Aerial Photos above and below by Marinas.com (more images are available)
Photo by Malcom Tebbit
The lighthouse is located on Lizard Point at Marsden, but takes its name from Souter Point, which is located a mile to the south so as to avoid confusion with the Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall. It is also known by some and can be seen on some old postcards as the Marsden Lighthouse.
The original plan was to put the lighthouse at Souter Point, but it was felt that Lizard Point offered better visibility, as the cliffs there are higher.
This area was a hazard to shipping. In one year alone, 1860, there were 20 shipwrecks due to the dangerous reefs directly under the water in the surrounding area. This contributed to making this coastline the most dangerous in the country with an average of around 44 shipwrecks per every mile of coastline.
To avoid this and warn of the reefs, it was decided to put a lighthouse here. It was designed by James Douglass and opened in 1871, Douglass also was to go on and build the final 4th version of the Eddystone Lighthouse.
This lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988, but continued to serve as a radio navigation beacon up until 1999 when it was finally closed.
The Light, and Steam Engine
Souter Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built to use electricity and the first to use alternating electric current, the most advanced lighthouse technology of its day. The first to use electricity was the South Foreland Lighthouses in December 1858, this is also owned by the National Trust now.
The 800,000 candle power light was generated using carbon arcs, (the standard filament bulb would come later), and this light could be seen for up to 26 miles. The electricity was generated using a steam engine located in the engine house.
When the lighthouse was first built, the foghorn was a single horn of a clay and iron pipe . This was replaced after a few years by twin horns to the same design, angled so as to spread the noise up and down the coast. By World War II, these had been superseded by twin Rayleigh trumpets. In the early 1960s, these in turn were replaced by the present day diaphone fog horns. A reminder of their predecessors can be seen at the seaward corners of the foghorn station.
The horn produced a five second blast every 30 seconds in poor weather up until 1988, when the lighthouse and foghorn were taken out of service by Trinity House.
Today there are demonstrations of the foghorn, but its not clear when.
An old postcard view of the lighthouse
The lighthouse today
Since 1990 it has been owned by the National Trust and open to the public, the tower, lighthouse's engine room, and keeper's living quarters are on show. One cottage forms this museum and other facilities, while two more of the former lighthouse keepers' cottages are used as National Trust holiday cottages.
Its a climb up the 76 steps to the top for spectacular views, but for those who may not be able to climb it they have CCTV footage that shows views from the top on the ground floor.
The foghorn remains in working order and is sounded on special occasions throughout the year, including the monthly Engine Room Day, which is held at the lighthouse during the summer months, but may have more regular demonstrations now.
The lighthouse is said to be haunted and has even featured on British TV's Most Haunted ghost hunting programme.
To the north, The Leas has two and a half miles of beach, cliff and grassland with soaring seabirds and, to the south, Whitburn Coastal Park provides coastal walks and family trails.
Photo from Geograph
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