Here are all the lighthouses I’ve come across on my coastal walk. Click on the picture to find out more about each one.
For those who are really into their lighthouses (and that doesn’t really include me) there is a comprehensive list here. Many sites are not very complete. The BBC’s Countryfile programme has a guide to the more interesting ones, Trinity House has their own site which is also surprisingly not complete (that’s a bit worrying… have they lost some?), but of course Wikipedia has a complete list.
Right, here are the ones I’ve encountered, in reverse time order…
Hestan Island Lighthouse
A lighthouse was originally built on Hestan Island, in Auchencairn Bay in Dumfries and Galloway, on the eastern side of the island by Alan Stevenson (the eldest son of Robert Stevenson) in 1850, which ran on bottled gas, and had a lighthouse keeper.
The modern lighthouse is automated, powered by solar panels. It might look ugly, but is still more attractive than the 18th century Southerness Lighthouse (see below).
A blog entry about visiting it is here.
Southerness, surprisingly, is the first lighthouse north of Lancashire, and is by far the ugliest I’ve come across so far. Who knew that brutalist architecture goes back as far as 1749!
The second oldest lighthouse in Scotland, it was built to help ships travelling up the Solway Firth to the River Nith and Dumfries.
It was greatly improved by the famous lighthouse designer Robert Stevenson in 1805, and decommissioned in 1936.
Pharos Lighthouse is a 28m tall Runcorn red sandstone lighthouse situated in Fleetwood, and built in 1840. Unusually for a functioning lighthouse, it stands in the middle of a residential street.
It’s officially called the ‘Upper Lighthouse’, but has been known as the ‘Pharos’ since its construction, after the ancient lighthouse Pharos of Alexandria, to which it bears no resemblance whatsoever… apart from being tall with a light on top, which as lighthouses go is not a very distinguishing feature. But I guess Pharos sounds a lot more exotic than Fleetwood so what the hell.
Fleetwood Beach Lighthouse
The Beach Lighthouse (also known as the Lower Light) is a 13m tall sandstone lighthouse in Fleetwood. The Lower Light stands on the sea front and was built with its counterpart, the Pharos Lighthouse, to provide a navigational guide to shipping entering the Wyre estuary. Together the lights provide a leading line when the Pharos Light is directly above that of the Lower Light.
Plover Scar Lighthouse
The Plover Scar Lighthouse was built in 1847, as the lower light of a pair of leading lights. In March 2016, the lighthouse was badly damaged when it was struck by a passing ship, which was navigating its way at night to Glasson Docks. The upper section of stone wall was nudged a foot off-centre and metal strengthening bands around the lighthouse snapped.
The fact that a lighthouse got rammed by a ship in the night perhaps suggests it wasn’t doing its job particularly well, but it was decided to stick with it anyway, and repairs were made, which involved partially dismantling the stone tower. Over 200 stone blocks were taken to a worksite on the beach and numbered so that they could be reassembled in place. Repair works were completed in May 2017.
A fascinating 1948 recording of the lighthouse keeper is available online here.
Heysham South Pier Lighthouse
This squat little lighthouse was built in 1904 and is situated at the end of a long walk along the seaward side of Heysham Nuclear Power Station at the end of the south pier – the walk is a dead end so don’t bother going to see it unless you’re really into lighthouses. I didn’t know that.
It has a green light as it is on the starboard side when entering the port. It is a cylindrical cast-iron tower with a lantern and gallery. Despite its dilapidated appearance, it is still active, and is operated by Peel Ports Heysham.
Heysham Near Naze Tower
A bit of a mystery, this one. A number of sources say that this tower closest to the road is the oldest, built at some point between 1896 and 1904 as part of the construction of the harbour at Heysham. This is reinforced by Ordnance Survey maps from 1892-5 showing no lighthouse at Near Naze and a 1915 map showing a “North Lighthouse”.
Then you have conflicting explanations with some sources saying the light on the south pier in Heysham replacing the 1904 Near Naze light and others stating that the south pier light was also built in 1904. Some say that the tower and south pier lights were range lights, and elsewhere it claims that the other range light has now been demolished. There is even the suggestion that the tower next to the road was not a lighthouse at all as it was marked on an Ordnance Survey map as an anemometer station. What the hell, it looks a bit like a lighthouse and that’s good enough for me.
