It’s hard to visit the coastline without noticing the lighthouses of Cornwall, but why are they there?
Lighthouses originated by the means to raise fire off the ground for visibility. In the 1800’s we saw the design emerging similar to that we see today, acting as a visible warning for hazards to ships.
Candles or oil lamps were initially used in the first lighthouses in the late 1700’s, until the first electrically powered light was installed in 1875. Lighthouse keepers were needed to look after the maintenance of the light and the house itself, and were first seen in 1730, right up until as recently as 2006 in Sugarloaf Point, Australia.
These days most of the lighthouses of Cornwall are looked after by Trinity House, rather than individual lighthouse keepers posted out to sea, or on the headlands.
This lighthouse was built on the headland at Pendeen in 1900, and standing at 17m tall was not too obvious from the land. The keepers built a wall surrounding the garden so that they could grow food to sustain themselves. Pendeen Lighthouse was automated in 1995.
This is the lighthouse that you can see straight out from Land’s End, it was built in 1791, with the current building established in 1875. The lighthouse became automated in the 1980’s and stands 35m tall on the cluster of rocks seen just off the land.
Originally built in 1619, the first lighthouse was demolished in 1630 as the shipowners weren’t eager to help pay for the upkeep. The lighthouse that stands today was built in 1751 and consists of two towers, both of which were lit until 1903. Today it’s home to the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre where you can climb to the top of the tower, and learn all about the history.
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
Recognised as the worlds smallest island with a building on it, the lighthouse first appeared in 1847, but the one that can be seen today was built in 1887.
A fairly new lighthouse in comparison to the other Cornish lighthouses, Tater Du was built in 1965 and designed to be automatic from the beginning. There was a shipwreck of a Spanish ship in 1963 which sparked the building near Porthcurno.
Found just on the rocky outcrop of the Falmouth Harbour entrance this lighthouse was built in 1835. The Fal estuary is one of the largest natural harbours in the world therefore demanding a lighthouse. St Anthony lighthouse has been made famous by appearing on the TV show Fraggle Rock.
Of all the lighthouses of Cornwall this one has got to be our favourite, and perhaps the most iconic. The SS Nile was wrecked on the rocks of Godrevy Head in 1854, prompting the building of Godrevy Lighthouse in the late 1850’s. The lighthouse can be seen across St. Ives Bay and was made famous in Virginia Woolfes novel ‘To the Lighthouse’.
Wolf Rock lighthouse was completed in 1869 and is a single rock between the mainland and the Isles of Scilly. It is found just over 20 miles East of St. Mary’s. The lighthouse was the first in the world to have a helicopter landing pad built on its roof.
Peninnis, St Marys
Found on Peninnis Head on St. Mary’s this lighthouse was built in 1911. Peninnis replaced the lighthouse found in the centre of St. Agnes which was founded in the 1600’s.
Trevose Head, near Padstow
The lighthouse at Trevose head was completed in 1847, and at that time was the only lighthouse between Longships and Lundy. At one point there were two lights on this location, but only the first built still remains.
Round Island, Tresco
The island is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its importance as a breeding ground for many seabirds. The lighthouse was built in 1887, and automated in 1987, and the building itself is now Grade 2 listed.
Here’s a map to show you exactly where the lighthouses of Cornwall are found…