Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 22, 2013


This post is prompted by Saturdays visit to Souter Lighthouse.


Can you see the two white towers. These are on the river Tyne and were known to our family ( and probably others) as the upper and lower lights. In the days of sailing ships, they would line themselves up so that that the two towers were directly in line . This would get them safely into the river mouth avoiding a rocky reef called the Black Middens.
When we arrived at Souter Lighthouse, we met Mike Ennis who is the volunteer engineer who maintains the various pieces of equipment.


He was really interesting to talk to as he was a marine engineer and has had to learn how to cope with all the various types of machinery such as the lights and the foghorn.


This is a plaque detailing that this was the first electrically powered light but there was a back up diesel engine. The original bulb was huge.


However, the last bulbs were very small by comparison.


The prisms were huge, taller  than me and some older children were standing inside one.


The prism was mounted on a mechanism that allows it to move with the touch of a finger, so balanced is the equipment. Getting up to the light was up two flights of stairs, one really like a ladder.


The tower is 70 feet tall I believe but stands on a cliff top of he same height.


This is one of the views from the top.
The families of the lighthouse keepers lived in attached cottages and one replicates the victorian cottage. I was interested to see the quilts on the beds. One was a typical Durham strippy quilt.




I’m glad I don’t have to do all my washing with this.


There was machinery salvaged from other redundant lighthouses and DS1 was really pleased to have the compressor system for the foghorn explained to him. I remember as a child, the haar would roll in and Souter could be heard with it’s long low booooom which lasted for 6 seconds.
Modern technology has done away for the need for this machinery and so volunteers keep our heritage alive. In June there will be a Requiem for Foghorns  played at Souter. Every foghorn had a different tone and duration which mafe them unique. Few work now but if you want to here one, be in Sunderland on a foggy day because theirs still sounds.
Thanks to the National Trust for it’s free entry and Frugal Queens blog for the info. We had a great day.



  1. Interesting post…I love lighthouses…..have a good number of them down this neck of the woods…Portland Bill & the Needles are my two favourites..

    • Thanks Trevor, I hope to get up to Cape Wrath in June to see the lighthouse there

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