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Monday, 18 January 2016



The Lighthouse of Alexandria, built around 280 BC, was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Damaged by earthquakes in 956 and 1303 it was abandoned after another earthquake in 1323.

The Eddystone Rocks were a major shipwreck hazard for mariners sailing through the English Channel. The first lighthouse built there was an octagonal wooden structure, anchored by twelve iron stanchions secured in the rock, and was built by Henry Winstanley in the late 17th century. The light was lit on November 14, 1698. Winstanley's lighthouse was the first tower in the world to have been fully exposed to the open sea.

Winstanley's lighthouse, as modified in 1699

The first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed in the Great Storm of 1703 on November 27, 1703.

The cost of construction and five years' maintenance of the first Eddystone Lighthouse totaled £7,814 7s.6d, during which time dues totaling £4,721 19s.3d had been collected at one penny per ton from passing vessels.

A second Eddystone Lighthouse was completed in 1709. This proved more durable, surviving nearly fifty years. However, on the night of December 2, 1755, the top of the lantern caught fire, probably through a spark from one of the candles used to illuminate the light and the tower burnt down.

Drawing of the second Eddystone Lighthouse,

The civil engineer, John Smeaton, rebuilt the lighthouse in 1759. His tower represented a major step forward in the design of lighthouses and remained in use until 1877.

The first lighthouse in America was authorized for construction by the Massachusetts legislature at Little Brewster Island, Massachusetts on July 23, 1715. The Boston Light was ready for use by mid-September of the following year.

 A tonnage tax of 1 penny per ton charged to vessels moving in or out of Boston Harbor, paid for maintaining the light.

1729 illustration  of Boston Light

The first keeper of Boston Light was George Worthylake,. He was paid £50 a year to keep the beacon lit from sundown to sunrise. Worthylake drowned, along with his wife and daughter, when returning to the island in 1718.

The stone structure weathered 60 years of lightning strikes and gale-force winds before the British Army blew up the tower and completely destroyed it during the American Revolutionary War.

The current lighthouse dates from 1783, is the second oldest working lighthouse in the United States (after Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey)

The Bell Rock lighthouse off the east coast of Scotland is reputedly the oldest offshore lighthouse in the world. So expertly was it built that no structural changes have been made since it was built in 1811.

A lighthouse 346 ft above sea level was built in 1831 by Robert Stevenson, the grandfather of Treasure island author Robert Louis Stevenson, on Dunnet Head, Caithness, the most northerly point on British mainland.

Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse

A female heroine was created on September 7, 1838, when lighthouse keeper’s daughter Grace Darling rowed out to sea and saved nine people from a shipwreck on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, NE England.

The current Cape Lookout, North Carolina, lighthouse was lit for the first time on November 1, 1859. Its first-order Fresnel lens can be seen for about 19 miles (31 km) in good conditions.

The keeper of the Christiana Light was 105 when he died in 1862, the oldest known lighthouse keeper in United States history.

In 1881 an ice floe forced the Sharp's Island Lighthouse off its foundations, after which it floated nearly five miles down the Chesapeake—with its keepers still inside—until it ran aground, allowing the men to escape unharmed.

On October 22, 1707, four Royal Navy ships ran aground off the Scilly Isles killing more than 1,500 sailors and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. The Bishop Rock Lighthouse, which might have averted the disaster, was finally built in 1887.

18th-century engraving of the disaster

Bishop Rock is the world’s smallest island with a building on it. Since 1976 it has even had a helipad at the top of the lighthouse.

Bishop Rock Lighthouse (2005) By Richard Knights, CC BY-SA 2.0, $3

From 1886 to 1902 the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was officially a lighthouse. An electric light in its torch was visible for 24 miles.

A relief crew arrived at the Flannan Isles Lighthouse of Scotland on December 26, 1909 and discovered that the previous crew had disappeared without a trace.

In 1912 Gustaf Dalen won a Nobel Prize for an invention making unmanned lighthouses possible. Despite being blinded in an accident in 1912 Dalen went on to invent the Aga cooker.

Finland's Lågskär island lighthouse was constructed in 1920. It introduced a rotating gas lighting device, which was the first of its kind in the world.

Lågskär Lighthouse and outbuildings (2009). By Islander - Own work, CC BY 3.0, $3


Russia has hundreds of nuclear powered lighthouses and beacons along the Northern Shipping Route.

Source Daily Express 

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