Souter Lighthouse ~ March 2019

The History Bit

On the coast near the village of Marsden on the outskirts of South Shields, stands the rather magnificent looking Souter Lighthouse. This lighthouse was the first in the world to be designed and built specifically to use AC (alternating electric current) and was the most technically advanced lighthouse of its day. Opening in 1871 it was described as ‘without doubt one of the most powerful lights in the world’.  Originally planned to be built on Souter Point, from where it gets its name, it ended up being built on Lizard Point which had higher cliffs and therefore better visibility.  As there was already a Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall, they didn’t bother to rename it.

The lighthouse was definitely needed by the time it was up and running. Prior to that there had been several shipwrecks at Whitburn Steel, (the name of that bit of coast) due to the underlying dangerous reef. In 1860 alone 20 wrecks had occurred, and it was known as the most dangerous coastline in the country, with an average of 44 wrecks for each mile.

The lighthouse didn’t use incandescent bulbs, but instead used carbon arcs, and the 800,000 candle power light could be seen for 26 miles. The main lens array consisted of a third-order fixed catadioptric optic surrounded by a revolving assembly of eight vertical condensing-prisms which produced one flash every minute. There was extra light to highlight hazardous rocks to the south which was powered using light diverted (through a set of mirrors and lenses) from the landward side of the main arc lamp.

In 1914 it was decided to give up the pioneering electric light and it was converted to more conventional oil lamps with a new, much larger bi-form first-order catadioptric revolving optic, which is still there today.  Then in 1952 it was converted back to mains electricity and the revolving optic was run by electrically run clockwork until 1983.  Sadly the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988, but continued to serve as a radio navigation beacon up until 1999 when it was finally closed.  No need for lighthouses now what with GPS and satellite navigation taking their place.

Souter Lighthouse was never automated and remains much in its original operational state, apart from maintenance and updates to its electrical apparatus and lanterns.

Souter Lighthouse

The grassed area north of Souter was once a thriving community of 700 people. Built as a mining village in 1874 to house the workers at the new Whitburn Colliery.  The best coal seams in the North East extend out into the North Sea here and Whitburn Coal Company sunk two shafts south of the lighthouse between 1874 – 1877 with the first coal brought out in 1881. By 1898 it was producing 2,600 tons of coal per day. The colliery finally closed in 1968. The reclaimed land is now Whitburn Coastal Park.

Whitburn Coastal Park

The Lighthouse is owned by the National Trust now and you can go and have a look around inside and climb the top. The engine room, light tower and keeper’s living quarters are all on view. Two of the former lighthouse keepers’ cottages are used as National Trust holiday cottages. The lighthouse is said to be haunted, and has even featured on British TV’s Most Haunted ghost-hunting programme. 🙄

We went first to look around the inside of the lighthouse, there’s a lot of gubbins!

copper gubbins
lens and lamp

One of the volunteers was there when we were, and was twiddling knobs and handles to build up the air pressure that drives the foghorn, which still works.

Mr.Foghorn
more gubbins
going up

When the pressure was right the Mr.Foghorn told us to follow him so we could set off the foghorn.

Sophie with the foghorn button.

Sophie hit the button and the foghorn nearly blew my ears off!

One of the old bulbs.

We saw the keepers living quarters.

After that we climbed the very steep spiral staircase to get to the top, the last section was just a ladder! But the views were great!

The Foghorn

It only takes a morning to do the lighthouse, so in the afternoon we went off to Cleadon, which apart from being where the posh people live, has an ice~age duck pond and a gothic grotto. So stay tooned for that!

refs
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souter_Lighthouse
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/souter-lighthouse-and-the-leas

Day 366~366!

Yipee I made it to the end, didn’t miss a single day and am chuffed to pieces with my project.  I learned a lot along the way, about composition, slowing down, being disciplined and lots of technical bits I hadn’t bothered with before.

Next year will be a different beastie, it will be a 365 as it’s not a leap year and will be tied in with my starting the ‘walk 1000 miles in 2017’ project. I’ll be using my phone and film cameras for it and it will be posted on my Fraggles Other Place blog, leaving this one clear for Fraggle reports with the fuji again. Wish me luck!

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Day 365~366

Tonight Phil came with me to photograph the bridges over the Tyne. I’ve seen loads from other people, and it probably doesn’t look any different to those, but this is mine and I’m chuffed it turned out so well.

 

I took a few others so here are they,

The millennium bridge and The Baltic

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The millennium bridge and The Sage

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The Sage

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and my shot of the day.. ta da!

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Day 363 & 364

Another busy day yesterday as we had our 2 grandkids staying over, I got my shot but by the  time we’d got the last one in bed and had something to eat it was too late to faff on the net.

Also we’ve had 2 sunny if cold days, so the first shot is of the sunlight coming in to my bathroom just before it goes down behind the houses.

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At this time of year the sun is very low in the sky all day, so doesn’t get above the houses at the back of where we live, but for 15 minutes or so it shines through the gap between 2 houses and streams through our back fence.

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Only 2 days to go!

Day 362~366

It’s been a busy day here today as we had family over for a festive tea, so Phil was doing tidying and I was doing cooking. No time for photo’s of my magnificent spread before it got eaten 😀 and as it’s late~ish now have just taken a shot of the globe lamp in our conservatory.

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Day 361~366

The weather tonight is even worse than when we had Storm Barbara.  This I presume is Storm Connor, which wasn’t supposed to affect us much but it is, so I am staying in the warm.  Running out of lights to shoot indoors, so made a tea~light fest of most of my candle holders.

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Day 360~366

Into t he home stretch now, 6 days left.  I saved my Christmas Tree lights for today’s post, hope everyone is having a fab day.

 

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Day 359~366

To all my Wordypeep  followers, especially those who are following my 366, thanks for your encouragement and comments 🙂

 

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Day 358~366

Storm Barbara started on us about 12 midday and we thought it was a bit of a poor show to start with.  Phil and I went out dropping cards off to relatives and having cups of coffee with all, and by the time we drove home we were in the thick of it, Barbara was definitely mean and feisty.  So we are home now and warm and toasty while the wind gusts about and sporadic episodes of lashing rain come and go. Definitely not a night to  venture forth with a camera, well at least not if you are a wimp like me, so made do with the water feature in my conservatory.

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