Penzance in Cornwall is popular with tourists as the port from which to board the “Scillionian” to the Isles of Scilly; the furthest point west in the United Kingdom to reach by railway; and the magnificent views of St. Michael’s Mount. Few realise that it is the second largest natural and safest port in Cornwall or realise that it has its own small lighthouse.
The first pier (called the Old pier, but now the South pier) was built in 1766. It was extended in 1785 and 1812. In 1817 a Local Pier Act was introduced to light the harbour and in due course a small lighthouse was built on the end of the quay to replace a lantern which had been washed away in a great storm in January of that year.
This lighthouse was first lit in 1818 to warn vessels when there was 10 feet of water in the harbour. A second great storm in 1824 effectively destroyed the lighthouse and after the extension of the south pier in 1855 a new cast iron lighthouse was erected at its seaward end.
The height of this new white painted tower is 10 metres from base to vane. In December 1874 the power supply was changed from oil to gas and in due course changed again to electricity.
There used to be a gallery around the lantern but during the 1950s it was removed and never replaced.
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