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Corbière to move into 21st century with new LED light

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CORBIÈRE Lighthouse – the oldest concrete structure of its kind in the British Isles – could soon take a leap into the 21st century if a planning application to replace its lamp with a powerful LED is approved.

Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (23016311)

Ports of Jersey, the company which manages the facility, says it is now becoming increasingly difficult to source the aluminium halide bulbs used in the navigational aid, with the last units having to be shipped to the Island from the USA.

And, according to a planning application, it is not known how much longer the special bulbs will continue to be available for.

Currently, a two-panel shutter, inside a powerful lens, rotates around the light bulb, causing a flash to be emitted. The shutter’s mechanism sits within a bath of mercury to minimise friction.

If the application is approved, neither the shutter nor the mercury will be needed.

The design notes included within the planning application state: ‘The current mercury bath would be emptied of mercury by specialist contractors conforming to all relevant health and safety practices.

‘The mercury bath is then able to be cleaned and re-shellacked so that it can remain in situ on site.

‘The rotating two-panel shutter would be removed as the LED light source can be flashed. Therefore, the shutter is not required and would impact on the operational capability of the new LED light.

‘The shutter can be kept on site for historical reference.’

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The current light mechanism features a large crystal lens which has been in place since the lighthouse was built in 1873.

Ports of Jersey has said that, due to advances in LED technology, the lens can stay in place and remain as an active and functioning part of the lighthouse.

It is not the first time the facility has been upgraded. When the structure was first built, it relied on a vaporised paraffin lamp but this was replaced by the electric bulbs – still used today – in 1965. In 2016 a decision was taken to decommission the lighthouse’s powerful electric foghorn, following advances in radar, charts and satellite navigation technology.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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