Anvil Point Lighthouse is located on the headland within Durlston Country Park, close to Swanage.
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Around four miles west of Anvil Point is the 12th-century chapel of St Aldhelm’s, on the headland of the same name. The square building surmounted by a stone cross is thought to have displayed a light. It is believed there was some sort of pillar or obelisk, giving the building a distinctive silhouette from the sea in daylight. Had a light been shown, a simple fire would have marked this lofty headland.
Anvil Point Lighthouse is built of local stone and was designed by Trinity House Engineer James Douglass. Completed in 1881, the Minister of Transport officially opened the lighthouse.
The short round tower is 40ft high. Its height avoided the light being frequently shrouded in low clouds which form over this part of the headland. The tower, dwellings and outbuildings are painted white to distinguish it from the green cliffs behind.
To the west, the light gives a clear line from Portland Bill and to the east guides vessels away from the Christchurch Ledge. This guides them clearly into the Solent.
An incandescent paraffin vapour burner initially illuminated the tower. In 1960 the station was extensively modernised and converted from oil to mains electricity. The large original lens was removed and donated to the Science Museum in London and replaced by a smaller optic.
It was modernised again in 1981 when the old fog signal was replaced and automatic equipment was installed. The fog signal has since been discontinued. Shortly afterwards, the station was downgraded to keeper and wife status. Anvil Point Lighthouse was fully automated on 31st May 1991.
The old fog signal was replaced with an automatic signal in 1981 but has since been silenced.
Anvil Point Lighthouse is located within the grounds of Durlston Country Park. It is reached by a narrow service road and lies about a mile southwest of Swanage. The area is a paradise for picnickers, and the Tilly Whim Caves, previously used by smugglers, are just below the lighthouse. The caves are no longer open to the public.