Lowestoft has the oldest established lighthouse station in Great Britain. It has been serving mariners for almost 400 years, as the Trinity Brethren assumed responsibility for the Lowestoft light in 1609. In all these years the only nights of darkness were during the war years when the light was only displayed for brief times on Admiralty orders to help military craft.
It was called the ‘High Light’ as there was also a ‘Low Light’ situated on the Denes. Samuel Pepys was responsible for building a ‘High Light’ in 1676 – the year he was elected to the Mastership of Trinity House. In 1870 following experiments with electric lighting it was decided that Lowestoft High Light should be electrified but the existing tower, which was 200 years old, was not considered strong enough for the new equipment. As a result work began in 1872 on building a replacement. Before the tower was completed however paraffin oil became available and as it proved to be both economical and efficient it was adopted for use in the new lighthouse instead of the proposed electricity and the lighthouse itself was completed in 1874. Paraffin oil was replaced in 1881 with coal gas and the High Light did not convert to electricity until July 1936. It became fully automated in 1974, when the last lighthouse keeper left.