On This Day in Trinity House History – 30 October


St. Agnes Lighthouse is lit for the first time

St. Agnes Lighthouse on St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly is built by Trinity House and lit for the first time.

Excerpt from Observations on the ancient and present state of the islands of Scilly: and their importance to the trade of Great-Britain by William Borlase 1756:

“The greatest ornament of this Island is the Lighthouse, which, as you may never have seen one, give me leave to describe. It stands on the highest ground, and is indeed a fine Column. The building, from the foundation to the bottom of the Lantern, is of stone, fifty-one feet high, the Gallery four; the Sash-lights eleven feet six inches high by three feet two inches wide; each pane of glass is one foot nine inches and an half high by one foot five and an half wide of the best Crown-glass, the number of Sashes sixteen. The Column is divided into three Stories, marked by three Lists or Astragals; the Stairs … are of stone, but [above] are of timber; on the floor of the Lantern is laid a platform of brick, upon which stands a substantial Iron Grate, square, barred on every side, in which the coal fire is lighted every night, and a Bellows (of the same size and make as a Smith’s Bellows) so fixed as to blow the fire when it wants that assistance.

The Lantern, consisting wholly of timber-work and glass, is a spacious room; it has a coving canopy roof, in the middle of which there is one large Chimney, which has many subordinate funnels round it, all piercing the roof, and contributing to discharge the smoke. To supply the fire they use a great deal of coals, which are drawn up through a trap door by means of a Windlass; what cinders the fire leaves are thrown into a gutter-hole above, and descending through a hollow passage made purposely in the Buttress, are discharged. […] there is a Gallery quite round round the Lantern, railed in; this Gallery serves for air to the Fire-men, and to clean and repair the windows, and as is mentioned before, collects the rain water which descends through the Lead-pipe into the Cistern. The whole Stonework is plaistered white, which makes it as useful a mark by day for Ships coming from the Southward as the light of the fire does by night.”

St. Agnes Lighthouse Scilly

St. Agnes Lighthouse Scilly



The Elder Brethren are ordered to assist with pressganging

Trinity House Court Minute:

“By his Majesty in Councell
To the Trinity House.

Whereas his Majesty has been pleased for the more easy and speedy Supply and furnishing His Fleet with Able and Sufficient Mariners and Seamen, to Direct the Commissioners of Customs to cause Lists to be made of the Names of all the Mariners and Seamen in the Severall Ports of the Kingdome. And the said Commissioners having represented that your Assistance will contribute to the easier Effecting thereof, Wee do therefore in His Majesty’s Name and by His Command’ pray and require you, as much as in you lies, aide and assist the Officers of Their Majesty’ s Customes, who shall make application to you for that purpose, in making Exact lists of the Names and Sirnames together with the ages and Place of Abode of all Mariners and Seafaring Men not only on the River of Thames and Medway, but in all other places where you may in any way assist in perfecting such lists.

A like letter to the Master Wardens and Assistants of the Trinity House of Newcastle.”


Casquets Lighthouse is lit for the first time

Casquets Lighthouse: Thomas Le Cocq, under patent from Trinity House, first lights the three lights called St Peter, St Thomas and Dungeon.

About 1722, the owners of ships passing certain dangerous “Rocks called the Casketts” off Alderney in the Channel Islands, applied to Thomas Le Cocq, the proprietor of the Rocks, to build a lighthouse and offered him ½d. per ton when vessels passed the light. Le Cocq approached Trinity House and a patent was obtained on 3 June, 1723.

Trinity House decided that a light of particular character to distinguish it from those on the opposite shores of England and France was needed. Three separate lights in the form of a horizontal triangle were proposed, and three towers containing closed fires, i.e. coal fires burning in glazed lanterns were erected. These three lights called, St Peter, St Thomas and Dungeon were first exhibited on 30 October, 1724.

The lease granted to Le Cocq by Trinity House lasted for 61 years at a rent of £50 per annum. The three Casquets lights reverted to Trinity House (in 1785) and were converted to metal reflectors and Argand lamps on 25 November 1790; a revolving apparatus was fitted to each tower at the Casquets in 1818, and the three towers were raised by 30ft in 1854.

The Casquets Lighthouse and rocks have been the scene of many shipping disasters, among them the SS STELLA in 1899 with a loss of 112 lives.

The three original towers at the Casquets are still in use, although only the North West Tower still exhibits a light. A helideck is mounted on the third tower.

Casquets Lighthouse by Matthew Clarke

Casquets Lighthouse by Matthew Clarke

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