Construction of Royal Sovereign light on East Side beach 1969/71

By John Hills

This lighthouse was completed in 1971 and replaced a light vessel which had marked the Royal Sovereign Shoal in the English Channel south of Eastbourne, the first light marking this area was installed in 1875.

The new light building was made of a concrete construction and built in two sections on the Eastside beach at Newhaven. The base and vertical pillar section were floated into position and sunk on to a levelled area of the sea bed and the upper cabin section and superstructure were then floated over the pillar section.

The pillar had an inner telescopic section which, when attached to the cabin, was jacked up to about 13 metres and locked into position. The underside of the cabin is well above the maximum wave height and the navigation light is 28 metres above sea level.

The cabin section contained accommodation for the keepers who manned the lighthouse before its automation in 1994. The flat upper deck of the cabin section provides a helicopter landing platform.

Photo:Royal Sovereign construction site

Royal Sovereign construction site

M. W. Hills

This page was added by John Hills on 10/03/2008.
Comments about this page

I remember watching it take shape. I've got some pix of the Christiani & Nielsen tug Chrianie somewhere, and also the work vessel Amanda. Both those would regularly work between Newhaven and the Royal Sovereign site. I'll try to find them.

By Andy Gilbert
On 11/03/2008

Well fancy seeing these pictures, as a lad I remember playing on the Eastside Beach while this project was under construction. I did not know then that years later (Early 1990's that I would be assisting with Trinity House maintainance of it). While working for Newhaven Marina Co Ltd, we undertook the monthly maintainance visits to both the Royal Sovereign Light Tower, and the Beachy Head Light House both of which were attended by 'Trinitas' a Lochin 33 motor launch maintained by Newhaven Marina to carry out these regular checks following automation of both Lighthouse facilities.  This occurred after Trinity House tendered out these checks following an in-house restructuring etc. I have some very good pictures taken from the Beachy Head Light house which I took on one such visit! The Royal Sovereign Light Tower was automated at this time but prior to this it had been manned by a regular crew of watchkeepers.

By Chris Young
On 14/12/2008

I remember Trintas well with her 2 Sabre engines for I also worked aboard her with Jack Shinn, (former lifeboatman) and a lot of the time with David Bourne, when we used to supply and service the Royal Sovereign, Beachy Head and the Greenwich Lanby buoy. I was even fortunate enough on one occasion to be lifted up onto the Royal Sovereign by basket. Boy... what a view. .

I am writing my memoirs so I need a picture of Trinitras, has anyone got one they could let me have please?.

By Mick Cutler
On 17/02/2009

I recall both the original Trinitas and the later twin engined Trinitas 2. Myself and a great friend (Alec Paddy) also had the privilage of working with that wonderful man Jack Shinn, running men, supplies and all sorts of stuff out to the Royal Sovereign, to Beachy Head and occasionally out to the Lamby Bouy - this was probably around 79-80 if I recall correctly; Those were fantsastic summers.

By Anthony Pink
On 21/06/2009

Anthony Pink, Alec Paddy, Adam Poulton and myself spent many happy hours together mooching around the marina, fishing for mullet between the pontoons, helping Jack Shinn on the Trinitas, annoying the heck out of Dave Bourne, chatting with Rosie in the office and playing around with the Seacadet boats. Trips out to Beachy Head and the Royal Sovereign with supplies and crew changes, with Jack teaching me hands on navigation and boat handling, very happy days indeed.

By Rob Patten
On 03/07/2010

I went out many times as a crewman with David Bourne on "Trinitas "  I have many happy memories of those days, also have a watercolour picture of "Trinitas" in Newhaven Marina, wish those times could return.

By Alan Mildenhall
On 05/06/2013

The link below is a British Pathe newsreel clip with sound, covering the moving of the tower from East side beach dated 1969:-

Light Tower - British Pathé (

P.S. Don't forget to click the two arrows in the top right corner of preview picture to enable full screen view.

By John Hills
On 12/11/2021

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