Pendeen Lighthouse

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Pendeen Lighthouse
Pendeen lighthouse at pendeen watch.jpg
Pendeen Watch lighthouse
Pendeen Lighthouse is located in Cornwall
Pendeen Lighthouse
United Kingdom
Coordinates50°09′54″N 5°40′17″W / 50.164983°N 5.671526°W / 50.164983; -5.671526Coordinates: 50°09′54″N 5°40′17″W / 50.164983°N 5.671526°W / 50.164983; -5.671526
Year first constructed1900
Constructionconcrete rubblestone tower
Tower shapecylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings / patternwhite tower
Tower height17 metres (56 ft)
Focal height59 metres (194 ft)
Original lens1st order catadioptric fixed lens
Current lens1st order dioptric, 2 groups of 4 panels, rotating lens
Intensity18,700 candela
Range16 nautical miles (30 km; 18 mi)
CharacteristicFl (4) W 15s.
Fog signalonce every 20s.
Admiralty numberA5670
NGA number6304
ARLHS numberENG 101
Managing agentTrinity House[1]

Pendeen Lighthouse, also known as Pendeen Watch is located 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the north of Pendeen in west Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.[2] It is located within the Aire Point to Carrick Du SSSI, the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Penwith Heritage Coast. The South West Coast Path passes to the south.


Trinity House decided to build a lighthouse and foghorn in 1891 and the building was designed by their engineer Sir Thomas Matthews. The 17 metres (56 ft) tower, buildings and surrounding wall was constructed by Arthur Carkeek of Redruth who had to flatten the headland before building could commence.[3] The five–wick Argand lamp provided by Messrs Chance, of Smethwick near Birmingham, was commissioned on 26 September 1900 and replaced in 1926 by an electric one. (The original Argand oil lamp was on display at the Trinity House National Lighthouse Museum, Penzance until 2005 when the museum closed.) Chance Brothers also manufactured the lens system: a large (first-order) rotating optic made up of two sets of four panels (eight panels in all), which displayed a group of four flashes every fifteen seconds,[4] which as of 2019 is still in use.[5]

The fog signal was sounded from a detached engine house a little to the north-west. In 1900 it contained a pair of Hornsby oil engines providing compressed air for the twin 5-inch sirens, which sounded through vertical curved trumpets (still in place) on the engine room roof. In 1926 Pendeen was the first Trinity House station to be fitted with a new, more powerful 12-inch siren. This was part of a general upgrade to the lighthouse, which saw new Gardner diesel engines installed in the engine house and an electric filament lamp replacing the oil light in the lantern. (The Gardners were replaced by a pair of Ruston & Hornsby diesels in 1963).[6]

Pendeen Lighthouse was automated in 1995 with the keepers leaving the station on 3 May.[7] While a new electric lamp and automatic lamp changer were provided at this time, the original optic was retained and it remains in use.[8] As part of the preparation for automation the fog siren was decommissioned and replaced with an electric fog signal.[8]

Former ancillary buildings including the fog horn engine house (left) and keepers' accommodation (foreground)

Apart from the tower itself, with its machinery built into the base, there is an 'E' shaped building split into a terrace of four cottages. Three of the cottages were originally used to house the three resident keepers, their wives and families, with the fourth used as an office area and sleeping accommodation for the supernumerary keepers. Water was originally collected off the flat roof of the accommodation block and stored in an underground tank.[3] They are now let as holiday cottages. Behind the cottages are three kitchen gardens (which soon fell into disuse as nothing would grow in such an exposed position) and, on the seaward side of the complex, the former fog siren and its accompanying machinery is housed in a separate building. Pendeen's engine house is 'the only example in the country to have retained its 12" siren with associated machinery'.[9] The engine house is Grade II listed, as are the lighthouse itself,[10] together with the associated buildings and boundary walls.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pendeen The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved April 227, 2016
  2. ^ Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 978-0-319-23148-7
  3. ^ a b Jones, Robin (2011). Lighthouses of the South West. Wellington, Somerset: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 107 4.
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 edition, vol. 16, p. 650.
  5. ^ "Pendeen Lighthouse". Trinity House. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  6. ^ Renton, Alan (2001). Lost Sounds: The Story of Coast Fog Signals. Caithness, Scotland: Whittles.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b Woodman, Richard; Wilson, Jane (2002). The Lighthouses of Trinity House. Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts.: Thomas Reed. pp. 196–197.
  9. ^ "Engine House at Pendeen Lighthouse". Historic England. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Pendeen Lighthouse and Keeper Cottages with courtyard walls". Historic England. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Boundary and Garden Walls to Pendeen Lighthouse". Historic England. Retrieved 25 March 2019.

External links[edit]