to navigation provider.
The exhibition includes a number of artefacts from the Trinity House collection to accompany the graphic displays as well as interactive displays to engage the younger audience.
A visit to the centre can be completed by ascending the Grade II Listed lighthouse to take in the panoramic views of the world famous Jurassic Coast.
The refurbishment was made possible by a grant from the Trinity House Maritime Charity, which seeks to educate mariners and the general public about the importance of safe navigation at sea, as well as provide support and training for mariners.
Trinity House’s Executive Chairman Captain Ian McNaught said of the new visitor centre: “It is great to add another element to the diverse range of platforms we use to engage with the public and inform them about the work that we at Trinity House do and of the importance of the sea to an island nation where over 95% of the goods imported or exported travel by sea. To be able to do that at a location as beautiful as Portland Bill is a very welcome advantage.”