The now disused 19th century Old Low Lighthouse is located along the eastern side of Portland Bill. The lighthouse, including its boundary walls and coastguard house, became Grade II Listed in September 1978.
The High and Low lights were designed as leading lights to guide ships between Portland Race and the Shambles sandbank. The two coal fired lights were first illuminated on 29 September 1716, but finding them poorly maintained, Trinity House took over responsibility in 1752.
Both Portland lighthouses were rebuilt in 1869, and provided with large (first-order) fixed optics designed and built by James Chance. At the turn of the 20th century, Trinity House made plans to build a new lighthouse at Bill Point to replace both current lighthouses. The new lighthouse was completed in 1905, and the original two lighthouses were then auctioned.
The lighthouse went through a series of ownerships before thanks to the the generosity of Miss Helen Brotherton and her family, in 1961, ornithologists were able to make the lighthouse their permanent base when the observatory was officially opened by Sir Peter Scott, as Portland’s Bird Observatory and Field Centre.
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