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LIGHTHOUSE, a form of building erected to carry a light for the purpose of warning or guidance, especially at sea.

1. Early History.—The earliest lighthouses, of which records exist, were the towers built by the Libyans and Cushites in Lower Egypt, beacon fires being maintained in some of them by the priests. Lesches, a Greek poet (c. 660 B.C.) mentions a lighthouse at Sigeum (now Cape Incihisari) in the Troad. This appears to have been the first light regularly maintained for the guidance of mariners. The famous Pharos1 of Alexandria, built by Sostratus of Cnidus in the reign of Ptolemy II. (283-247 B.C.) was regarded as one of the wonders of the world. The tower, which took its name from that of the small island on which it was built, is said to have been 600 ft. in height, but the evidence in support of this statement is doubtful. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century, but remains are said to have been visible as late as 1350. The name Pharos became the general term for all lighthouses, and the term “pharology” has been used for the science of lighthouse construction.

The tower at Ostia was built by the emperor Claudius (A.D. 50). Other famous Roman lighthouses were those at Ravenna, Pozzuoli and Messina. The ancient Pharos at Dover and that at Boulogne, later known as la Tour d’Ordre, were built by the Romans and were probably the earliest lighthouses erected in western Europe. Both are now demolished.

The light of Cordouan, on a rock in the sea at the mouth of the Gironde, is the earliest example now existing of a wave-swept tower. Earlier towers on the same rock are attributed the first to Louis le Debonnaire (c. A.D. 805) and the second to Edward the Black Prince. The existing structure was begun in 1584 during the reign of Henri II. of France and completed in 1611. The upper part of the beautiful Renaissance building was removed towards the end of the 18th century and replaced by a loftier cylindrical structure rising to a height of 207 ft. above the rock and with the focal plane of the light 196 ft. above high water (fig. 1). Until the 18th century the light exhibited from the tower was from an oak log fire, and subsequently a coal fire was in use for many years. The ancient tower at Corunna, known as the Pillar of Hercules, is supposed to have been a Roman Pharos. The Torre del Capo at Genoa originally stood on the promontory of San Berrique. It was built in 1139 and first used as a lighthouse in 1326. It was rebuilt on its present site in 1643. This beautiful tower rises 236 ft. above the cliff, the light being elevated 384 ft. above sea-level. A lens light was first installed in 1841. The Pharos of Meloria was constructed by the Pisans in 1154 and was several times rebuilt until finally destroyed in 1290. On the abandonment of Meloria by the Pisans, they erected the still existing tower at Leghorn in 1304.

In the 17th and 18th centuries numerous towers, on which were erected braziers or grates containing wood or coal fires, were established in various positions on the coasts of Europe. Among such stations in the United Kingdom were Tynemouth (c. 1608), the Isle of May (1636), St Agnes (1680), St Bees (1718) and the Lizard (1751). The oldest lighthouse in the United States is believed to be the Boston light situated on Little Brewster Island on the south side of the main entrance to Boston Harbour, Mass. It was established in 1716, the present structure dating from 1859. During the American War of Independence the lighthouse suffered many vicissitudes and was successively destroyed and rebuilt three times by the American or British 628 forces. At the third rebuilding in 1783 a stone tower 68 ft. in height was erected, the illuminant consisting of four oil lamps. Other early lighthouse structures on the New England coast were those at Beaver Tail, near the entrance to Newport Harbour (1740), and the Brant at the entrance to Nantucket Harbour (1754). A watch-house and beacon appear to have been erected on Beacon or Lighthouse Island as well as on Point Allerton Hill near Boston, prior to 1673, but these structures would seem to have been in the nature of look-out stations in time of war rather than lighthouses for the guidance of mariners.

2. Lighthouse Structures.—The structures of lighthouses may be divided into two classes, (a) those on rocks, shoals or in other situations exposed to the force of the sea, and (b) the more numerous class of land structures.

Fig. 1.—Cordouan Lighthouse.

Wave-swept Towers.—In determining the design of a lighthouse tower to be erected in a wave-swept position consideration must be given to the physical features of the site and its surroundings. Towers of this description are classified as follows: (1) Masonry and concrete structures; (2) Openwork steel and iron-framed erections on pile or other foundations; (3) Cast iron plated towers; (4) Structures erected on cylinder foundations.

