Photo gallery: Spring clean for Happisburgh Lighthouse ahead of bank holiday open days
- Credit: Archant
Taking time off work to do a spot of spring cleaning may not be everybody's idea of fun.
But when the dusters, mops and elbow grease are all aimed at giving a bit of TLC to Norfolk's iconic Happisburgh Lighthouse, a mundane chore becomes a marvellous day out.
And when, as yesterday, the skies are blue, the clouds fluffy, and the North Sea sparkling, many might think there were few better places in Britain to spend a day than polishing and picnicking around a much-loved building wrapped, like a Where's Wally? onesie, in its famous red and white bands.
The lighthouse volunteers and a team from Aviva were giving the landmark a spruce-up ready to receive visitors this weekend, when it will be open to the public, from 11am to 4pm on Sunday and bank holiday Monday.
None of the crew had a 134ft-long Ken Dodd feather duster to reach the lantern from the ground outside, so instead the team went up and down the building's 112 internal spiral steps polishing handrails, cleaning the optic's windows, dusting shelves and cabinets, and painting the foyer.
Meanwhile outside they filled in potholes, cut back grass verges, washed down signs and painted gates.
A busy open day could see 300 people turn up to explore Britain's only independently-run working lighthouse, according to Joy Tubby, secretary of the Happisburgh Lighthouse Trust.
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And if this weekend's weather is as glorious as promised, visitors brave enough to climb to the lantern can expect to ogle a vista stretching for some 14 miles - from the windfarms of Scroby Sands in the east, to Sheringham Shoal in the west, and also taking in North Sea oil rigs, the Bacton gas plant, Trimingham RAF radar station's 'golf ball', and some 26 churches.
It's a view which never tires lighthouse attendant Peter Martin who lives a field away from the building and keeps a careful eye on its wellbeing, although today's 500wt electric lamp needs little attention compared with the earlier oil and gas-powered versions stretching back to 1791 when the lighthouse first opened.
Happisburgh's light flashes three times every 30 seconds and, even in today's world of satellite navigation, it is still recognised by Trinity House as an aid to navigation, according to Mrs Tubby, whose husband Patrick is chairman of the trust.
The couple, from Acle, are lighthouse fanatics who married in a lighthouse and regularly visit others around the country.
They are among some 20-30 volunteers who are passionate about the setting and atmosphere of Happisburgh Lighthouse.
Others include Aviva staff Caragh Fordyce and her husband Shaun. He grew up in one of the two lighthouse cottages as his late father, Charles, was the last lighthouse keeper before Trinity House decided to close it after a 1987 review.
Villagers rallied round to save the light, formed the trust and managed to push a Private Bill through parliament allowing the trust to become a local lighthouse authority which took over responsibility for the building in 1990.
It was Mrs Fordyce who came up with the idea of yesterday's spring clean. She was joined for the day by nine colleagues from Aviva's risk quality assurance team as part of the company's community investment activities which see employees volunteering to help local good causes. She said: 'It's such an amazing landmark. None of the others had been to Happisburgh before and some had never visited a lighthouse. To be out by the sea, in the sunshine - we couldn't have picked a better day.'
? Cleaning materials for the job were donated by Homebase at Sprowston, and the workforce was fuelled with a picnic lunch by Sainsbury's, Pound Lane, Norwich.
? Happisburgh Lighthouse is open to the public, between 11am-4pm, on the following 2013 dates: May 5-6, May 26-27, July 28, August 4, 11, 18, 25-26, September 1.
Admission is £3 adults, children £1. Children must be over 1m tall. For more information, or to volunteer, ring 01692 650442.