Work to restore two iconic 19th century lighthouses to their former glory has got off to a good start, with the first stage of the renovation process completed on the West Pier structure.

Lead contractors for the project, CRS Facility Management, began work on the Whitehaven lighthouses in August.

So far they have completed the job of sandblasting the layers of rust, dust and sand from the metalwork on the West Pier Lighthouse, as well as stripping the old paint from the masonry.

"We want to retain as much of the original ironwork as we can, but will replace it where necessary,” said Managing Director of CRS Facility Management, Gavin Henry.

"We have already cleaned up small parts of the original metal work which looks absolutely great. It’s quite exciting to imagine how good the lighthouses will look when they are entirely restored and repainted."

Work has also been taking place to prepare the masonry for repainting.

Repainting of the masonry and metalwork is due to begin this week. New light beacons for the lighthouse have also been ordered as well as new bolts to replace corroded bolts on the lighting dome.

Contractors also plan to replace the lighthouse’s roof with new copper sheeting.

The full scope of the restoration works includes iron, timber, glazing and masonry work and it is hoped that both lighthouses will be fully restored by mid-November.

Work is due to begin on the North Pier Lighthouse soon.

CRS Facility Management, based in Lillyhall, is being supported by Bendalls Engineering, in Carlisle, and Shepley Engineering, in Whitehaven.

The two firms will be fabricating and installing any ironwork that needs to be replaced on the lighthouses.

Chief Executive of Whitehaven Harbour Commissioners, John Baker, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see the progress that has been made on the restoration project.

"We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated equipment, time and expertise so far. It will be a great day when we can unveil the fully restored lighthouses as two iconic structures Whitehaven can be truly proud of."

The £144k project is being funded mostly via Sellafield Ltd’s SiX (social impact, multiplied) programme, with additional funding provided by a variety of in-kind donations from Cumbrian people and businesses including CRS Facility Management and Bendalls Engineering.

Lakes College will also be deploying a number of apprentices to carry out the exterior paintwork.