There’s a little stubby remains of a tower close by that I didn’t notice, which may also have been a lighthouse. Click on the picture for that.
Morecambe jetty lighthouse
There’s not much information about this one. It’s situated on the stone jetty in Morecambe. It sits next to what was a small railway station which took passengers to and from the steamers to Ireland that used to dock here. The station building was built in the early 1850s, with the octagonal lighthouse added shortly afterwards.
Rampside Leading Light
Rampside Leading Light, also known as “The Needle”, is a navigation beacon located in the Rampside area of Barrow-in-Furness. Built in 1875, it is the only surviving example of 13 such beacons built around Barrow during the late 19th century to aid vessels into the town’s port. It stands 20 metres tall and is constructed from red and yellow bricks. It’s not a particularly attractive thing.
Hodbarrow Old Lighthouse
The old lighthouse was built in the 1870s and is situated on a rise overlooking the sea and the Duddon Estuary. It is also known as Hodbarrow Beacon. The lighthouse was built to aid ships taking iron ore from the harbour of the Hodbarrow mine. The mine was opened in 1856 and ceased operations in 1968. This lighthouse represents one of the last remaining structures of the mine.
Hodbarrow New Lighthouse
Built in 1905 to replace the old lighthouse (see above). It was inactive between 1949 and 2003 but is now privately maintained and active. Prefabricated by Cochrane and Co., this lighthouse was built and operated privately by the Hodbarrow Mining Company to guide ships serving its iron mines in the Haverigg area.
After it fell into disrepair, in 2003 it received £20,000 of Heritage Lottery Fund money to restore it to its former glory. The restoration project was run by the Haverigg Lighthouse Committee with the support of Haverigg Primary School.
It’s now looking a bit worse for wear again, so perhaps could do with another generation of primary schoolchildren to look after it.
St Bees Lighthouse
The first lighthouse here was built in 1718 by Thomas Lutwige, and was 9 metres tall, with a platform at the top for burning coal, and it was the last lighthouse in the Britain to be lit that way, thankfully, since it burnt down in 1822 when tragically the fumes from the fire killed his wife and five children.
The new lighthouse was built in 1866, 17 metres tall, and can be seen 24 nautical miles out to sea. A Foghorn was added in 1913 at the top of the cliff.
Whitehaven West Pier Lighthouse
Not much seems to be known about this one, except it was completed in 1839, cost £150,000, is 14m high, and was only built under protest by the harbour commission after so many shipmasters complained. They’re still resisting all calls to repaint it since then.
Whitehaven Old New Quay Lighthouse
Not much known about this one it seems, except it was built in 1742.
Whitehaven North Pier Lighthouse
Completed in 1841 when the North Pier’s construction was completed in the form we know it today (In times past the North Pier had been built in a differing direction to its existing direction, and extended over the centuries). The navigation light displayed from it – a vertical pole atop the truncated tower – is two fixed red lights with a range of nine miles.
Workington South Pier Light
This is surely one of the ugliest lighthouses around the coast. Its white light flashes every 5 seconds. I didn’t even realise it was a lighthouse until nearly a year after I walked past it!
Maryport Old Lighthouse
A bit cheeky, calling this a lighthouse. It’s barely more than a fancy streetlight, but it does bear that name, so makes it into this collection.
It was built in 1846, and is 36 feet high, and is the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the country. Still not that impressive though.
Maryport New Lighthouse
Also called the Maryport South Pier lighthouse, it’s pretty uninspiring. Located at the far end of the South Pier it is the current operational lighthouse. The Old Lighthouse is situated at the entrance to the pier.
Lees Scar Lighthouse, Silloth
Located on a shallow outcrop of hard clay (scaur or scar) to the south west of Silloth Docks, it was commissioned in 1841 as part of the suite of navigational aids for vessels trading to and from Annan and Port Carlisle.
It’s had some exciting history, with one keeper drowning while attempting to get to it, and another getting drunk and burning it down.
East Cote Lighthouse, Silloth
The East Cote lighthouse was established in 1841, as a navigational aid for shipping proceeding to and from the quays at Annan and Port Carlisle, shining a light down the best navigable channel.
That’s all very well, but the best navigable channel changes often on the Solway, so they reportedly placed it on a short trackway so that it could be moved whenever the best channel moved.
It started off with a red light, but now shines a fixed green light down the Silloth approach channel.