Flamborough Head Lighthouse

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Flamborough Head Lighthouse
Flamborough Lighthouse.JPG
Flamborough Head Lighthouse
Flamborough Head Lighthouse is located in East Riding of Yorkshire
Flamborough Head Lighthouse
East Riding of Yorkshire
East Riding of Yorkshire
Coordinates54°6′58.7″N 0°4′57.6″W / 54.116306°N 0.082667°W / 54.116306; -0.082667Coordinates: 54°6′58.7″N 0°4′57.6″W / 54.116306°N 0.082667°W / 54.116306; -0.082667
Year first constructed1669 (first, Chalk Tower)
Year first lit1806 (current)
Constructionbrick tower
Tower shapecylindrical tower with double balcony and lantern (current)
octagonal tower (first)
Markings / patternwhite tower and lantern (current)
white tower (first)
Tower height26.5 metres (87 ft) (current)[1]
24 metres (79 ft) (first)
Focal height65 metres (213 ft) [1]
Current lens1st order catadioptric rotating
Intensity433,000 candela[1]
Range24 nmi (44 km; 28 mi)
CharacteristicFl (4) W 15s.
Fog signal2 blasts every 90s.
Admiralty numberA2582
NGA number1964
ARLHS numberENG 042
Managing agentEast Riding of Yorkshire Council[2]
HeritageFirst – Grade II* listed[3]
Current – Grade II listed[4]

Flamborough Head Lighthouse is an active lighthouse located at Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire. England. Flamborough Head Lighthouse acts as a waypoint for passing deep sea vessels and coastal traffic, and marks Flamborough Head for vessels heading towards Scarborough and Bridlington.

Old lighthouse[edit]

The chalk tower near Flamborough Head

The first lighthouse, built by Sir John Clayton, was completed in 1674 and is one of the oldest surviving complete lighthouses in England. Built from chalk, it was never lit. This is now a Grade II* listed building.[3]

Current lighthouse[edit]

The lighthouse c. 1890

The present lighthouse, designed by Samuel Wyatt and costing £8,000 to build, was first lit on 1 December 1806. It had a distinctive light characteristic of two white flashes followed by a red flash. This was provided by the lighting apparatus, which was designed by optics specialist George Robinson, who was also Chief Inspector of Lighthouses at Trinity House.[5] It consisted of a revolving vertical shaft with a three-sided frame on which were mounted 21 argand lamps, 7 on each side, with parabolic reflectors. On one of the three sides the reflectors were covered with red glass: this was the first use of red glass in a lighthouse and represented the first use of the colour as part of a light characteristic;[5] the idea was soon taken up elsewhere. According to a description of the lighthouse written in 1818, the red light was used to distinguish Flamborough's lighthouse from the one at Cromer.[6]

In the early 1870s a new paraffin lamp was installed to the design of James Douglass,[7] and with it a new dioptric optic by Chance Brothers of Smethwick.[8] The revolving optic was designed to maintain the lighthouse's characteristic of two white flashes followed by one red flash. To achieve this, the red-covered lenses were made more than double the width of the clear white-flashing panels, to compensate for the reduced intensity caused by the red filters.[9]

The expanded lantern containing the lens

In 1925 the lantern was made taller, to accommodate a new 15-foot lens.[10] The lens is a large (first-order) revolving catadioptric optic made up of four asymmetrical panels; it displays four white flashes every fifteen seconds. The light was converted from oil to electricity in 1940.

Following automation, the last lighthouse keepers left on 8 May 1996.[1] The light remains in use. East Riding of Yorkshire Council, under licence from Trinity House, operate tours of the lighthouse seasonally.[11] This is now a Grade II listed building.[4]

Fog signal station[edit]

The fog signal station

In 1859 a fog signal station was built at a short distance from the lighthouse, close to the cliff edge. Initially an 18-pound gun was used as the fog signal[12] (the cottage was built as accommodation for the gunners).[13] In 1878, explosive rockets replaced the cannon, discharged every 5 minutes in foggy weather and reaching an altitude of 600 feet (180 m).[1] By 1889 an engine house had been built to provide compressed air for a fog siren, which sounded through twin horns (Rayleigh trumpets from 1908)[12] mounted on the roof.[14] In 1924 this was replaced by a diaphone system, itself superseded by the current electric fog signal in 1975.

The fog signal compound remains in Trinity House ownership; along with the modern fog signal apparatus, it has since 1998 accommodated a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) signal station.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Flamborough Head Lighthouse". Trinity House. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Flamborough Head". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b Historic England. "The Old Lighthouse (1083400)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "The Lighthouse (1083399)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b Tag, Thomas. "Lens Use Prior to Fresnel". United States Lighthouse Society. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  6. ^ Cotton, Joseph (1818). Memoir on the Origin and Incorporation of the Trinity House of Deptford Strond. London. p. 114.
  7. ^ Elliot, George H. (1875). European Light-House Systems. London: Lockwood & co. p. 70 n.3. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  8. ^ Chance, James Frederick (1902). The Lighthouse Work of Sir James Chance, Baronet (PDF). London: Smith, Elder & co. p. 166. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  9. ^ Elliot, George H. (1875). European Light-House Systems. London: Lockwood & co. pp. 117–118. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Flamborough Lighthouse at Flamborough Outer Headland". Visit Hull and East Yorkshire. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Flamborough Head Lighthouse visitor centre". Trinity House. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b Renton, Alan (2001). Lost Sounds: The Story of Coast Fog Signals. Caithness, Scotland: Whittles.
  13. ^ "Flamborough's lighthouses" (PDF). Flamborough Parish Council. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  14. ^ Photograph c.1910
  15. ^ Millyard, Simon (Winter 2015). "The new Differential Global Positioning System". Flash (24): 6. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

External links[edit]