On This Day in Trinity House History – 8 December

1858

Electric light introduced into South Foreland High Lighthouse

In 1858 South Foreland High Lighthouse became the first in the world to exhibit an electrically-powered light, made possible by Trinity House’s Scientific Advisor Professor Michael Faraday and his colleague Professor Holmes. They believed that electricity could effectively power a lighthouse light and so installed Holmes’ magneto-electric machine.

The experiments were a success technically, but electricity proved too costly as a power source, so Trinity House lighthouses continued to use mineral oils for some decades longer.

The front of South Foreland Lighthouse atop the White Cliffs of Dover near to Dover, Kent, in south-east England

The front of South Foreland Lighthouse atop the White Cliffs of Dover near to Dover, Kent, in south-east England

On This Day in Trinity House History – 22 September

1791

Michael Faraday is born

Portrait of Faraday by Thos. Phillips 1842

Portrait of Faraday by Thos. Phillips 1842

Chemist and Physicist Professor Michael Faraday—considered one of the greatest experimentalists that ever lived—is remembered for his pioneering experiments in electricity and magnetism, many of which were carried out at the lighthouse at Blackwall as Scientific Advisor to the Corporation.

During the 1840s most of Faraday’s efforts for Trinity House were directed towards developing a chimney for the purpose of ventilating lighthouse lanterns, to prevent the smoke and fumes from the burning illuminant condensing on the lantern panes which thus reduced the quality of light emitted; it would be the only invention of his to be patented.

Professor Faraday died 25 August 1867.