On This Day in Trinity House History – 22 November

1900

Recollections of a Lighthouse Keeper

A letter to the Editor of Flash magazine from Mr. F Squibb on the Isle of Wight offers the following brief recollection of life in the Trinity House service:

“I joined the Lighthouse Service on the 22nd November 1900. At that time we were paid on the 24th of the month, so my first pay day on the 24th November was 3 days. Not a very big sum. I cannot understand about the Classes for Instruction, for at that time we received instruction firstly at the Experimental Room at Trinity House in the management of the Oil Burners which were 8 wick burners and terrors they were. We also received instruction in semaphore and Morse code. If I remember rightly, a Mr. Morrison was our Instructor.

After finishing at Trinity House, we then had to go to Blackwall for further instruction. Captain J.G. Browne was Superintendent at Blackwall then, but before I finished my course there I was sent to duty at the Admiralty Pier, Dover, which they were lengthening at that time. I went back there again in 1913 and stayed there for 11 1/2 years all through the 1914-1918 war, when I went to the South Foreland. I should like to add here that my grandfather, who was a Cornish stone-mason, helped to build the “Scilly Bishop Lighthouse” before he joined as a Lighthouse Keeper.

After that I had three uncles and four cousins in the Service, so we were quite a service family. I served in several more lighthouses including South Foreland, Nab Tower, Lizard, Casquets and the Maplin Sands before finishing up at Pendeen in 1940. So I had a good time and now have been enjoying my retirement for 33 years. So I am what they call one of the “bad bargains”.

But I hope to go on enjoying it as long as the Good Lord gives me the health and strength to do it…”

Lizard Point, Cornwall, lighthouse, lighthouse keeper, Trinity House, history, lighthouse service, British maritime history

Lizard at Night from Housel Bay

 

On This Day in Trinity House History – 26 September

1900

Pendeen Lighthouse is first lit

A light is established at Pendeen in Cornwall.

From Cape Cornwall the coast runs NE by E towards the Wra, or Three Stone Oar, off Pendeen. From here the inhospitable shore continues for a further eight miles or so to the Western entrance of St. Ives Bay, the principal feature here being the Gurnards Head, on which many ships have come to grief.

Until 1891 maritime safety off Pendeen depended more on activity after a wreck rather than effective prevention, the “Admiralty Sailing Directions” for that year being only able to report a “Coastguard Station where a rocket apparatus is kept”. The high cliffs along this sector of coastline prevented passing vessels from catching sight of either Trevose Head to the East or the Longships to the West; and so numbers of them, unable to ascertain their position, were lost, particularly on the groups of sunken and exposed rocks near Pendeen Watch. Trinity House became increasingly concerned about this state of affairs as the nineteenth century drew to its close, and decided to erect a lighthouse and fog signal at Pendeen. Designs for the building were prepared by Sir Thomas Matthews, the Trinity House Engineer, their construction being undertaken by Arthur Carkeek, of Redruth, with Messrs. Chance, of Birmingham supplying the lantern.

More at the Trinity House website

Pendeen Lighthouse

Pendeen Lighthouse

 


1915

First World War casualties

Trinity House Pilot Cutter Vigilant was destroyed by a mine while cruising at Sunk station. Eight of the eleven pilots on board were killed, the rest injured. Seven of the crew were killed and one other injured.