Head in the Clouds

Lundy Island Old Light

The Old Light on Lundy Island was Britain’s highest lighthouse in the nineteenth century, being located at the highest point of the island. An unfortunate consequence of this was that it was regularly obscured from sea level by cloud and fog. The Old Light had to be abandoned and replaced by much lower lighthouses at the northern and southern extremities of the island.

Today, the Old Light is owned by the Landmark Trust and rented out as a rather splendid holiday home. The stairs and light room are still open to visitors, however.

Looking up...

With thanks to Trinity House

‘In 1819 Trinity House proposed the erection of a lighthouse on the rocky summit of Chapel Hill. The builder was Joseph Nelson, the engineer Daniel Alexander and the Superintendent of Works, James Turnbull. The granite tower was 96 feet high with the keepers houses adjoining, the cost being £10,276 19s.11d. Two lights were shown from the tower; the lower was a fixed white light; the upper was a white quick flashing light, every 60 seconds. This was an innovation in lighthouse optics. However, the light revolved so quickly that no period of darkness was detectable between the flashes so in effect this also appeared as a fixed light. They were shown from elevations of 508′ and 538′ respectively and from 5 miles away the two lights merged into one.

It was this appearance of being a fixed light that contributed to a disaster on the evening of November 1828. The ship La Jeune Emma travelling from Martinique to Cherbourg 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.

The lighthouse was abandoned in 1897 due to the continual complaints that the light was completely lost in fog and two new lighthouses were built on the North and South extremities of the island.’

Lundy Island Old Light

Lundy Island Old Light

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