An early fifties view

By John Quinton

These photos, taken by my father in the early fifties, show the lighthouse, the signal post with its semaphore signal for controlling the entry and exit of vessels, and the mast with its cone. I think the cones were hoisted as storm warnings - perhaps someone could confirm. I would also be interested to know when the signal post was removed.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'WEST PIER LIGHTHOUSE AND SIGNAL STATION' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'WEST PIER LIGHTHOUSE AND SIGNAL STATION' page
Photo:The signal in use on the Bluebell Railway (see comment below)

The signal in use on the Bluebell Railway (see comment below)

Brian Hymas - Bluebell Railway

This page was added by John Quinton on 25/07/2009.
Comments about this page

The weather vane and the lighting conductor seen on top of the lighthouse in the first photo are both exhibited at Newhaven Local & Maritime Museum as is the Storm cone seen in the second photo. The cone was hoisted to warn of an impending storm and depending on the wind direction, for a North Wind the cone was hoisted point upwards and for a South wind the cone was hoisted point downwards.

By Richard Beckett
On 25/07/2009

Received by email:

I am a member of the Bluebell Railway volunteering with the Signal and Telecommunications Department and have recently been refurbishing the signals at Sheffield Park. As a part of the work I researched the background of the existing signalling infrastructure.

From your website I note that John Quinton is interested in knowing the date that the signal that was positioned adjacent to the West Pier lighthouse was removed.

The top of this signal post is still in use at Sheffield Park but somewhat shorter (photo attached). Although we cannot be certain when it was removed from Newhaven Harbour it arrived on the Bluebell around 1965, see story based on article from a retired Bluebell volunteer.

It had started life as a maritime signal on the end of the eastern (??) breakwater at Newhaven Harbour adjacent to the lighthouse. Because the Newhaven Harbour Company was effectively controlled by the LBSCR it was fitted with LBSC pattern signal fittings and was an amazing 50 feet tall, it is believed to have been erected when the harbour was improved in the late 1870’s. Not sure when the signal was removed but a Bluebell member became aware that the post was lying around in the old loco yard, it had been purchased by the then Resident Engineer at Newhaven, a Mr Martin. When he was approached he confirmed he no longer had any plans to use the post himself, and very generously offered it free of charge. We therefore acquired it for the cost of hiring a lorry. It lingered for a while on the (railway) dock at Horsted Keynes after which it was trollied by hand and gravity to its present site.

After trimming to size the base was charred in a bonfire a technique used to prevent rot. A stepped pit was dug by hand; the post rolled over the excavation and pulled up by ropes, no namby pamby road rail plant in those days!

The shortened post (27 feet) was used by the BB from late 1960s up to December 2017 when because of rot I shortened it again to a more sensible 15 feet and repositioned it.  

I hope this is of some interest.


Brian Hymas

Bluebell Railway Volunteer

By Andy Gilbert
On 04/02/2018

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