Century-old lighthouse placed on wheels to move it away from eroding coastline

The Rubjerg Knude lighthouse was just 20ft from a cliff face.

A 120-year-old lighthouse has been put on wheels and rails and moved back from the eroding North Sea coastline in north-western Denmark.

The now-defunct Rubjerg Knude lighthouse was moved 300ft inland, said Kjeld Pedersen, the mason in charge of the move, which took less than the expected 10 hours.

Concrete will now be poured around the base of the 1,000-ton structure.

The Rubjerg Knude lighthouse is moved
The Rubjerg Knude lighthouse is moved (Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AP)

The lighthouse is 76ft tall and sits on a cliff 200ft above sea level.

When it first came into service in 1900, it was roughly 650ft from the shore, but steady erosion meant that, by the time the move started on Tuesday morning, it was only about 20ft away.

The environment ministry spent five million kroner (£576,000) to save the building, which officials say would otherwise have to have been dismantled.

Environment minister Lea Wermelin called the white, square lighthouse “a national treasure”.

Local mayor Arne Boelt and the town of Hjoerring also chipped in to foot the bill.

The lighthouse edges towards its new home
The lighthouse edges towards its new home (Hans Ravnr/Ritzau Scanpix/AP)

The lighthouse ceased operating in 1968 and was briefly turned into a museum, including an exhibit about the structure’s struggle against sand drift.

In the end, it was closed because of shifting sands which slowly buried the two buildings next to the lighthouse, but it still has more than 250,000 visitors a year.

The move was broadcast live on major Danish news outlets.

In 2008, a nearby church was dismantled to prevent it from falling into the sea. The Romanesque Maarup Church, built on a cliff around 1250, was picked for scenes in Babette’s Feast, which in 1987 became the first Danish film to win the Oscar for best foreign language film.