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Longships Lighthouse - Off Landsend, Cornwall

The Longships Lighthouse is one of the great rock lighthouses of the British Isles of which a significant group are located in the south west of the country.  The tower stands on Carn Bras, the highest of a series of offshore rocks known as the Longstones or the Longships.  The original tower on the site was built in 1795 to the design of the Trinity House architect, Samuel Wyatt.  However, at 79 feet in height it was too low for the rough seas that frequently batter the site and the lantern was often obscured by spray and breaking waves.  Therefore, in 1875, the present lighthouse was built alongside the old tower to the design of James Douglass.  Nothing now remains of the original tower but, unusually, it was never demolished - it simply fell into the sea shortly after the new light entered service.  The original lighting equipment consisted of a pressurised vapour lamp with an incandescent mantle but, in 1967, this was replaced by an electrically powered light, the power coming from a diesel powered generator.  In 2005, the light was converted to solar power with an stand-by diesel generator for emergencies.  Other major changes occurred in 1974 when the domed roof of the lantern was replaced by a helipad and in 1988 when the station was fully automated.  The light has an intensity of 45,000 candelas and is visible for 18 nautical miles.  The light shows white to seaward and the red sectors to either side warn vessels that are straying too close to Cape Cornwall to the north or Gwenapp Head to the south south-east.  Clearly there is no easy access to this site - it is possible that the odd boat trip may be run from some of the smaller harbours along the south coast of Cornwall but I haven't been able to confirm this.  This particular photo is a highly cropped scan of a slide taken from the cliffs near Landsend using a 300mm telephoto on a Minolta Dynax 7000 (if memory serves!).

The photo below shows a more distant (and more realistic) view of the Longships Light.  The prominent rock formation in the foreground is know as "The Armed Kight".


Lighthouse category:  hazard

Position:  50° 4' 0.1"N : 5° 43' 59.9"W

Status: active

Date:  1875

Designer:  James Douglass

Tower height:  115 feet

Construction: round granite tower containing keepers' living quarters and with lantern, gallery and helipad

Colour scheme: tower unpainted grey granite, lantern white

Focal plane height:  72 feet

Characteristics: isophase light, 5 seconds on and 5 seconds off, display red or white depending on direction.

Foghorn:  blast every 10 seconds

Google map view:  google map link

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