Find the nearest Lighthouses
Lighthouses may now be automated but they still provide a critically important service to shipping. Our Lighthouse category brings all Coast Radar’s listings related to lighthouses together, where most are positioned also in stunning and often rugged coastal landscapes.
Finding the best things to see and do on a day out with your family or friends is easy – simply explore the lighthouse links below, hit the jump to my location button or use the search bar to plan your next UK and Ireland activity.
- A light was first exhibited at North Foreland, Broadstairs in 1499, but the first real lighthouse was built by Sir John Meldrum in 1636. The lighthouse consisted of a two storey octagonal tower made of timber, lath and plaster with an iron coal burning grate on top. This tower was destroyed by fire in 1683. A temporary measure of a single candle in a lantern hoisted on a pole proved, not surprisingly, ineffective and the present structure was built in 1691; originally the tower was 12 metres tall constructed of brick, stone and flint. In 1698 the lighthouse is recorded as using 100 tons of coal a year. North Foreland Lighthouse came into the hands of the Trustees of Greenwich Hospital in 1719, they used the surplus from the light dues for the upkeep of the hospital for the benefit of seamen. They enclosed the fire in a glazed lantern in 1719 but this was removed in 1730 after complaints from shipping. In 1793 a further two storeys were added to the tower and the coal fire was replaced by 18 oil lamps. Trinity House purchased the lighthouse in 1832. In 1890 a separate room known as the lantern house, was built on to the top of the tower to accommodate the light.
- Bardsey Lighthouse stands on the southerly tip of the island and gives a guide to vessels in passage through St George’s Channel and the Irish Sea. The lighthouse tower is unusual in being square in plan. It is striped in red and white horizontal bands. The building was erected by Trinity House in 1821 at a cost of £5,470 12s 6d plus a further £2,950 16s 7d for the lantern. Leaving Strumble Head behind, vessels enter Cardigan Bay, where in the 1890s a lightship was stationed which is no longer in use. The next headland encountered is the Lleyn Peninsula of Caernavonshire with the small island of Bardsey separated from the mainland by the Bardsey Sound. The island, some 2 miles long by ½ mile wide, is surrounded by outcrops of sharp rocks. In the sixth century Bardsey was a refuge for the Celts who sought sanctuary from the bloodthirsty Saxons. Only the ruins of the Abbey of St. Mary remain, but the sanctity of its patron, St Dolmers, who died there in 612 made the Abbey famous all over Britain. The remains of many venerable monks were conveyed to the island to be buried, and acres of graves record tales of pious and laborious lives.
- Portland Bill and Chesil Beach are the graveyards of many vessels that failed to reach Weymouth or Portland Roads. The Portland Race is caused by the meeting of the tides between the Bill and the Shambles sandbank about 3 miles SE. Strong currents break the sea so fiercely that from the shore a continuous disturbance can be seen. Portland Bill Lighthouse guides vessels heading for Portland and Weymouth through these hazardous waters as well as acting as a waymark for ships navigating the English Channel. The Shambles sandbank is marked by a red sector light. Lighthouse has a visitor centre.
- North Ronaldsay Lighthouse was built in 1852 just 43 years after the Old Beacon was decommissioned. The lighthouse lies at the north of the island at Point of Sinsoss and is Britain’s tallest land-based lighthouse tower at 43 metres (141 ft). The lighthouse is a brick cylindrical tower that is unpainted with two white stripes. The lighthouse visitor centre includes a cafe, gift shop, bike hire, lighthouse exhibition, island life exhibition and the wool mill.
- This lighthouse was completed in 1971 and replaced a light vessel which had marked the Royal Sovereign Shoal since 1875. It is of concrete construction and was built in two sections on the beach at Newhaven. The base and vertical pillar section were floated into position and sunk on to a leveled area of the sea bed and the upper cabin section and superstructure were then floated over the pillar section. The pillar had an inner telescopic section which, when attached to the cabin, was jacked up 13 metres and locked into position. The underside of the cabin is well above the maximum wave height and the navigation light is 28 metres above sea level.
- The Old Beacon is a lighthouse located at Dennis Head, in the northeast of North Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands. The lighthouse was built in 1789 by Thomas Smith and he was helped by his stepson Robert Stevenson, the lighthouse is an unpainted stone cylindrical tower at a height of 21 metres (69 ft). In 1809 it was decided that the North Ronaldsay light was no longer required. The round stone tower was retained as a sea-mark, with the original beacon chamber at the top replaced by a vaulted roof, capped by a ball finial. The stone spiral staircase which once led to the beacon was demolished and the original keepers’ houses, although roofless but largely complete, survive below the tower. Just 43 years later in 1852, a new lighthouse was built just to the north.North Ronaldsay does have a current lighthouse.
- Now just an empty shell not used since it was closed down October 1986. Spurn Head has had many lighthouses over the years with the first around 1427. The present abandoned lighthouse was built from 1893 TO 1895. It had the light removed and it was used as a store for explosives and later as a water tower. You can see the round perimeter wall surrounding the old keepers cottages and the base of the old lighthouse which had to be demolished.
- For over 200 years the Mumbles Lighthouse has guided vessels along the coast and into Swansea Bay, past the hazards of the Mixon Shoal ½ mile to the South. This unmanned lighthouse is built on the outer of two islands, known as Mumbles Head, lying about 500 yards to the E.S.E. of the mainland known as Mumbles, Swansea. The station is accessible by foot at certain states of the tide or by boat at high water.
- About 1722, the owners of ships passing certain dangerous “Rocks called the Casketts” off Alderney in the Channel Islands, applied to Thomas Le Cocq, the proprietor of the Rocks, to build a lighthouse and offered him ½d. per ton when vessels passed the light. Le Cocq approached Trinity House and a patent was obtained on 3rd June, 1723. Trinity House decided that a light of particular character to distinguish it from those on the opposite shores of England and France was needed. Three separate lights in the form of a horizontal triangle were proposed, and three towers containing closed fires, i.e. coal fires burning in glazed lanterns were erected. These three lights called, St Peter, St Thomas and Dungeon were first exhibited on 30th October, 1724. The lease granted to Le Cocq by Trinity House lasted for 61 years at a rent of £50 per annum. The three Casquets lights reverted to Trinity House (in 1785) and were converted to metal reflectors and Argand lamps on 25th November, 1790; a revolving apparatus was fitted to each tower at the Casquets in 1818, and the three towers were raised by 30ft in 1854. The Casquets Lighthouse and rocks have been the scene of many shipping disasters, among them the SS STELLA in 1899 with a loss of 112 lives and the British Man O’War VICTORY in 1744 with a complement of 1,100. The three original towers at the Casquets are still in use, although only the North West Tower still exhibits a light. The East Tower contains fog-signal equipment and a helideck is mounted on the third tower.
- Needles Lighthouse is set in the western approaches to the Isle of Wight, the Needles form a narrow chalky peninsula which rises from jagged rocks to 120m cliffs. These rocks have always been a hazard to ships making their way up the Solent to Portsmouth and Southampton Water.