Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Approaching Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Isles of Scilly. There is nothing past this, but America.

Whilst the Stevenson family lit up remote shores of Scotland, construction in England and Wales was dominated by Trinity House Chief Engineers James Walker and James Douglass. When James Walker replaced the 1776 lighthouse on Pembrokeshire’s Smalls Rock (constructed using wooden and cast iron piles), he protected his granite tower from the waves with a stepped base. Walker adopted the idea of iron piles when he built on Bishop Rock, a tiny outcrop on the fringes of the Isles of Scilly. This proved a failure, being washed away by a storm in 1850. He recommenced work, completing a 37m tower made of conventional granite in 1858. Over two decades of use, the tower suffered wave damage and developed cracks. James Douglass had been responsible for replacing Smeaton’s Tower on the Eddystone reef in 1882; he now recommended encasing Bishop Rock Lighthouse inside a 49m tower, with the innovation of a massive (11.6m high and 12.5m thick) stone drum to protect the base. The work was completed in 1887 by his son William (the Douglass’ were another lighthouse ‘dynasty’) and the tower still stands in defiance of the Atlantic’s full force, arguably the crowning glory of the lighthouse age.

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