Rising high above the whole island is the Old Beacon Lighthouse. A light had been planned for this spot since the foundation was laid in 1787. Finally built in 1819 by Joseph Nelson at a cost of £36000 it was first used on 21st February 1820. For a while it held the prestigious title of being the tallest lighthouse in the country.
However the ambition of Daniel Alexander, the architect was beaten by Mother Nature. Shortly after it was built the fogs and mists that plague this coastline proved to be better than the lighthouse. A lighthouse that is useless as soon as the fog descends is soon obsolete! In 1829 a lower light was introduced in an attempt to beat the fog, however this was not ideal. This was propelled by the wrecking of the La Jeune Emma travelling from Martinique to Cherbourg in 1828. She arrived in Carmarthen Bay in thick fog and mistook the Lundy lights for the fixed light of Ushant, and went onto the rocks. Of the 19 people on board, 13 were lost including a niece of the Empress Josephine.
In a further attempt to beat the fog, a fog warning battery was built in 1861 but this was still not ideal and so in 1897 the North and South Lighthouses were built which remain in use today. This meant the Old Lighthouse was no longer needed and was switched off permanently.
It still dominates the landscape on a clear day and can be seen from most locations on the island as well as during the approach. On a clear day it is hard to believe that this magnificent structure failed in its purpose.
Engineer: Joseph Nelson and Daniel Alexander
Established: 1787 first lit 1820
Character: Quick flashing white light every 60seconds but light moved quickly so appeared fixed
Height: 154m above sea level
Status: Decomissioned in 1897
Operator: Landmark Trust
Visiting the Old Beacon
The Old Beacon is reached by boat from Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast. These run daily throughout the summer months and full details are available on the Landmark Trust website. From the Quay the Old Beacon is about 45minutes walk. It is open to explore and the views from the deckchairs at the top are spectacular. The keeps cottages are now holiday cottages.
Photography at the Old Beacon
The lighthouse can be seen from around the island and their are endless views across the island. Inside the lighthouse there are numerous little corners to explore and photograph. There is no opening times or charges so you can visit as the weather and light change.
U.K. Lighthouse Challenge
This lighthouse is part of my U.K. lighthouse challenge.