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Lundy Island (Old Light) Lighthouse

Lundy Island , Devon

Location Guide

Photo by Fiona Avis

In the extremes of the Bristol Channel, off Devon, is the Island of Lundy, 3.5 miles long by 0.75 miles wide and said to have 20 miles of dangerous coastline. It is a rugged mass of dark granite, surrounded by reefs of sharp rocks that make an approach to the island difficult for those unfamiliar with it.

In 1819 Trinity House decided to build a lighthouse on the rocky summit of Chapel Hill. The granite tower was 96ft high with the keepers houses connected to it, it cost 10,276 19s.11d. The builder was Joseph Nelson, the engineer Daniel Alexander and the Superintendent of Works, James Turnbull.

Two lights were shown from the tower, the lower was a fixed white light and the upper was a white quick flashing light, every 60 seconds. This was at the time an innovation in lighthouse optics. However, the light revolved very quickly and no period of darkness was detectable between the flashes by most people, so in effect this also appeared as a fixed light. The steady light was from an elevation of 508ft and the flashing at 538ft, being not greatly separated, resulted in the lights from a distance of 5 miles or more appearing to be a single light.

Mistaking this for a single light was said to have contributed a shipping disaster on an evening in November 1828. The ship La Jeune Emma travelling from Martinique to Cherbourg, arrived in Carmarthen Bay in thick fog, mistook the Lundy lights for the fixed light of Ushant, and went onto the rocks. Of the 19 people on board, 13 were lost including a niece of the Empress Josephine.

Continual complaints that the light was completely lost in fog, resulted in the decision to replace it.

In 1897, two new lighthouses were built on the North and South extremities of the island, and the original one abandoned, but not demolished.

Photo by Pauline Eccles

See the location guides for the Lundy Island North Lighthouse and the Lundy Island South Lighthouse for the rest of the story of Lundy's lighthouses.

The old lighthouse can be visited now, and you can climb the tower. Those who choose to can stay in the lighthouse keepers cottages as they are used as holiday accommodation.

Lundy Island is accessible by boat. For information telephone, write or call the Lundy Sales Office: The Quay, Bideford, North Devon, EX39 2LY, or phone: 01237 470422.

Photo from  Frickr

This old photo. from soon after 1900, shows this lighthouse has changed very little over time.
The fact that a postcard was produced of it, after it had been replaced, suggests it was a
tourist site from an early date.

Lighthouse information Grid


Lundy Island (Old Light), Devon

Current status:

Disused, it is open to visitors, see below. Inactive since 1897.

Geographic Position:


Grid Reference:


Ceremonial County:



Granite tower with lantern and gallery, connected to two 2 storey keeper's houses. An additional 1 storey keeper's cottage is nearby. The buildings are unpainted stone, lantern painted white.

Map Link:


Aerial photo:

Google Satellite view

Other photos:

Geograph       closeup

Originally built:


Current lighthouse built:


Height of Tower:

29m    96ft

Height of light above mean sea level:

Higher than the two to replace it. The highest point on the island.

Character of light:

See text above it had two lights one constant and one flashing fast

Character of fog signal:

For some years in the 19th century canons were used as fog signals at this light station.

Range of light:

not known

Owned / run by:

Owner National Trust Lundy is financed, administered and maintained by the Landmark Trust. Site manager/tourism boats etc. Lundy Island Company

Getting there:

Located on Beacon Hill, the highest point of the island.


NT expensive including for members says you can explore
Site open, tower open for climbing, keeper's houses open to paying guests see notes below.


Lundy     NT    Landmark Trust Holidays

Other Useful Websites:

Wiki (Lundy island)      LD     Lighthouse Explorer

Other Relevant pages:

For more articles, lists and other information see the Lighthouses Section

Lighthouse Map of England and Wales

Featured List of Lighthouses - England and Wales  

List of Minor Lighthouses and Lights - England and Wales

Lundy Island North Lighthouse 

Lundy Island South lighthouse


All three keeper's houses are available for holiday rental.
Cottages at the Lundy Island Lighthouse are available for overnight stays.

For information, call 01271 863636 or email info@lundyisland.co.uk

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park   Section:  Lighthouses Section Key:
Page Ref: Lundy_Island_Old_Light Topic: Lighthouses Last Updated: 06/2010


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