Introduction

   History

   Pictures

   Coastal Erosion

   The Future

   Location

   Contact
 

What was the Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust?

The Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust was formed to acquire the old lighthouse at Beachy Head to turn it into a visitor centre, tourist attraction, bed and breakfast and hotel.

More about the Trust

The Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust was a a not-for-profit organisation limited by guarantee with charitable objects and aims.  It had been formed with the sole aim of purchasing and maintaining the Belle Toute Lighthouse that is situated on the cliffs at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne in the south of England. 
(more information on the location)

Registered charity

The Trust had registered its application to the Charities Commission although when a third party placed an offer on the lighthouse late in 2007 we placed the application on hold.  This was done to prevent any unnecessary additional expenditure as our costs were beginning to rise.

Why Belle Toute?

The lighthouse is a prominent and famous British landmark and Grade II listed building that has a colourful and interesting history.  It is part of our national heritage and we firmly believe that it should be opened to the public and to maintain it for future generations of visitors to enjoy.

Why trust ownership?

In private hands, Belle Toute is a diminishing investment as the land is being lost to the sea by a certain amount each year.  Trust ownership ensures that all of the profits from its business are re-invested back into the property to ensure that it is maintained and renovated.  In addition to which, it will provide the money to pay for the costs when the lighthouse requires moving again in the future.

What were the Trusts plans for Belle Toute?

To open this fascinating building to the public to allow them to look around and find out about the buildings rich history and how it was moved.  Visitors can enjoy the relaxing ambience and marvel at the views from the lantern room whilst enjoying a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.  In addition we would have been working with other organisations to provide information on such topics as the environment and coastal erosion.  We would have shown footage of when the lighthouse was moved as well as provide bed and breakfast accommodation to guests. 

We would have welcomed school trips, special interest groups, community events and much more.  We had many ideas for fund-raising activities all of which would have brought in vital money to the preservation of the lighthouse.

Why was this good for commerce and employment in the area?

We would have been working closely with local business to provide services that the lighthouse needs such as builders, architects, accountants, solicitors, gardeners etc.  We would have also needed to recruit staff to serve our visitors and guests.  We also would have worked closely with our neighbours for community driven events as well as the National Trust and other charitable organisations.

How much did we need?

Belle Toute originally came onto the market with a figure of 895,000 although it was finally reduced to 595,000 when the previous owners couldn't sell it.

Once we acquired the lighthouse a further estimated 1.1 million would have been required to carry out the necessary renovation works to the fabric of the building, its grounds and resolving problems inside, such as repairing the sunken flooring, damp, re-writing, plumbing, decorating etc. 

We did have an itemised list of repairs and maintenance that needed to be carried out although we felt it would have been inappropriate to reveal this to the public with the previous owners trying to sell it. It was very off-putting to say the least.

Donations

The trust were accepting donations via Worldpay and PayPal.  It was also possible to donate in principle. 

Whilst we did receive some money it wasn't quite enough to cover our expenditure and the rest of the money was provided by Rob Wassell, so strong was his belief in this venture. 

Due to the huge sums of money involved donation in principle was a much more successful idea and it was at the beginning of 2008 that a number of people began to come forward.  The greatest interest was running it as some kind of joint venture which in our eyes would have worked.

We were effectively pipped at the post as the new owners placed a cash offer before we were able to secure one last investor.

We came close, so very close, but not quite close enough.

Private ownership

Whilst Belle Toute is now in private ownership once again, there is good reason to be cheerful. The new owners are intending to open it to the public as a hotel.

They are implementing a number of our ideas and we are really pleased and wish them luck and success with their venture.

The great thing is that the original Trusts aim of enabling people to visit the lighthouse will finally happen. Although not under Trust ownership, the new owners are renovating Belle Toute with tender loving care and great attention to detail and we can't wait to see how things pan out.

Winding up the trust

As the trust could no longer realise its aims and due to the ongoing expenditure of keeping it running it was wound up in May 2008. 

Rob Wassell still has involvement with the lighthouse through the new owners and will watch over their progress with interest.

This website will continue to be maintained as a mark of respect for one of our nations treasures and an information resource.

A great big thank you

The Trust would not have got as far as it did without the help and support of a great many organisations and people and we would like to recognise each and every one of then in our list of thanks.

 

 

Belle Toute looking upwards from the west side of the lighthouse

 

 
Belle Toute Lighthouse Tower
 

The Belle Toute Lighthouse Information Resource by Rob Wassell        All information copyright        Website by RAW Website Design