The 175-feet-tall, 19th century structure, situated inside the High Court complex, will be renovated by PWD at a cost of Rs. 74 lakh

The city’s oldest lighthouse, situated inside the Madras High Court complex, will soon turn into a public watchtower.

The heritage conservation committee (HCC) will give its nod for massive restoration of the British-era structure to be undertaken by the public works department (PWD).

The proposal for restoration of the Indo-Saracenic structure was discussed threadbare at the meeting of the HCC held last week. PWD will submit a report on technical aspects of the project this week following which the HCC is expected to give its nod for the restoration. The work will begin in a month.

“The committee has asked PWD to avoid modifications to the original structure. The work will be monitored by the committee,” said a court official.

As per the proposal, the 175-feet-tall lighthouse will be renovated at a cost of Rs. 74 lakh, from HCC’s conservation fund for heritage structures in the city.

The 19{+t}{+h} century structure is in a dilapidated state with weeds and creepers coming out of the rooftop and other parts of the lighthouse.

A large number of original stones from the structure have been damaged due to continuous weathering and other natural forces, over the years.

Structural experts of PWD propose to rebuild the broken portions with blocks of stones retrieved from the lighthouse. Specialised equipment will be installed on its rooftop to withstand thunder and lighting.

For plastering work, lime mortar will be used instead of cement, in keeping with the building techniques used by the British.

“The restoration plan is a welcome move and will enhance the image of the High Court,” said P. Sanjay Gandhi, a senior advocate.

The lighthouse and its premises are no-entry zones for visitors, at present, as they are very close to the entry and exit gates for judges.

Once the restoration is complete, steps will be taken to obtain the High Court’s permission to allow visitors atop the lighthouse for a grand view of the Bay of Bengal. Apart from restoration, landscaping, installation of information boards, seating arrangements and binoculars will be taken up.

Prior to allowing visitors, the security of the judges and safety of the visitors will be taken into account as the High Court premises is highly guarded. Work on the lighthouse in the High Court complex began in 1838, and in 1844, the new structure which consisted of Argand lamps and reflectors started functioning.

The equipment was later shifted to the new lighthouse situated atop the dome of the High Court building in 1894.