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Set99 Friday, 19 March, 1999, 15:01 GMT
Lighthouse megamove complete
Lighthouse
Too close for comfort
SET99
A lighthouse has been successfully moved away from a crumbling cliff edge to save it from plunging into the sea.

The Belle Tout lighthouse, at Beachy Head, East Sussex, has been pushed more than 17m (50ft) inland.

Sussex
Nature is eating into the coast
Contractors were performing some minor, last-minute adjustments on Friday before securing the 850-tonne granite construction at its new location.

The first part of the operation, carried out by contractors Abbey Pynford, was shown on the BBC One Megalab '99 television programme.

It had been hoped to complete the move in front of millions of TV viewers but progress was much slower than expected.

Hydraulic jacks

The structure was pushed by four large hydraulic jacks along four steel-topped concrete beams, lubricated with grease pumped in under pressure.

The building's new foundations have been constructed in a way that will make future moves much easier to perform.

Lighthouse
The Roberts have paid for the move themselves
Mark Roberts, who owns and lives at the lighthouse with his wife Louise and their two children, expressed his delight.

"It is brilliant to know that the big push is over and we are looking forward to getting back to normal again."

The family bought the lighthouse in December 1996 for about 200,000 when it was perched 15 feet away from the cliff edge.

But recent giant rock falls have eaten away the coastline even faster than they feared.

Grant application

The Roberts have funded the project themselves - they feared the lighthouse would be lost while they waited for a grant application to be processed.

Belle Tout
Belle Tout was run back on four tracks
Tout Belle was a working lighthouse until 1902, when it was replaced by another lighthouse at the foot of the cliffs.

Since then, it has been used as a tea shop, target practice by Canadian troops, the setting for the BBC drama Life and Loves of a She-Devil, and a private home.

Megalab '99 is run by BBC One's Tomorrow's World television programme and the Daily Telegraph as part of the UK's National Science Week. It is an annual event that features the world's largest mass participation experiments.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Mark Roberts: It is an incredible feat of engineering
Video
A race against time
Video
Robert Hall: "It should float like a hovercraft"
Video
Megalab's Craig Doyle reports from the lighthouse
Video
Robert Hall reports on the mammoth operation to move the house
See also:

12 Jan 99 | Science/Nature
13 Jan 99 | Science/Nature
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