Strumble Head Lighthouse stands imposingly on Ynysmeicl (St. Michael's Island), an islet to the west of Fishguard, separated from the mainland by a very narrow gap through which the sea boils and froths in stormy weather.
The station was built for the greater safety of sea traffic between Ireland and Fishguard Harbour, located behind cliffs and a breakwater three miles to the east. The light also formed a link with South Bishop light, 18 miles to the south-west. This stretch of coast is very dangerous, and some 60 vessels are known to have been lost along it in the 19th Century alone.
The original revolving lens system weighed 4½ tons, supported in a bath of mercury to reduce friction. A massive clockwork mechanism rotated it, driven by a quarter-ton weight which, suspended on a cable, dropped gradually down a cylinder running from top to bottom through the tower and had to be re-wound every 12 hours. The optical system was replaced by more compact equipment when Strumble Head lighthouse was fully electrified in 1965.
Despite the footbridge to the mainland across the narrow sound, Ynsymeicl's isolation and steep slopes set building problems typical of more remote rock towers. Building material and regular supplies were swung across by jackstay cable, between the winches near the cliff-top on the mainland and beside the lighthouse. The handrail of the footbridge and the steps to it also had a special purpose, as the pipeline to carry oil into the tower basement.
Strumble Head Lighthouse was converted to unmanned automatic operation in 1980. The lighthouse is now monitored and controlled from Trinity House’s Planning Centre in Harwich, Essex.