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.
- Sark is the smallest of the Channel Islands, and, despite being Crown Property, is ruled by a Seigneur (feudal lord of manor). It is a mere 3 miles long and 2 miles wide, the north and south parts being almost separate islands joined only by a narrow strip of land. The white, octagonal tower of the lighthouse rises from the flat roofed service rooms and dwellings, the whole complex clinging to the steep face of the cliff which rises high above. The only means of access to the lighthouse is a flight of steps down from the top of the cliff. The buildings, which are made of stone and surrounded by a high retaining wall, are of the sort usually found at onshore stations however Sark is classed as a rock lighthouse. The main function of the station is to guide vessels, passing through the Channel Islands, away from the pinnacle of Blanchard Rock.
- Milford Haven has long been recognised by merchants and shipowners as one of Britain’s finest deep water harbours – it was from here that Henry II led his army into Ireland in 1172. Now large fleets of trawlers and oil tankers gather in the anchorage. At the approach to this famous port lie dangerous reefs just below the surface, almost in mid channel and in two groups through which shipping must pass. One of the greatest dangers lies some 7 miles south-east of St. Ann’s Head, this being the dreaded Crow Rock and Toes lying off Linney Head which have claimed many more vessels than the reefs within the harbour. Today, two usable channels are marked clearly by sets of leading lights, all vital to safe navigation.
- 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.
- Blacknore Point lighthouse was built by Trinity House to assist shipping moving into and out to the docks at Avonmouth. Blacknore Point Lighthouse was built by Trinity House to assist shipping moving into and out to the docks at Avonmouth on the river Severn north-west of Bristol. The Lighthouse was built in 1894 and converted to automatic electric operation in 1941.
- Hurst Point Lighthouse guides vessels through the hazardous western approaches to the Solent, indicating the line of approach through the Needles Channel. Although it is said that a light was shown on Hurst Point as early as 1733, the first Trinity House record relates to a meeting of shipmasters and merchants in 1781 to approve the terms of a formal petition to Trinity House for lights in the neighbourhood of the Isle of Wight. As a result a patent was obtained in January 1782 which stated that “ships and vessels have been lost… and the lives, ships and goods of His Majesty’s subjects as well as the King’s Royal Navy continue to be exposed to the like calamities more especially in the night time and in hard southerly gales”. The patent directed that the lights should be “kept burning in the night season whereby seafaring men and mariners might take notice of and avoid dangers….. and ships and other vessels of war might safely cruise during the night season in the British Channel”. In 1785, negotiations with Tatnell fell through and Trinity House erected to the designs of R. Jupp three lighthouses at the Needles, St. Catherine’s Point and Hurst. The Hurst Tower, sited to the south west of the old Hurst Castle, was lit for the first time on 29th September 1786. In due course, however, shipping found that this light was obscured from certain directions and the Corporation constructed in 1812 an additional and higher light, both to remedy this defect and to give a guiding line to vessels. Extensive additions were made to the castle between 1865 and 1873 necessitating the repositioning of the lights. In 1866, a new lighthouse which was called the Low Light, was built to replace the old Hurst Tower. The new lighthouse consisted of a white circular granite tower with a red lantern. This light was replaced in 1911 with a new Low Lighthouse, a red square metal structure standing on a framework of steel joists attached to the wall of Hurst Castle. The 1812 High Lighthouse was also replaced in 1867 by the 26 metre tower which is still working today. A major modernisation of Hurst Point High Lighthouse was completed in July 1997. Prompted by the growth in volume and diversity of traffic using the Needles Channel and following extensive consultation with the marine community, high intensity projectors were installed on Hurst High Lighthouse. These are exhibited day and night to mark the channel between the Needles and the Shingles Bank.
- 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.
- For nearly 100 years Pendeen Lighthouse has been guiding passing vessels and warning of the dangerous waters around Pendeen Watch. From Cape Cornwall the coast runs NE by E towards the Wra, or Three Stone Oar, off Pendeen. From here the inhospitable shore continues for a further eight miles or so to the Western entrance of St. Ives Bay, the principal feature here being the Gurnards Head, on which many ships have come to grief.
- The rocks upon which the Skerries Lighthouse stands are at the end of a low tract of submerged land North-East of Holyhead which lies directly in the path of many of the major shipping lines from Liverpool and Ireland. The lighthouse gives a guide to passing shipping and a warning of the dangerous rocks.
- Southwold Lighthouse is a coastal mark for passing shipping and guides vessels into Southwold Harbour. The lighthouse is situated near the centre of the seaside resort of Southwold, midway between Lowestoft and Orford, the round white tower stands amongst rows of small houses. Lighthouse has a visitor centre.