Responsibility for the lighthouse—a landfall and waypoint for vessels passing through the Strait—was vested in Trinity House by an Act of Parliament of 1838 and under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 the Corporation became the General Lighthouse Authority for Gibraltar.
Europa Point Lighthouse was first lit in 1841 and initially a fixed light was exhibited by a single wick oil lamp augmented by a dioptric fixed lens and catoptric mirrors. In 1864 an improved light was exhibited, a Chance Brothers four wick burner with new lens and a red arc incorporated to cover the Pearl Rock, a dangerous group of pinnacle rocks on the western side of the entrance to Gibraltar Bay. In 1875 the light was improved again with a four wick mineral oil burner installed.
In 1894 the power of the light was increased with a Douglass eight wick burner and the character changed from fixed to occulting. A new lantern was fitted with the power of the new light being 35,000 candelas. An explosive fog signal was also installed at this time with a character of two reports in quick succession every five minutes. In 1905 a new light source was installed, a triple incandescent mantle burner. This was replaced in 1923 by the Hood petroleum vapour burner with a single mantle.
Extensive structural alterations were carried out from 1954 to 1956 and the optical apparatus modernised by the introduction of an electrically operated lighting system. A revolving lens system of much greater power was installed for the main light and a subsidiary light was installed below the main optic to give a fixed red light over the Pearl Rock in addition to the red sector of the main light that already marked this hazard. The height of the tower was raised by six feet in order to accommodate the subsidiary light apparatus over the service room.
Automation of Europa Point Lighthouse was completed in February 1994. The existing optic was retained and fitted with a three position lampchanger. The air fog signal was replaced by an electric system, a single directional 500 Hz emitter stack mounted on the lantern gallery.
The lighthouse was re-engineered in 2016, along with the discontinuation of the Fog Signal and Subsidiary Light. The rotating optic was removed and replaced with two LED lanterns, positioned one above the other to provide a Main Light and a Standby Light arrangement, both achieving the Navigational requirements.
Other improvements to the station included the installation of lightning protection, increased battery capacity to maintain the station's aids to navigation in the event of a power failure and renewal of all electrical systems. The historical optic is now on display at the University of Gibraltar.
The lighthouse’s aids to navigation and other systems are monitored and controlled from Trinity House’s Planning Centre in Harwich, Essex.