Royal Museums Greenwich Item of the Month: John Smeaton’s ‘A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone’

Royal Museums Greenwich Item of the Month: John Smeaton’s ‘A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone’

A Narrative of the building… of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone, PBB4061

“May 2014 marks the 500th anniversary of the incorporation of Trinity House and May’s item of the month describes a pioneering triumph of English lighthouse engineering.

After the timber and stone lighthouse built on the Eddystone rocks by John Rudyerd was destroyed by fire in 1755, the Eddystone proprietors, who held a lease from Trinity House, chose John Smeaton to build a replacement. Warmly recommended by the Royal Society, Smeaton had no direct experience of building lighthouses – nor did anyone else – but was an instrument maker who investigated the power of wind and water and had tested ships’ compasses and logs at sea. Above all, as his biographer says, ‘he was valued for the power and clarity of his intellect’ (A.W. Skempton (1981), John Smeaton FRS, p.11).”

The new National Maritime Museum exhibition Guiding Lights celebrates 500 years of Trinity House. Exhibition Curator Gillian Hutchinson takes a closer look at a rare book, A Narrative of the building and a description of the construction of the Edystone [sic] lighthouse with stone, by John Smeaton, Civil Engineer, F.R.S., 1791.

After reading the post, go see for yourself! Visit the National Maritime Museum’s new temporary exhibition, Guiding lights: 500 years of Trinity House and safety at sea. Admission is free and open until January 2016.

 

Smeaton's Eddystone medal

Smeaton’s Eddystone medal

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