(1) Masonry Towers.—Masonry or concrete towers are generally preferred for erection on wave-swept rocks affording good foundation, and have also been constructed in other situations where adequate foundations have been made by sinking caissons into a soft sea bed. Smeaton’s tower on the Eddystone Rock is the model upon which most later designs of masonry towers have been based, although many improvements in detail have since been made. In situations of great exposure the following requirements in design should be observed: (a) The centre of gravity of the tower structure should be as low as possible. (b) The mass of the structure superimposed at any horizontal section must be sufficient to prevent its displacement by the combined forces of wind and waves without dependence on the adhesion at horizontal joint faces or on the dovetailing of stones introduced as an additional safeguard. (c) The structure should be circular in plan throughout, this form affording the least resistance to wave stroke and wind pressure in any direction. (d) The lower portion of the tower exposed to the direct horizontal stroke of the waves should, for preference, be constructed with vertical face. The upper portion to be either straight with uniform batter or continuously curved in the vertical plane. External projections from the face of the tower, except in the case of a gallery under the lantern, should be avoided, the surface throughout being smooth. (e) The height from sea-level to the top of the tower should be sufficient to avoid the obscuration of the light by broken water or dense spray driving over the lantern. (f) The foundation of the tower should be carried well into the solid rock. (g) The materials of which the tower is built should be of high density and of resistant nature. (h) The stones used in the construction of the tower, at any rate those on the outer face, should be dovetailed or joggled one to the other in order to prevent their being dislodged by the sea during the process of construction and as an additional safeguard of stability. Of late years, cement concrete has been used to a considerable extent for maritime structures, including lighthouses, either alone or faced with masonry.

(2) Openwork Structures.—Many examples of openwork steel and iron lighthouses exist. Some typical examples are described hereafter. This form of design is suitable for situations where the tower has to be carried on a foundation of iron or steel piles driven or screwed into an insecure or sandy bottom, such as on shoals, coral reefs and sand banks or in places where other materials of construction are exceptionally costly and where facility of erection is a desideratum.

(3) Cast iron Towers.—Cast iron plated towers have been erected in many situations where the cost of stone or scarcity of labour would have made the erection of a masonry tower excessively expensive.

(4) Caisson Foundations.—Cylinder or caisson foundations have been used for lighthouse towers in numerous cases where such structures have been erected on sand banks or shoals. A remarkable instance is the Rothersand Tower. Two attempts have been made to sink a caisson in the outer Diamond Shoal off Cape Hatteras on the Atlantic coast of the United States, but these have proved futile.

The following are brief descriptions of the more important wave-swept towers in various parts of the world.

Eddystone (Winstanley’s Tower).—The Eddystone rocks, which lie about 14 m. off Plymouth, are fully exposed to south-west seas. The reef is submerged at high water of spring tides. Four towers have been constructed on the reef. The first lighthouse (fig. 2) was polygonal in plan and highly ornamented with galleries and projections which offered considerable resistance to the sea stroke. The work was begun by Henry Winstanley, a gentleman of Essex, in 1695. In 1698 it was finished to a height of 80 ft. to the wind vane and the light exhibited, but in the following year, in consequence of damage by storms, the tower was increased in diameter from 16 ft. to 24 ft. by the addition of an outer ring of masonry and made solid to a height of 20 ft. above the rock, the tower being raised to nearly 120 ft. The work was completed in the year 1700. The lower part of the structure appears to have been of stone, the upper part and lantern of timber. During the great storm of the 20th of November 1703 the tower was swept away, those in it at the time, including the builder, being drowned.

Eddystone (Rudyerd’s Tower, fig. 3).—This structure was begun in 1706 and completed in 1709. It was a frustum of a cone 22 ft. 8 in. in diameter at the base and 14 ft. 3 in. at the top. The tower was 92 ft. in height to the top of the lantern. The work consisted principally of oak timbers securely bolted and cramped together, the lower part being filled in solid with stone to add weight to the structure. The simplicity of the design and the absence of projections from the outer face rendered the tower very suitable to withstand the onslaught of the waves. The lighthouse was destroyed by fire in 1755.

