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Although Charles II gave permission in 1676 for a lighthouse to be erected at Gorleston, Norfolk, it is doubtful if one was built at that time. At a later date on the South Denes the southern part of the sandbank, a light was shown to aid ships approaching the mouth of the harbour. This light was an early type of lighthouse, which was merely an elevated framework surmounted by an open fire. In 1852 a fixed limit was installed on the pier head.
Over time a small piece of land at Pier Marsh, near Brush Bend, was acquired by the Port & Haven Commissioners, who gradually purchased a further seven adjoining pieces of land, so that by 1886 sufficient space was available for an adequate lighthouse to be built. Dudley Arnott, a local architect was instructed to order all necessary equipment for the building based on his design, and a tender for £ 272 was accepted from Thomas George Leggett, a builder.
Harvey George, a local fisherman, fixed the height of lights. His method was to go to sea and, by means of a pole sighted on the Brush Quay with two black balls hoisted thereon, gauged the correct height for the lights, which was 25 feet and 64 feet above high water mark.
On the morning of 14th April 1887 the Port & Haven Commissioners together with Mr. George went to the new lighthouse site and John Penrice, who was both Chairman of the Commissioners and Mayor of Great Yarmouth, laid the first stone.
Sir James Douglass, the Trinity House consulting engineer, inspected the site, gave his approval and recommended that gas should be used instead of oil. Shortly afterwards the Gorleston & Southtown Gas Co made the connection. In 1957 the Brush Bend lighthouse was extensively repaired and refurbished and regularly repainted and re-pointed.
The 69 feet high circular red brick tower shows two lights, a fixed red light of 66 feet elevation with a range of six miles, and also a white occulting light of 23 feet elevation with a range of ten miles.
The other tidal light on the South Pier, which was to be aligned with the new Brush Bend light, was also built during 1887. It was designed by Dudley Arnott and built by J.F.W. Bray of Yarmouth. It was 20 feet high, stood at the end of the pier, and was constructed of wood and iron. A red light was shown while the flood was running into the Haven, with green on the ebb until the water had fallen to one foot on the tide gauge. The lights were not exhibited when the entrance was dangerous. In March 1955 the light was removed, the pier was closed to the public, demolished, and replaced by the present pier and light.
The two photos on the right are of the old pier light.