On This Day in Trinity House History – 25 July


Bull Point Lighthouse is re-opened

The newly rebuilt lighthouse at Bull Point is re-opened by Deputy Master Captain (later Sir) David Tibbits, after major land subsidence caused the previous lighthouse to be unusable.

From the Trinity House Flash magazine at the time:

Flash magazine cover Autumn 1975 Lighthouse Keepers Mr Mrs Whiston at Bull Point

Flash magazine cover Autumn 1975 Lighthouse Keepers Mr Mrs Whiston at Bull Point

The rebuilt lighthouse at Bull Point was opened by the Deputy Master, Captain D.S. Tibbits, D.S.C., R.N., at 1200 on Friday, 25th July, 1975, in the presence of the Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of the County of Devon, Field Marshal Sir Richard Hull, G.C.B.,D.S.O., Captains D.A.G. Dickens, M.B, Wingate and T. Woodfield O.B.E., Board Members, members of the Trinity House staff and officials from the shipping community, local government and invited guests and Press.

Friday, July 25th, was a beautiful day, it was one of those clays when Devon was a good place to be in. The lighthouse was gleaming and everything had been prepared for the opening.

The guests began to arrive from 10.30 onwards, and the Trinity House film “To Serve the Mariner” was shown to a small but interested audience of Keepers, and guests, many of whom had been directly involved in the construction of the lighthouse as can be seen from the reproduced letter from T.R. Yeo and Sons Limited (the builders) to Captain D.S. Tibbits.

“I had hoped to have the opportunity on Friday last of formally expressing to you, and to the other members of the Board of Trinity I-louse, on behalf of the members and staff of my company, our thanks for the compliment paid to us by having the rebuilding of Bull Point Lighthouse entrusted to us. We were proud to be chosen as the local firm to carry out the work, and I speak for my company and all its employees involved in the building when I say that we dedicated ourselves to the task in conditions which were at times beyond description, even for this part of the coastline. For that reason, however, we took the greatest pleasure in your own expression of satisfaction with our work.

In saying that, I must express our grateful thanks to the staff of Trinity House generally, and to both Mr. J. Skipper and Mr. M.H. Crisp in particular. Without their kind help and unstinted advice, we should have found the job a much more difficult one. My son, Malcolm John Yeo, had most to do with the construction from our side, and he feels particularly indebted to Mr. Skipper for all the help and kindness shown.

As you so kindly made reference to my ancestors having a hand in the building of the original lighthouse, I should perhaps explain that they were the local artisans of their day. Their work lasted for close on a century, and would have lasted longer, no doubt, but for the ravages of time and tide which wait for no man. Our hope is that the new structure will long outlive the years its predecessor served so well and beamed its comforting light faithfully throughout those long years to many a hard pressed mariner.

Thank you again, Sir, for the help and advice we have received from Trinity House. We shall feel privileged to serve that most wonderful organisation in any future demands they may make upon us.

In conclusion may I, on behalf of my company and my own good men, wish Good Luck to all who will serve at Bull Point in the years ahead.”

At 11.35 the Trinity I-louse helicopter containing the Deputy Master and Mr. Otto Gredal, the Head of the Danish Lighthouse Service, circled the tower of the lighthouse and landed.

Captain Tibbits, accompanied by the Engineer-in-Chief Mr. l.C. Clingan, and the new Principal Keeper Mr. T. Whiston, carried out a brief inspection of the lighthouse.

There then followed a short Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication by the Reverend L.E.M. Claxton, and then Captain Tibbits mounted the podium and gave the speech officially declaring Bull Point operational.

The speech, which was direct and to the point, welcomed everybody to Bull Point, explained the necessities for building a new lighthouse and more remarkably how this was achieved by the scheduled date and within the original estimate of £71,000, which in these days was no mean achievement and due to the efforts of all the various contractors involved and included Trinity House personnel from Blackwall and ‘outstation’ duty. The speech was rounded off by the declaration that Bull Point Lighthouse was now “in commission and operational” and the Light and Fog Signal were brought into action.

After the opening ceremony, the lighthouse was opened to the guests and a very pleasant buffet lunch was served. Everybody left at about 1500, wishing Mr. and Mrs. T. Whiston a long and happy career at Bull Point.

Curiously enough, the first ship to pass Bull Point after it became officially operational was a vessel once commanded by Captain Dickens, an Elder Brother, the M.V. SUSSEX and the following signal was sent to her by him:-

To: Master, SUSSEX.
Bull Point new lighthouse commissioned at 1213 BST this day stop at this precise moment observed your vessel proceeding west some sixteen miles to north stop it is a small world as i commanded SUSSEX coastwise in same position sixth February nineteen sixty stop good luck sailing and may Taurus never lose his paradise for you or your ship.


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