Worldwide Lighthouses

Souter Lighthouse


General Information

Established: 1871

Current Lighthouse Built: 1871

Height: 23.5 Metres (77.1 Feet)

Electrified: 1871

Operator: National Trust

Designer: Sir James Douglass

Light Information

White: 26 Nautical Miles

Red: Nautical Miles

Souter point lighthouse was built in 1871 to the design of Sir James Douglas and became the first purpose built lighthouse in the world to use electricity and an alternating current as its light source. Although called 'souter lighthouse', it is actually built on lizard point. The original idea was to build a lighthouse on souter point (which is further south) but lizard point was chosen instead as the cliffs there were higher, so the light's range was greater. Because a light exists at lizard point in cornwall, it was felt that the best way to avoid confusion was to name this lighthouse after the original site chosen for construction. Sometimes the lighthose is also reffered to as Marsden lighthouse, after the once nearby village, which was demolished in the 1960's due to erosion of the cliffs.

The tower contained two lights - the main white light was visible for 26 nautical miles, whilst a smaller red sector further down marked a nearby headland. The light was originally, provided by a carbon arc lamp, which had a power equal to 800,000 candles. At the time, it was the brightest lighthouse anywhere in the world. The then Master of Trinity House, Sir Fredrick Arrow stated that 'No lighthouse in any part of the world would bare comparison with it' The arc lamp was later updated to filament bulb, which remained up-till discontinuation of the light. A fixed red sector light was also displayed, from lower down in the tower, to mark an offshore sand bank.

The station consists of a red and white painted light tower, a large group of keepers houses (which now serve as a tearoom, museum and holiday lets), the engine room and a diaphone fog signal, all of which are open to the public.

The light itself was originally a carbon arc lamp, powered by two of Professor Fredrick Holmes' Electro-magnetic Generators (One of which is now on display at the national science museum in London)

The light was turned off in 1988 but remained under control of Trinity House until 1990, as the site still housed a Radar Beacon. As a result, the station was never automated and is largely in its original state. The only major changes over the years being the addition of a larger lantern, to contain a much larger and more powerful biformal lens, changes in the lighting and power aparatus and different, rectangular horns installed on the fogsignal building (Rather than the usual oval shaped horns)

All of the buildings on the site were taken over and are now preserved by the national trust - they are open to the public regually and the fog signal is occasionally sounded.


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