Eddystone (Smeaton’s Tower, fig. 4).—This famous work, which consisted entirely of stone, was begun in 1756, the light being first exhibited in 1759. John Smeaton was the first engineer to use dovetailed joints for the stones in a lighthouse structure. The stones, which averaged 1 ton in weight, were fastened to each other by means of dovetailed vertical joint faces, oak key wedges, and by oak tree-nails wedged top and bottom, extending vertically from every course into the stones beneath it. During the 19th century the tower was strengthened on two occasions by the addition of heavy wrought iron ties, and the overhanging cornice was reduced in diameter to prevent the waves from lifting the stones from their beds. In 1877, owing partly to the undermining of the rock on which the tower was built and the insufficient height of the structure, 629 the Corporation of Trinity House determined on the erection of a new lighthouse in place of Smeaton’s tower.

Fig. 2. Fig. 3. Fig. 4. Fig. 5.
Lighthouses on the Eddystone.
Fig. 6.—Plan of Entrance Floor, Eddystone Lighthouse.

Eddystone, New Lighthouse (J. N. Douglass).—The site selected for the new tower is 120 ft. S.S.E. from Smeaton’s lighthouse, where a suitable foundation was found, although a considerable section of the lower courses had to be laid below the level of low water. The vertical base is 44 ft. in diameter and 22 ft. in height. The tower (figs. 5 and 6) is a concave elliptic frustum, and is solid, with the exception of a fresh-water tank, to a height of 25 ft. 6 in. above high-water level. The walls above this level vary in thickness from 8 ft. 6 in. to 2 ft. 3 in. under the gallery. All the stones are dovetailed, both horizontally and vertically, on all joint faces, the stones of the foundation course being secured to the rock by Muntz metal bolts. The tower contains 62,133 cub. ft. of granite, weighing 4668 tons. The height of the structure from low water ordinary spring tides to the mean focal plane is 149 ft. and it stands 133 ft. above high water. The lantern is a cylindrical helically framed structure with domed roof. The astragals are of gun-metal and the pedestal of cast iron. The optical apparatus consists of two superposed tiers of refracting lens panels, 12 in each tier of 920 mm. focal distance. The lenses subtend an angle of 92° vertically. The 12 lens panels are arranged in groups of two, thus producing a group flashing light showing 2 flashes of 1½ seconds’ duration every half minute, the apparatus revolving once in 3 minutes. The burners originally fitted in the apparatus were of 6-wick pattern, but these were replaced in 1904 by incandescent oil vapour burners. The intensity of the combined beam of light from the two apparatus is 292,000 candles. At the time of the completion of the lighthouse two bells, weighing 2 tons each and struck by mechanical power, were installed for fog-signalling purposes. Since that date an explosive gun-cotton fog signal has been erected, the bells being removed. At a lower level in the tower are installed 2 21-in. parabolic silvered reflectors with 2-wick burners, throwing a fixed light of 8000 candle-power over a danger known as the Hand Deeps. The work of preparing the foundation was begun on the 17th of July 1878, the foundation stone being laid by the late duke of Edinburgh on the 19th of August 1879. The last stone was laid on the 1st of June 1881, and the light was exhibited for the first time on the 18th of May 1882. The upper portion of Smeaton’s tower, which was removed on completion of the new lighthouse, was re-erected on Plymouth Hoe, where it replaced the old Trinity House sea mark. One of the principal features in the design of the new Eddystone lighthouse tower is the solid vertical base. This construction was much criticized at the time, but experience has proved that heavy seas striking the massive cylindrical structure are immediately broken up and rush round to the opposite side, spray alone ascending to the height of the lantern gallery. On the other hand, the waves striking the old tower at its foundation ran up the surface, which presented a curved face to the waves, and, unimpeded by any projection until arriving at the lantern gallery, were partially broken up by the cornice and then spent themselves in heavy spray over the lantern. The shock to which the cornice of the gallery was exposed was so great that stones were sometimes lifted from their beds. The new Eddystone tower presents another point of dissimilarity from Smeaton’s structure, in that the stones forming the floors consist of single corbels built into the wall and constituting solid portions thereof. In Smeaton’s tower the floors consisted of stone arches, the thrust being taken by the walls of the tower itself, which were strengthened for the purpose by building in chains in the form of hoops (fig. 7). The system of constructing corbelled stone floors was first adopted by R. Stevenson in the Bell Rock lighthouse (fig. 8).

