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.
- Nab Tower Lighthouse is responsible for guiding ships of all sizes and nationalities into the deep water channel for Portsmouth and Southampton. The story of its strange origin goes back half a century. In the early part of 1918 attacks by German U-boats on our merchant fleet caused the Admiralty so much anxiety that it was decided to take strong if unorthodox, counter measures and a startling plan was drawn up by “backroom” scientists. This was to sink a line of eight fort like towers (each costing £1 million) across the straits and to link them with steel boom nets, with the idea of closing the English Channel to enemy ships. About 3,000 civilian workmen were brought to a quiet backwater at Shoreham and work began almost at once on two of these towers – each 40 feet in diameter with latticed steelwork surrounding the 90-foot cylindrical steel tower and built on a hollow 80-foot thick concrete base designed to be flooded and sunk in about 20 fathoms. The vast honeycombed concrete base was shaped with pointed bows and stern for easy towing. One tower was completed when the war finished in November, and the other half finished giant was broken up for scrap. After much thought it was decided to use the solitary “white elephant” to replace the old Nab Light Vessel by sinking it at the eastern end of the Spithead approaches, also serving as an invaluable naval defence post, if required.
- Owing its name to the unique howl heard when the wind filled the fissures of the rock, which is four miles south west of Lands End, or possibly too, because of the assumed shape of the rock to a wolf’s head, the station came into Trinity House history with the leasing to a Mr Henry Smith, the right to mark this marine hazard in 1791. Originally intending to build a lighthouse, Mr Smith found the task too daunting and finally constructed a wrought iron mast 6 metres high and 10 centimetres in diameter, complete with six stays and surmounted by a metal model of a wolf on the rock. This daymark, since it was not a lighted beacon, was finally erected in 1795 and was less substantial than had been specified, and although it offered little resistance to the Atlantic, the sea soon carried it away.
- The Langness Lighthouse was established in 1880 at Dreswick Point on the eastern side. The lighthouse has a white tower 19 metres high and incorporates 77 steps to the top of the tower. Langness Lighthouse image: cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Phil Catterall – geograph.org.uk/p/490651
- Heugh Hill Lighthouse along with Guile Point Lighthouse gives a lead for vessels entering Holy Island Harbour. Trinity House assumed responsibility for marking the approach to the harbour on 1 November 1995. Heugh Hill Lighthouse is a framework tower surmounted by a red triangular daymark.
- Beachy Head is sited about 165 metres seawards from the base of the cliffs. It is said that as early as 1670 a light shone to guide passing vessels from the top of the cliffs at Beachy Head, the 90 metres high seaward termination of the Sussex Downs. In 1828 James Walker erected Belle Toute Lighthouse, a 14 metre high circular tower, on the headland. This remained in operation till 1899 when it was abandoned due to being frequently shrouded in mist and threatened with collapse because of recurrent falls of chalk from the cliff. In 1902 under the direction of Sir Thomas Matthews, the Trinity House Engineer-in-Chief, the present lighthouse was brought into service, sited about 165 metres seawards from the base of the cliffs. It took two years to complete and involved building a coffer-dam and a cableway from the top of the cliffs to carry materials down to the site. 3,660 tons of Cornish granite were used in the construction of the tower. More details: www.trinityhouse.co.uk
- For over 200 years the Smalls Lighthouse has been acting as a guide and hazard warning to passing ships. John Phillips, a Welshman, first conceived the idea of setting a lighthouse on the Smalls, one of two tiny clusters of rocks lying close together in the Irish Sea, 21 miles off St. David’s Head in Wales, the highest peak of which projects only 3.5 metres above the highest tides. Although the lighthouse was described in 1801 as a “raft of timber rudely put together” it survived for 80 years. Whiteside’s design of raising a super-structure on piles so that the sea could pass through them with “but little obstruction” has been adopted since for hundreds of sea structures. The present lighthouse was built under the supervision of Trinity House Chief Engineer, James Douglass. Its design was based on Smeaton’s Eddystone tower and it took just two years to build being completed in 1861.
- 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.
- Orfordness Lighthouse, in Suffolk, is situated at the end of a 13 mile spit which runs parallel to the coast. The dangers of this area (swift tides, banks and shoals) although not immediately apparent have long been notorious. On one night alone, in 1627, thirty-two ships were cast up on Orfordness with scarcely a survivor amongst their crews.
- St Catherine’s Lighthouse is situated at Niton Undercliffe, 5 miles from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight and comprises a white octagonal tower with 94 steps up to the lantern. The main light, visible for up to 30 nautical miles in clear weather is the third most powerful light in the Trinity House Service giving a guide to shipping in the Channel as well as vessels approaching the Solent. Lighthouse has a visitor centre.
- New Brighton Lighthouse is also known as Perch Rock Lighthouse due to the name of the outcrop. The lighthouse, decommissioned in 1973, sits at the confluence of the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay. A light has been at this location since the late 1600’s but the construction of the lighthouse began in 1827 At low tide, it is possible to walk with care to the base of the tower.