What was the Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation
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.
information on the location)
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
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
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
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,
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
The trust were accepting donations via Worldpay and
PayPal. It was also possible to donate in
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
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
We were effectively pipped at the post as the new owners
placed a cash offer before we were able to secure one
We came close, so very close, but not quite close
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
They are implementing a number of our ideas and we are
really pleased and wish them luck and success with their
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
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.