Thursday, 3 November 2016

Burnham-on-Sea's Three Lighthouses

Burnham-on-Sea has had three lighthouses in the past. 

The story goes that c1750 the wife of a Burnham fisherman placed a candle in a window to guide her husband home.  After the death of her husband in a boating accident she continued to do this and was later paid to do so.  After her death a light was placed on top of the tower of St Andrew's Church with the permission of the Curate, the Reverend David Davies.  He offered to build a lighthouse if the local fishermen would pay for its upkeep.  The 4 storey Round Tower Lighthouse was built attached to his house and adjacent to the churchyard in around 1800.  In 1813 Rev Davies successfully applied to Trinity House for a grant and permission to levy dues on passing ships.  He was granted a lease for 100 years but Trinity House purchased it back from him in 1829.

In 1832 Trinity House built the High Lighthouse on the landward side of the sand dunes on Berrow Road.  At the same time the height of the original lighthouse was reduced by 2 storeys and a parapet was added to avoid confusion with the new lighthouse.  The High Lighthouse was built of brick and is 30 metres high. It is known locally as the Pillar Lighthouse.

However it was soon realised that the light was too low to be seen at certain states of the tide (the Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world).  Therefore the Low Lighthouse was built on the beach due west of the High Lighthouse to complement it in 1834.  It was constructed of teak on legs of oak to raise it above the level of the high tide.

The High Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 and sold off as a private dwelling, although the red vertical stripe painted down the seaward side of the tower still acts as a daymark.  The Low Lighthouse was decommissioned at the same time but was brought back into use as a navigation light in 1993.

Burnham's First Lighthouse from St Andrew's Churchyard

Burnham's High Lighthouse
Red Stripe on Burnham's High Lighthouse

Back of Burnham's Low Lighthouse

Burnham's Low Lighthouse from the back

Front of the Low Lighthouse at low tide

Low Lighthouse on the Beach

Low Lighthouse

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