Lighthouse keeper's demise lifts market in eccentric homes: Trinity House is selling some remote but highly distinctive properties by the coast. Oliver Gillie reports

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The Independent Online
A LIGHTHOUSE, a fog signal station and keepers' houses and cottages are being sold by Trinity House, the august body that has organised navigation in British waters for more than a century. After three decades of automation, few lighthouses require keepers living near by and so interesting properties in remote locations are coming on to the market.

At Dungeness, Kent, three keepers' houses, known as the Roundhouse, form a perfect circle with three entrances. The upper floor, which opens at the centre on to a light well, provides a panoramic view of the Channel on one side and of Dungeness nuclear power station on the other. Nevertheless, the Regency style of the Roundhouse and the two cottages adjoining provides a certain grandeur.

David Parry, Cluttons' agent for the property, said: 'It is the sort of place a person will either love or hate. It has good fishing and boating and a golf course near by.'

Although the Roundhouse consists of two houses, each with three bedrooms, and another with one bedroom, it is expected to sell for only pounds 50,000 to pounds 100,000. The extensive foreshore at Dungeness is an unusual wildlife habitat with special desert plants growing in fields of gravel. But the sea front is built up, with hundreds of bungalows, shacks and rancho- style dwellings that will not appeal to someone seeking Regency elegance or rural escape.

Burnham High Lighthouse, just one-and-a-half miles from the centre of Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, was built in 1830 and might be converted to a dwelling for an eccentric who enjoyed climbing ladders. A staircase leads from the lobby to the first floor but the next six floors are reached by ladder and the rooms get progressively smaller, starting with a diameter of 15ft and going down to 12ft. At the top is a lantern room with prism fittings and a trap door leading on to viewing platform.

Penlee fog signal station, near Millbrook, Cornwall, offers more realistic prospects for use as a holiday hideout. Built in 1900, it consists of three flats located on cliffs overlooking south Devon, the English Channel, and the western entrance to Plymouth Sound. The only problem is that Trinity House is keeping the control room - and the fog signal. Finally, two lighthouse keepers' cottages at Lynmouth Foreland in north Devon, are next to land owned by the National Trust and probably offer a better escape for the exhausted executive.

The main agents for the sale, Drivers Jonas, have found it impossible to value the properties because they are so unusual and nothing similar has been sold recently, so there is no reserve price. Offers, which should be made by tender, must be in by noon today.

(Photographs omitted)