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Godrevy Island - Near Gwithian, Cornwall

Lighthouse category:  hazard

Position:  50° 14' 32.9"N : 5° 24' 0.8"W

Status: active

Date:  1859

Designer:  James Walker

Tower height:  86 feet

Construction: octagonal rubble stone tower with lantern and gallery

Colour scheme: white

Focal plane height:  120 feet

Characteristics: white flash every 10 seconds.  Red flashes shown to the north west over dangerous rocks

Foghorn:  none

Google map view:  google map link

This is the final light in this small selection of lighthouses from Cornwall.  Godrevy Island is located on the east side of St Ives Bay about three and a half miles east of St Ives.  On a calm day, when you stand on the mainland here and look over at the island with its lighthouse, it seems as though you could almost wade over the narrow channel between the light and the shore.  However, this lighthouse, from it's inception had an evil reputation for being one of the hardest rock stations to relieve - although it is situated on the north side of the Cornish peninsula there is little to give it shelter from the Atlantic gales and its proximity to the coast means that it is also subject to extremely turbulent seas caused by tidal backwash from the shore.  The light was designed to provide warning of a dangerous reef known as The Stones that extends for some distance from the site of the lighthouse towards St Ives.  This reef had claimed many victims over the years but, on 30 November 1854 the loss of the steamer Nile with all hands, both passengers and crew, finally exerted sufficient pressure on Trinity House for them to build a light on the reef.  The lighthouse is built more or less in the centre of Godrevy Island, the largest and highest of the rocks that make up The Stones reef.  The tower is constructed of rubblestone bedded in mortar and cement rendered.  At one stage a plan was drawn up to link the island to the mainland using an aerial ropeway, but this plan didn't come to fruition and the difficulty of relieving the station meant that Godrevy was one of the earliest of the Trinity House lighthouses to be automated.  The lighthouse here has also attained a certain celebrity status as it was the model for Virginia Wolff's novel "The Lighthouse" that was published in 1927.  Wolff spent many holidays at Talland House in St Ives and would have been very familiar with the lighthouse which provided the inspiration for her novel.  Four years after this photograph was taken a planning application was granted that would have permitted the building of an apartment building that would have blocked the view of the lighthouse from the shore.  At around the same time Trinity House announced that the light was to be deactivated.  Fortunately both plans failed.  The land on which the apartments were to be built was bought by a private owner who donated it to a local theatre company.  The theatre company subsequently put the land up for sale but with the stipulation that the buyer must maintain public access to the lighthouse.  Trinity House, in the face of considerable public pressure, also backed down on their plan to deactivate the light and agreed to maintain it at a reduced power.  There are several good viewpoints along the South West Coastal Path that runs through the area and, subject to decent weather, the light should be good more or less throughout the day given the northward facing view.

The photo below gives a slightly wider view of the island.

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