Posted by: brendaintheboro | April 22, 2013

Lighthouses

This post is prompted by Saturdays visit to Souter Lighthouse.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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However, the last bulbs were very small by comparison.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Responses

  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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