Lundy South

51° 09.723' N 004° 39.351' W (not for navigation purposes)


Image of Lundy South

Lundy South Lighthouse

History

At the mouth of the Bristol Channel lies the Island of Lundy. It is a rugged mass of dark granite, surrounded by reefs of sharp rocks that make an approach to the island difficult to the unknowing sailor. Measuring about 3½ miles in length by ¾ mile in width the island has some 20 miles of dangerous coastline.

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. The South Lighthouse is a compact station with a white circular tower. It was automated and converted to solar power in 1994. The North Lighthouse is set on a narrow plateau, on the cliffs large colonies of guillemots, razor bills and herring gulls make their nests whilst on the rocks below Atlantic seals take refuge. The light was produced from a 75mm petroleum vapour burner until 1971 when electricity was installed. The North Station was automated in 1985 and modernised in 1991 when it was converted to solar power with a new proprietary lantern manufactured by Orga installed on the disused fog signal building.

Both Lundy Lighthouses are now monitored and controlled via telemetry link from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre at Harwich in Essex.

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