The lighthouse that stands on Pendeen Watch, on the north coast of cornwall is the first mainland lighthouse that vessels entering the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel see after passing Longships.
The station was built in 1900 as the high cliffs in the area blocked out the light from Longships, which is only 7 miles away and Trevose Head, which is over 38 miles away. This made it difficuilt for vessels to establish their position in the
area, even more so, during fog.
As a result of this problem, a light and fog signal were established and came into operation for the first time on September 27th of 1900. The new station was designed by Sir Thomas Matthews, in a similar style used on many of his
Despite being on the mainland, the light was still pretty remote so a walled garden was included in the design, so keepers could grow their own food. The housing consisted of an 'E' shaped building that joined onto the lighthouse via a
short coridor and a square building at the cliff edge contained a siren, with two large black trumpets on its roof. In the centre of the compound is the lighthouse itself, standing at 17 metres in height, with its light elevated to 57 metres,
including the cliff.
The small tower consists of 2 floors - the upper floor is where oil was stored prior to the electrification of the light - it was pumped up a pipe at a steady rate, into the five-wick Argand lamp when needed. The building is painted white
and is unusual in that it is one of very few lighthouses with an anti-clockwise rotating optic. The optic - weighing over 2½ tons - which is almost identical to the one in Pendeen Lighthouse, consists of 8 pannels, which give 4 group flashes
every 15 seconds, seperated by a period of darkness with the duration of 5 seconds. This light can be seen for 16 nautical miles. Trevose Head's Lighthouse has a range of 20 nautical miles, which means that for 2 miles between there
and Pendeen Watch, neither of the 2 lighthouses can be seen. Only Godrevy Lighthouse can be seen - the main navigation light there is visible for a maximum of 12 nautical miles.
Suprisingly the lighting aparatus still operated a gas light as a backup light until 1995, when the lighthouse was automated. One of the keepers bought one of the adjoined houses at this time. An electric emergency light replaced the gas
one and the old fog signal was turned off and replaced.
The new electronic horn, which is still used today, gives a single blast Once Every 20 Seconds, whilst the old horn originally gave one blast of seven seconds duration every two minutes from December 15th, 1900 the duration of the
silence between blasts was changed to only 1½ minutes -this was later changed again, to 1 quick blast seperated by a 18 second silence.
The station was mostly electrified in 1926, relying on a gas backup until it was fully electrified and automated in 1995. All of the station's operations can be monitored and controlled from Harwich in Essex; nearly 326 miles away.