Fig. 7.—Floor, Smeaton’s Eddystone Lighthouse.

Bell Rock Lighthouse (fig. 9).—The Bell Rock, which lies 12 m. off the coast of Forfarshire, is exposed to a considerable extent at low water. The tower is submerged to a depth of about 16 ft. at high water of spring tides. The rock is of hard sandstone. The lighthouse was constructed by Robert Stevenson and is 100 ft. in height, the solid portion being carried to a height of 21 ft. above high water. The work of construction was begun in 1807, and finished in 1810, the light being first exhibited in 1811. The total weight of the tower is 2076 tons. A new lantern and dioptric apparatus were erected on the tower in 1902. The focal plane of the light is elevated 93 ft. above high water.

Fig. 8.—Floor, Stevenson’s Bell Rock Lighthouse.

Skerryvore Lighthouse (fig. 10).—The Skerryvore Rocks, 12 m. off the island of Tyree in Argyllshire, are wholly open to the Atlantic. The work, designed by Alan Stevenson, was begun in 1838 and finished in 1844. The tower, the profile of which is a hyperbolic curve, is 138 ft. high to the lantern base, 42 ft. diameter at the base, and 16 ft. at the top. Its weight is 4308 tons. The structure contains 9 rooms in addition to the lantern chamber. It is solid to a height of 26 ft. above the base.

Heaux de Brehat Lighthouse.—The reef on which this tower is constructed lies off the coast of Brittany, and is submerged at high tide. The work was carried out in 1836-1839. The tower is circular in plan with a gallery at a height of about 70 ft. above the base. The tower is 156 ft. in height from base to lantern floor.

Haut Banc du Nord Lighthouse.—This tower is placed on a reef at the north-west extremity of the Île de Ré, and was constructed in 1849-1853. It is 86 ft. in height to the lantern floor.

Fig. 9.—Bell Rock. Fig. 10.—Skerryvore. Fig. 11.—Bishop Rock. Fig. 12.—Bishop Rock.

Bishop Rock Lighthouse.—The lighthouse on the Bishop Rock, which is the westernmost landfall rock of the Scilly Islands, occupies perhaps a more exposed situation than any other in the world. 630 The first lighthouse erected there was begun in 1847 under the direction of N. Douglass. The tower consisted of a cast and wrought iron openwork structure having the columns deeply sunk into the rock. On the 5th of February 1850, when the tower was ready for the erection of the lantern and illuminating apparatus, a heavy storm swept away the whole of the structure. This tower was designed for an elevation of 94 ft. to the focal plane. In 1851 the erection of a granite tower, from the designs of James Walker, was begun; the light was first exhibited in 1858. The tower (fig. 11) had an elevation to the focal plane of 110 ft., the lower 14 courses being arranged in steps, or offsets, to break up the force of the waves. This structure also proved insufficient to withstand the very heavy seas to which it was exposed. Soon after its completion the 5-cwt. fog bell, fixed to the lantern gallery 100 ft. above high-water mark, was washed away, together with the flagstaff and ladder. The tower vibrated considerably during storms, and it was found that some of the external blocks of granite had been split by the excessive stress to which they had been exposed. In 1874 the tower was strengthened by bolting continuous iron ties to the internal surfaces of the walls. In 1881, when further signs of damage appeared, it was determined to remove the upper storey or service room of the lighthouse, and to case the structure from its base upwards with granite blocks securely dovetailed to each other and to the existing work. At the same time it was considered advisable to increase the elevation of the light, and place the mean focal plane of the new apparatus at an elevation of 146 ft. above high-water mark. The work was begun in 1883, and the new apparatus was first illuminated on the 25th of October 1887. During the operation of heightening the tower it was necessary to install a temporary light, consisting of a cylindrical lightship lantern with catoptric apparatus; this was raised from time to time in advance of the structure as the work proceeded. The additional masonry built into the tower amounts approximately to 3220 tons. Profiting by the experience gained after the construction of the new Eddystone tower, Sir J. N. Douglass decided to build the lower portion of the improved Bishop Rock tower in the form of a cylinder, but with considerably increased elevation (figs. 12 and 13). The cylindrical base is 40 ft. in diameter, and rises to 25 ft. above high-water mark. The lantern is cylindrical and helically framed, 14 ft. in diameter, the glazing being 15 ft. in height. The optical apparatus consists of two superposed tiers of lenses of 1330 mm. focal distance, the lenses subtending a horizontal angle of 36° and a vertical angle of 80°. The apparatus consists of 5 groups of lenses each group producing a double flashing light of one minute period, the whole apparatus revolving once in five minutes. The maximum aggregate candle-power of the flash is 622,000 candles. A gun-cotton explosive fog signal is attached to the lantern. The cost of the various lighthouses on the Bishop Rock has been as follows:

