Thoughts upon a Clifftop ~ Late 1943

I did this research for my friend the painter Paul Monteagle for his painting ‘Mosquitos over South Foreland Lighthouse’. Link to his website.

Paul Monteagle - Mosquitos over South Foreland Lighthouse
Paul Monteagle – Mosquitos over South Foreland Lighthouse

Many thanks to those who have published the images below. In some cases I have not sought permission to use them. If you own copyright to any of these images and object to their use, please let me know using this site’s contact form and I will remove them. Images of South Foreland Lighthouse belong to the National Trust. Others belong to the excellent St Margaret’s Village Archive site. The 1938 map of St Margaret’s Bay comes from Home chain photographs were found on WikiPedia and Google Earth. The newsreel – Dover (1942) or Dover Front Line – was published to YouTube by John Latter. If you have thoughts about this page and my observations, do contact me. White Cliffs aerial-1_1440x810

I imagine there might have been gun emplacements and defences on the cliff edge? The light house would have been camouflaged? There were four ‘Home Chain’ masts and  they originally had ‘platforms’ on them. The video below  has some interesting shots of Dover. There is evidence of farmers harvesting with horses and making ‘stukes’ I think they were called. Yep: ‘In 1976 and 77 I harvested feed barley with him, using a reaper / binder, making stukes and when dry, round stacks which fed a small threshing machine in the barn.’

From a computer simulation. I can imagine the line of trees being the cliff edge? 1-Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 14.45.08.png

This building is the South Foreland lighthouse. More images From the N.Trust site: A landmark of the White Cliffs, the Victorian lighthouse… This is probably important. I thought I saw some ruins / demolished buildings in Google Earth. This site shows there were other buildings on that stretch of coast: Problem is, were they still there in late 1943? Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 15.42.38 south foreland valley

This is the lighthouse from St Margaret’s, I presume? Do I see two lighthouses? Actually in one postcard I thought I saw windmill sails, which actually would be on the highest point. There were two lighthouses, but I don’t think the central object is one of them. THERE WAS A WINDMILL (See British War Office Ordnance Survey map below) built in 1929 to generate electricity. From WikiPedia: The mill was built for Sir William Bearswell by Holman’s, the Canterbury millwrights. It was built to generate electricity and started generating in June 1929.[2] The mill ceased to generate electricity in 1939, when the dynamo was removed.[3] During the Second World War, the mill was occupied by a special branch of the WRNS.[4]Repairs were done to the mill in 1969 by millwrights Vincent Pargeter and Philip Lennard. These included a new fantail and repairs to the sails.[3] More at this site Views and documents relating to the Upper and Lower South Foreland Lighthouses. The first recorded light here dates to 1367. The first towers were built in 1635. The present towers were built by Trinity House in 1843 at a cost of £4409 4s 3d. The two lights were designed to work together as with the two lights lined up ships avoided the Goodwin Sands The lower light was decommissioned in 1904 after the sands shifted. The Upper lighthouse, generally known since 1904  just as the South Foreland Lighthouse, continued in operation until 1988 when it was closed and sold to the National Trust who have opened it to the public I’ll see if I can find out when the second was demolished (It wasn’t it is at the edge of the cliff see below) . The map below is from a 1938 1:10500 map at It shows two light houses (High and Low) and the engine room. Im not sure if the current South Foreland light is the High or Low. From Wikipedia: Originally there was another lighthouse further down towards the cliff edge to give a bearing on the leading lights principle when a ship was at the point where it could safely turn left into the Downs behind the sands or right to go safely around the Sands. They were both built in the 1840s. However, the Sands shifted over the following years until this bearing became dangerously inaccurate and so the lower light was taken out of service in 1910. It still survives as part of a private garden but is under threat from cliff erosion. The image below is from Bing Maps and shows the position of the second lighthouse very close to the cliff edge. Screen-Shot-2013-08-19-at-20.10.46 This is when Marconi used it. This looks very much like camouflage. Apparently taken in the 1920s. 814f8ed7037d525bacf3df9e181203d8 The map below shows the locations of the High and Low lighthouses, and also the general pattern of fields in 1938 The map below comes from a wonderful resource at This shows a windmill, but not the Lower lighthouse. Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 09.05.42 Screen-Shot-2013-08-19-at-19.39.570 This link to a 1936-8 map shows the field patterns in the map below more clearly Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 08.41.15   Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 08.39.18 This engine house is to the west and comes from the excellent St Margaret’s Village Archive site. engine house Home Chain swingate towers swingatefourmasts ChainHomeRadar-db50916 home-chain01 homechain02