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Folkestone Lighthouse

Folkestone Lighthouse was built as part of the outer pier extension between 1897 and 1904.   It replaced an earlier elaborate lighthouse at the end of the pier.

Since Roman times ships have landed on the shore at Folkestone at East Wear Bay.  However, as the shingle beach moved it became less safe for ships to land here.

In 1804 permission was granted to build a harbour. In 1807 an Act of Parliament was passed to provide anchorage for warships during the Napoleonic wars.

William Jessop and a team including Thomas Telford built the west pier in 1810, and another was completed in 1820.

Folkestone Lighthouse

The Folkestone Harbour Company was declared bankrupt in 1842 and the harbour became derelict for a while. The South Eastern Railway Company purchased it to develop Folkestone for steam packets to France. The new railway line reached Folkestone in 1843 and the harbour branch line was constructed soon afterwards.

The resort grew over the next 50 years and became a fashionable coastal town.

As trade increased a pier was built in a southeastern direction between 1861-3. This pier was damaged in a storm in January 1877. It was later rebuilt and extended between 1881 and 1883 into deeper water so that vessels with a deeper draft could use the pier at low water.

In January 1897 the enlarged pier was further extended by Coode, Son and Matthews.  

In 2014 Folkestone Harbour Arm was redeveloped, and many of the original platforms and features remain.

Folkestone Pier

Folkestone Lighthouse is now part of a champagne bar, mainly open at weekends.

On the lighthouse is the inscription   ‘Weather is a Third to Place and Time’.  This is part of a poem by Ian Hamilton Finlay and reminds us how important the weather is to all who work at sea. 

Lighthouse at night

The Varne Lightvessel and Dover Harbour lighthouses can be seen from here.

Folkestone Lighthouse

  • Established: 1860 (first tower)
  • Height of tower: 13 metres
  • Elevation: 14 metres
  • Character: Fl(2) 10s
  • Open as a champagne bar