1. Cast iron lighthouse £12,500 0 0
2. Granite lighthouse 34,559 18 9
3. Improved granite lighthouse 64,889 0 0

The Smalls Lighthouse.—A lighthouse has existed on the Smalls rock, 18½ m. off Milford Haven, since 1776, when an oak pile structure was erected by Henry Whiteside. The existing structure, after the model of the second lighthouse on the Bishop Rock, was erected in 1856-1861 by the Trinity House and is 114 ft. in height from the foundation to the lantern floor. A new optical apparatus was installed in 1907.

Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse.—The tower, which is 89 ft. in height, is built of granite upon a reef off Boston Harbor, Mass., and occupied five years in construction, being completed in 1860 at a cost of £62,500. The rock just bares at low water. The stones are dovetailed vertically but not on their horizontal beds in the case of the lower 40 ft. or solid portion of the tower, bonding bolts being substituted for the horizontal dovetailed joints used in the case of the Wolf and other English towers. The shape of the tower is a conical frustum.

Wolf Rock Lighthouse.—This much exposed rock lies midway between the Scilly Isles and the Lizard Point, and is submerged to the depth of about 6 ft. at high water. The tower was erected in 1862-1869 (fig. 14). It is 116 ft. 6 in. high, 41 ft. 8 in. diameter at the base, decreasing to 17 ft. at the top. The walls are 7 ft. 9½ in. thick, decreasing to 2 ft. 3 in. The shaft is a concave elliptic frustum, and contains 3296 tons. The lower part of the tower has projecting scarcements in order to break up the sea.

Dhu Heartach Rock Lighthouse.—The Dhu Heartach Rock, 35 ft. above high water, is 14 m. from the island of Mull, which is the nearest shore. The maximum diameter of the tower (fig. 15), which is of parabolic outline, is 36 ft., decreasing to 16 ft.; the shaft is solid for 32 ft. above the rock; the masonry weighs 3115 tons, of which 1810 are contained in the solid part. This tower occupied six years in erection, and was completed in 1872.

Great Basses Lighthouse, Ceylon.—The Great Basses lighthouse lies 6 m. from the nearest land. The cylindrical base is 32 ft. in diameter, above which is a tower 67 ft. 5 in. high and 23 ft. in diameter. The walls vary in thickness from 5 ft. to 2 ft. The tower, including the base, contains about 2768 tons. The work was finished in three years, 1870-1873.

Spectacle Reef Lighthouse, Lake Huron.—This is a structure similar to that on Minot’s ledge, standing on a limestone reef at the northern end of the lake. The tower (fig. 16) was constructed with a view to withstanding the effects of ice massing in solid fields thousands of acres in extent and travelling at considerable velocity. The tower is in shape the frustum of a cone, 32 ft. in diameter at the base and 93 ft. in height to the coping of the gallery. The focal plane is at a level of 97 ft. above the base. The lower 34 ft. of the tower is solid. The work was completed in 1874, having occupied four years. The cost amounted to approximately £78,000.

Chicken Rock Lighthouse.—The Chicken Rock lies 1 m. off the Calf of Man. The curve of the tower, which is 123 ft. 4 in. high, is hyperbolic, the diameter varying from 42 ft. to 16 ft. The tower is submerged 5 ft. at high-water springs. The solid part is 32 ft. 6 in. in height, weighing 2050 tons, the whole weight of the tower being 3557 tons. The walls decrease from 9 ft. 3 in. to 2 ft. 3 in. in thickness. The work was begun in 1869 and completed in 1874.

