A BLAST from the past can be heard again on Portland.

The foghorn at Portland Bill, which used to warn ships off the coast, has been restored to its former glory.

It will now be sounded every Sunday morning as an added attraction on the island but will only be used in foggy conditions if the automated lighthouse is out of operation.

As part of the heritage of Trinity House, the Diaphone Type F fog signal, which is now one of the only two air operated signals in the country, has been restored, along with the signal at the Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall.

A unique feature of Portland Bill Lighthouse, which was completed in 1905 and became operational in January of the following year, is that the old foghorn emits a 'mighty throat clearance' of three seconds' duration every 30 seconds, but this will only be heard if the automatic signal is not in operation.

The old foghorn stopped issuing its warning to mariners in 1996 when the lighthouse became fully automatic, and it was superseded by the new automatic electronic fog signal which it can beat as far as sound and range are concerned.

Portland Bill Lighthouse is now administered and operated on behalf of Trinity House by Larry Walker, the station's former principal for 21 years, and he has been largely instrumental in the recommissioning of the old fog signal.

He said: "The old signal must not be regarded as an aid to navigation and its use for a short time each Sunday morning is a way to let people hear just what an old fog signal sounded like.

"Last year, Trinity House carried out a feasibility study of restoring it and when it was concluded that its reinstatement was possible, work commenced earlier this year."

Mr Walker revealed the various reactions made by tourists to the sound over the 21 years that he was principal at the lighthouse.

Some described it as thundering, ear-shattering and resounding," he said, "while others said it made the earth move, caused body vibrations, loosened ear wax and, for some timorous souls, it was known for the sudden blast to cause embarrassing problems."

The lighthouse continues to be the island's most popular tourist attraction and so far this year the Lighthouse Visitor Centre has attracted more than 25,000 people.

Many enjoy the experience of looking around and climbing the tower accompanied by Mr Walker's assistants, tour guides David and Carol Houlden.

David, a member of the Portland Amateur Radio Club (PARC) said that during the recent National Lighthouse and Lightship Sunday when PARC broadcast from the lighthouse, the blast of the fog signal went over the airwaves to many parts of the world.

"When we were in radio contact with St Catherine's Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, one of the operators told me that the blast was the best noise he had heard for years."

People have many birthday ambitions and local woman Mrs Margaret Ross-Sands was able to fulfil hers when she was allowed to press the button to start the boomtime rolling on Sunday.

Portland Bill Lighthouse is open to the public from 11am-5pm Sunday to Friday until the end of September.

The exception this year is Saturday, September 6, when it will open and all proceeds will go to the RNLI.

From October until the end of March it can be opened on special occasions at the discretion of Mr Walker, who will continue every Sunday of the year with his blast from the past.