WALNEY LIGHTHOUSE & SOUTH END - Walney Island
During 1789 ‘Lancaster merchants’ petitioned Parliament and were successful in having leave granted to them in order to construct a lighthouse on the south-end peninsula of Walney-Island at Haws Point, adjacent to the 'high water mark'. It gives an understanding to the amount of land now re-deposited at the site as the lighthouse is now completely surrounded by land.
Funds for the lighthouse’s construction were gained by charges imposed on vessels using neighbouring ports of Glasson. It was because of Glasson’s dock system that the lighthouse was constructed in the first place and not for the benefit Barrow-in-Furness, as we would believe today. It’s secondary function was to improve ‘River Lune’ navigation, hence the charges made to other shipping in the area.
First use of Walney’s newly constructed lighthouse, a wooden structure with an oil / paraffin lamp took place in late 1790. It wasn’t long before improvements were made, the first coming only after one year of use in 1791 with the incorporation of a new clockwork ‘revolving’ system. During 1803 disaster struck, the lantern caught fire and the wooden structure was raised to the ground.
It was the year of 1804 that witnessed the greatest change in the lighthouse’s history, when a replacement structure was completed, but this time it was ‘sensibly’ constructed out of stone (shipped across Morecambe Bay from Overton). In 1820 the light itself was changed for a Robert Stephenson (father of Robert Louis Stephenson) design.
The lighthouse we know today was designed by Mr. E. Dawson, an engineer from Whitehaven, Cumbria, and stands at a height of 21m approx’ with accommodation that comprises of two houses, which were converted in the late 19th century, from what was originally one dwelling. The accommodation house/s were built originally as an after thought solely for the purpose of the lighthouse’s first ‘full-time’ keeper.
The next major change came in 1909 when an acetylene gaslight system was installed. During WWII, one of the two private accommodations was ‘temporarily’ converted into an officers-mess as part of the island’s coastal defences. It was during 1953 that a 'manned' electric light and rotation system option became the preference of choice until 2003 when it was updated to an unmanned station.
© 2009 - Chris Linton
SOUTH END NATURE RESERVE
South Walney Nature Reserve, Walney-Island, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Tel: (01229) 471066.
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