Ar’men Lighthouse.—The masonry tower, erected by the French Lighthouse Service, on the Ar’men Rock off the western extremity of the Île de Sein, Finistère, occupied fifteen years in construction (1867-1881). The rock is of small area, barely uncovered at low water, and it was therefore found impossible to construct a tower having a base diameter greater than 24 ft. The focal plane of the light is 94 ft. above high water (fig. 17).

St George’s Reef Lighthouse, California.—This structure consists of a square pyramidal stone tower rising from the easterly end of an oval masonry pier, built on a rock to a height of 60 ft. above the water. The focal plane is at an elevation of 146 ft. above high water. The site is an exceedingly dangerous one, and the work, which was completed in 1891, cost approximately £144,000.

Rattray Head Lighthouse.—This lighthouse was constructed between the years 1892 and 1895 by the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners upon the Ron Rock, lying about one-fifth of a mile off Rattray Head, Aberdeenshire. The focal plane is 91 ft. above high water, the building being approximately 113 ft. in height. In the tower there is a fog-horn worked by compressed air.

Fastnet Lighthouse.—In the year 1895 it was reported to the Irish Lights Commissioners that the then existing lighthouse on the Fastnet Rock off the south-west coast of Ireland, which was completed in 1854 and consisted of a circular cast iron tower 86 ft. in height on the summit of the rock, was considerably undermined. It was subsequently determined to proceed with the erection of a granite structure of increased height and founded upon a sound ledge of rock on one side of the higher, but now considerably undermined. 631 portion of the reef. This lighthouse tower has its foundation laid near high-water level. The focal plane is at a level of 158 ft. above high-water mark. The cost of the structure, which was commenced in 1899 and completed in 1904, was £79,000.

Fig. 13.—Bishop Rock Lighthouse.

Beachy Head Lighthouse.—A lighthouse has been erected upon the foreshore at the foot of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, to replace the old structure on the cliff having an elevation of 284 ft. above high-water mark. Experience proved that the light of the latter was frequently obscured by banks of mist or fog, while at the lower level the transparency of the atmosphere was considerably less impaired. The Trinity House therefore decided in the year 1899 to proceed with the construction of a granite tower upon the foreshore at a distance of some 570 ft. from the base of the cliff (fig. 18). The foreshore at this point consists of chalk, and the selected site just bares at low water ordinary spring tides. The foundation course was laid at a depth of 10 ft. below the surface, the area being excavated within a coffer-dam. The tower, which is 47 ft. in diameter at the base, has an elevation to the focal plane above high water of 103 ft., or a total height from foundation course to gallery coping of 123 ft. 6 in. The lower or solid portion of the tower has its face stones constructed in vertical offsets or steps in a similar manner to that adopted at the Wolf Rock and elsewhere. The tower is constructed with a facing of granite, all the stones being dovetailed in the usual manner. The hearting of the base is largely composed of concrete. The work was completed in 1902 and cost £56,000.

Maplin Lighthouse.—The screw pile lighthouse erected on the Maplin Sand in the estuary of the river Thames in 1838 is the earliest of its kind and served as a model for numerous similar structures in various parts of the world. The piles are nine in number, 5 in. diameter of solid wrought iron with screws 4 ft. diameter (fig. 19).

Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, Florida.—This iron structure, which was begun in 1875 and completed in 1878, stands on the extreme northern point of the Florida reefs. The height of the tower, which is founded on wrought iron piles driven 10 ft. into the coral rock, is 110 ft. from high water to focal plane. The iron openwork pyramidal structure encloses a plated iron dwelling for the accommodation of the keepers. The cost of construction amounted to £32,600.

Alligator Reef Lighthouse, Florida.—This tower is one of the finest iron sea-swept lighthouse structures in the world. It consists of a pyramidal iron framework 135 ft. 6 in. in height, standing on the Florida Reef in 5 ft. of water. The cost of the structure, which is similar to the Fowey Rocks tower, was £37,000.

American Shoal Lighthouse, Florida.—This tower (fig. 20) is typical of the openwork pile structures on the Florida reefs, and was completed in 1880. The focal plane of the light is at an elevation of 109 ft. above high water.

