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Perch Rock - New Brighton, Merseyside

Lighthouse category:  coastal

Position:  53° 26' 39.5"N : 3° 2' 32.5"W

Status: inactive

Date:  1830

Designer:  not known

Tower height:  94 in feet

Construction: round, tapered granite tower with lantern and gallery

Colour scheme: tower mostly white but with unpainted base, lantern red

Focal plane height:  not applicable

Characteristics: not applicable

Foghorn:  none

Google map view:  google map link


This lighthouse, if the number of names it goes (or has gone) under is anything to go by, seems to suffer from a touch of multiple personality disorder.  It is located on the west side of the entrance to the Mersey and marks a reef known as the Black Rock.  The lighthouse is sometimes called Black Rock Lighthouse.  Because of its proximity to the town of New Brighton it was also known, when new, as New Brighton Lighthouse.  However, it was built to replace a "perch" which was, in essence, a wooden tripod on top of which a fire was lit, and it didn't take long before it became widely known by its present name, Perch Rock Lighthouse.  Although John Smeaton was not involved in any way, the design of this light closely mimics his design for the Eddystone Lighthouse of 1759.  The lght was automated in 1925 after which it continued in service until 1973 when it was finally deactivated.  Since then it has had a number of uses including, bizarrely, as a honeymoon suite for newly married couples.  Quite how they were supposed to struggle up that ladder with the bride in her going away outfit has not been satisfactorily explained to me - still, I don't suppose they would be disturbed by too many visitors.  As a project to mark the new millenium the light was partially reactivated, although the light could only be seen from the landward side.  It was used to flash morse messages that spelled out the names of the 176 people lost at sea when the American emigrant ship Ocean Monarch sank.  Ocean Monarch had sailed from Liverpool for the United States in 1848.  Later, it appears that the control of the messages was changed to be interactive and, by contacting the owner, it was possible to have your own message flashed by the light at a date and time of your choice.  This sounds like fun but I can find no evidence that it is still possible to do so.

Access to the site is completely free of problems and, at low tide, it is possible to walk right round the tower - but it pays to keep a very close eye on the tide which can come in pretty quickly around here.  The view from the shore faces almost due north so there is little problem with the light.  In the photograph above, Cunard's RMS Queen Mary 2 can be seen entering the Mersey on her maiden visit to Liverpool in October 2009.  The photograph below gives a wider view of the site and the ACL ship Atlantic Companion can just be seen away out near the Burbo Bank on her way inward for Seaforth.

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