THESE incredible photographs show how workers risked life and limb to create Beachy Head lighthouse.

The structure, which has saved dozens of ships in its time, is now one of the most photographed structures in Sussex.

The set of images, which contain 71 magic lantern slides, are set to go under the hammer on Thursday or Friday.

The lighthouse was designed by Penzance-born engineer Sir Thomas Matthews and it took two years to build.

The lighthouse was finally finished in 1902.

Workers brought over 3,660 tons of Cornish granite which were crafted into perfectly shaped blocks to fit together like a jigsaw.

Men and materials were winched down in a cable car which was erected from the top of the cliffs.

There were also a series of hair-raising ladders that ran all the way up the cliffs of Beachy Head.

Mimi Connell-Lay, from the David Lay Auction House in Penzance, said: “We have found no other archived images of this quality in the public domain, which also indicates that they were probably taken by a private individual.

“In 1900, photography was on the edge of becoming much more widespread, but it was still a gentleman’s pursuit.

“It is most likely that these uniquely rare images were taken by one of the site’s engineers and as such give us a unique, behind the scenes glimpse into the marvellous engineering skills used at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Given the rarity of the slides she said the collection is expected to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000.

She added: “There are many unposed images of the workforce going about all aspects of the build.

“Views taken from the top of the cliffs, in the cable car, down on the sea stage beside the lighthouse and on site, within the foundations.

“There is also a charming image of the engineer’s dog. In addition to the construction slides, the second box also contains 11 distinctly posed images of the new lighthouse’s uniformed keepers, inside and outside their new home, also interior views of oil tanks, the lanterns, revolving gear etc.

“The box also contains four views of the lighthouse at sunset, twilight, night etc, signed by the Eastbourne photographer Ellis Kelsey.2

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