Wolf Trap Lighthouse.—This building was erected during the years 1893 and 1894 on Wolf Trap Spit in Chesapeake Bay, near the site of the old openwork structure which was swept away by ice early in 1893. The new tower is formed upon a cast iron caisson 30 ft. in diameter sunk 18 ft. into the sandy bottom. The depth of water on the shoal is 16 ft. at low water. The caisson was filled with concrete, and is surmounted by a brick superstructure 52 ft. in height from low water to the focal plane of the light. A somewhat similar structure was erected in 1885-1887 on the Fourteen Foot Bank in Delaware Bay, at a cost of £24,700. The foundation in this case was, however, shifting sand, and the caisson was carried to a greater depth.

Rothersand Lighthouse.—This lighthouse, off the entrance to the river Weser (Germany), is a structure of great interest on account of the difficulties met with in its construction. The tower had to be founded on a bottom of shifting sand 20 ft. below low water and in a very exposed situation. Work was begun in May 1881, when attempts were made to sink an iron caisson under pneumatic pressure. Owing to the enormous scour removing the sand from one side of the caisson it tilted to an alarming angle, but eventually it was sunk to a level of 70 ft. below low-water mark. In October of the same year the whole structure collapsed. Another attempt, made in May 1883, to sink a caisson of bi-convex shape in plan 47 ft. long, 37 ft. wide and 62 ft. in height, met with success, and after many difficulties the structure was sunk to a depth of 73 ft. below low water, the sides being raised by the addition of iron plating as the caisson sank. The sand was removed from the interior by suction. Around the caisson foundation were placed 74,000 cub. yds. of mattress work and stones, the interior being filled with concrete. Towards the end of 1885 the lighthouse was completed, at a total cost, including the first attempt, of over £65,000. The tower is an iron structure in the shape of a concave elliptic frustum, its base being founded upon the caisson foundation at about half-tide level (fig. 21). The light is electric, the current being supplied by cable from the shore. The focal plane is 78 ft. above high water or 109 ft. from the sand level. The total height from the foundation of the caisson to the top of the vane is 185 ft.

Other famous wave-swept towers are those at Haulbowline Rock (Carlingford Lough, Ireland, 1823); Horsburgh (Singapore, 1851); Bayes d’Olonne (Bay of Biscay, 1861); Hanois (Alderney, 1862); Daedalus Reef, iron tower (Red Sea, 1863); Alguada Reef (Bay of Bengal, 1865); Longships (Land’s End, 1872); the Prongs (Bombay, 1874); Little Basses (Ceylon, 1878); the Graves (Boston, U.S.A., 1905); Jument d’Ouessant (France, 1907); and Roche Bonne (France, building 1910).


Jointing of Stones in Rock Towers.—Various methods of jointing the stones in rock towers are shown in figs. 6 and 22. The great distinction between the towers built by successive engineers to the Trinity House and other rock lighthouses is that, in the former the stones of each course are dovetailed together both laterally and vertically and are not connected by metal or wooden pins and wedges and dowled as in most other cases. This dovetail method was first adopted at the Hanois Rock at the suggestion of Nicholas Douglass. On the upper face, one side and at one end of each block is a dovetailed projection. On the under face and the other side and end, corresponding dovetailed recesses are formed with just sufficient clearance for the raised bands to enter in setting (fig. 23). The cement mortar in the joint formed between the faces so locks the dovetails that the stones cannot be separated without breaking (fig. 24).

Table I.—Comparative Cost of Exposed Rock Towers.

