Start Point Lighthouse

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Start Point lighthouse
Start Point lighthouse including the well house and keepers cottage
Location Devon, England
Coordinates 50°13′17″N 3°38′19″W / 50.22144°N 3.63863°W / 50.22144; -3.63863Coordinates: 50°13′17″N 3°38′19″W / 50.22144°N 3.63863°W / 50.22144; -3.63863
Year first constructed 1836
Year first lit 1836
Automated 1993
Construction masonry
Tower shape conical
Markings / pattern white
Height 28 metres (92 ft)
Focal height 62 metres (203 ft)
Original lens 3rd order catadioptric (rotating)
Current lens 3rd Order Catadioptric Lens
Intensity 200,000 Candela
Range 25 nautical miles (46 km)
Characteristic white light flashes three times every 10 seconds
ARLHS number ENG 148

Start Point lighthouse was built in 1836 to protect shipping off Start Point in south Devon England. Open to the public in summer months, it is a grade II listed building owned and operated by Trinity House.



Start Point is one of twenty nine towers designed by James Walker. The lighthouse is in the gothic style, topped by a crenellated parapet. The main tower is built of tarred and white-painted granite ashlar with a cast-iron lantern roofed in copper. The tall circular tower is 28 metres (92 ft) high with a moulded plinth and pedestal stage and two diminishing stages above that. There are two entrances porches, on the north and south sides. The porch on the south side is blocked and has a 4-centred arch hoodmould, whilst the doorway to the north porch has a Tudor arch. Both have raised parapets with Trinity House arms.

The inside of the tower includes a cantilevered granite staircase around the inside well of the tower with an iron balustrade completed by a cast-iron newelan. The lighthouse originally had the keepers' living accommodation on the ground and first floors but this was removed in 1871 when new keepers' houses were built nearby. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade II listed building.[1]

Changes since construction[edit]

Since its construction, in 1836, the lighthouse has undergone many changes. In 1862, a fog-signalling bell was added but this was quickly replaced by a siren in 1877. In 1989, the erosion of the coast caused part of the lighthouse complex, including the fog signal, to collapse. A lot of the area had to be leveled as a result and retaining walls put in place. Other buildings which were used by the lighthouse keepers, who originally could only get on or off the lighthouse by boat, such as the well[2] and piggery[3] have survived.

Work began on the automation of Start Point Lighthouse in August 1992 and was carried out by LEC Marine at a cost of £82,754. It was completed in early 1993. The station is now monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Operations Control Centre at Harwich in Essex via a telemetry link.


The lens is developed from the dioptic system designed by Alan Stevenson, the first of this kind to be used by Trinity House.[4] Two white lights were originally exhibited, one revolving and one fixed to mark the Skerries Bank. The fixed light was subsequently changed to a fixed red subsidiary light to mark this hazard. The light was powered by oil until 1959 when it was electrified. It uses a Fresnel lens.


Start Point, Devon

The light alone was found to be inadequate in fog, and a bell was installed in the 1860s. The machinery was housed in a small building on the cliff face and operated by a weight which fell in a tube running down the sheer cliff. A siren replaced the bell after only fifteen years.[4] When required the foghorn sounds once every 60 seconds.


  1. ^ "Start Point Lighthouse". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  2. ^ "Well House immediately North West of Start Point Lighthouse". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  3. ^ "Piggery North North East of Start Point Lighthouse". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  4. ^ a b "Start Point Lighthouse". Trinity House. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 

External links[edit]