Nab Tower

Nab Tower is located in the Solent, off the coast of the Isle of Wight and marks the Nab Rock in the deep water approach to the eastern side of the Solent.  It was established in 1920 and reused from a First World War defence tower. 

Following the First World War, the admiralty planned to build eight steel towers forming a barrier by attaching nets between them. Out of the eight, only Nab Tower was completed, although another was partially completed after the war.

Nab Tower was established to replace the Nab Lightvessel on the eastern end of the Spithead approaches. The new tower guided vessels into Southampton and Portsmouth and the tower could be re-used as a defence structure if required.

1954 British Pathe film showing a trip to Nab Lighthouse

The tower was designed by G Menzies and consisted of a 90ft steel tower surrounded by a lattice steel structure.  It was constructed at Shoreham and mounted on a hollow concrete base.  It was towed out from the harbour to its new position near the Nab Lightvessel on 13th September 1920. Once in position, the base was flooded with seawater and sunk in position, landing with a three-degree list.

On top of the structure, a lantern was mounted, displaying a red light, and white lights were mounted on turrets to either side.

In 1983 an acetylene-powered light was positioned on a small red octagonal tower, and as a result, the lighthouse became automated.

A helipad and solar panels were added, and in 1995 the station was converted to solar power operation.  The new optic displayed a flashing white light.

In November 1999, the Dole American, a cargo vessel carrying bananas and pineapples, hit the Nab Tower.  The vessel was badly damaged and ran aground.  The base of the tower suffered some damage and was repaired in 2001.

Nab Tower
Nab Tower before its exterior and lantern removal
Photo by Christine Johnstone, CC BY-SA 2.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

In 2013 Trinity House undertook a major refurbishment of the tower, which was now showing signs of corrosion.  Part of the external structure was removed, including the external steel surrounds.  A new layer of concrete was added to the outside, and the tower’s height was reduced from 27 to 17 metres.  A new LED light was established with a 12-mile range.  A new fog signal was also installed.

ALK Lighthouse Museum
The former Nab Tower lantern at Hurst Castle

Following refurbishment, the red lantern was removed and is now on display outside the ALK Lighthouse Museum at Hurst Castle.

The lighthouse was featured in the 1951 Hammer Horror film The Dark Light.

Nab Tower is visible from Bembridge or by boat.

Established: 1920
Light Character: Fl W 10 s
Light Range: 12 miles
Elevation: 17 metres
Automated: 1983