Name of Structure. Total Cost. Cub. ft. Cost per
cub. ft. of
Eddystone, Smeaton (1759) £40,000 0 0 13,343 £2 9 11½
Bell Rock, Firth of Forth (1811) 55,619 12 1 28,530 1 19 0 
Skerryvore, west coast of Scotland (1844) 72,200 11 6 58,580 1 4
Bishop Rock, first granite tower (1858) 34,559 18 9 35,209 0 19
Smalls, Bristol Channel (1861) 50,124 11 8 46,386 1 1
Hanois, Alderney (1862) 25,296 0 0 24,542 1 0
Wolf Rock, Land’s End (1869) 62,726 0 0 59,070 1 1 3 
Dhu Heartach, west coast of Scotland (1872) 72,584 9 7 42,050 1 14 6 
Longships, Land’s End (1872) 43,869 8 11 47,610 0 18 5 
Eddystone, Douglass (1882) 59,255 0 0 65,198 0 18 2 
Bishop Rock, strengthening and part reconstruction (1887) 64,889 0 0 45,080 1 8 9 
Great Basses, Ceylon (1873) 63,560 0 0 47,819 1 6 7 
Minot’s Ledge, Boston, Mass. (1860) 62,500 0 0 36,322 1 17 2 
Spectacle Reef, Lake Huron (1874) 78,125 0 0 42,742 1 16 2 
Ar’men, France (1881) 37,692 0 0 32,400 1 3 3 
Fastnet, Ireland (1904) 79,000 0 0 62,600 1 5

Effect of Waves.—The wave stroke to which rock lighthouse towers are exposed is often considerable. At the Dhu Heartach, during the erection of the tower, 14 joggled stones, each of 2 tons weight, were washed away after having been set in cement at a height of 37 ft. above high water, and similar damage was done during the construction of the Bell Rock tower. The effect of waves on the Bishop Rock and Eddystone towers has been noted above.

Land Structures for Lighthouses.—The erection of lighthouse towers and other buildings on land presents no difficulties of construction, and such buildings are of ordinary architectural character. It will therefore be unnecessary to refer to them in detail. Attention is directed to the Phare d’Eckmühl at Penmarc’h (Finistère), completed in 1897. The cost of this magnificent structure, 207 ft. in height from the ground, was largely defrayed by a bequest of £12,000 left by the marquis de Blocqueville. It is constructed entirely of granite, and is octagonal in plan. The total cost of the tower and other lighthouse buildings amounted to £16,000.

Fig. 19.—Maplin Pile Lighthouse.

The tower at Île Vierge (Finistère), completed in 1902, has an elevation of 247 ft. from the ground level to the focal plane, and is probably the highest structure of its kind in the world.

The brick tower, constructed at Spurn Point, at the entrance to the Humber and completed in 1895, replaced an earlier structure erected by Smeaton at the end of the 18th century. The existing tower is constructed on a foundation consisting of concrete cylinders sunk in the shingle beach. The focal plane of the light is elevated 120 ft. above high water.

Besides being built of stone or brick, land towers are frequently 633 constructed of cast iron plates or open steel-work with a view to economy. Fine examples of the former are to be found in many British colonies and elsewhere, that on Dassen Island (Cape of Good Hope), 105 ft. in height to the focal plane, being typical (fig. 25). Many openwork structures up to 200 ft. in height have been built. Recent examples are the towers erected at Cape San Thomé (Brazil) in 1882, 148 ft. in height (fig. 26), Mocha (Red Sea) in 1903, 180 ft. and Sanganeb Reef (Red Sea) 1906, 165 ft. in height to the focal plane.

Fig. 20.—American Shoal Lighthouse, Florida.

3. Optical Apparatus.—Optical apparatus in lighthouses is required for one or other of three distinct purposes: (1) the concentration of the rays derived from the light source into a belt of light distributed evenly around the horizon, condensation in the vertical plane only being employed; (2) the concentration of the rays both vertically and horizontally into a pencil or cone of small angle directed towards the horizon and caused to revolve about the light source as a centre, thus producing a flashing light; and (3) the condensation of the light in the vertical plane and also in the horizontal plane in such a manner as to concentrate the rays over a limited azimuth only.

Apparatus falling under the first category produce a fixed light, and further distinction can be provided in this class by mechanical means of occultation, resulting in the production of an occulting or intermittent light. Apparatus included in the second class are usually employed to produce flashing lights, but sometimes the dual condensation is taken advantage of to produce a fixed pencil of rays thrown towards the horizon for the purpose of marking an isolated danger or the limits of a narrow channel. Such lights are best described by the French term feux de direction. Catoptric apparatus, by which dual condensation is produced, are moreover sometimes used for fixed lights, the light pencils overlapping each other in azimuth. Apparatus of the third class are employed for sector lights or those throwing a beam of light over a wider azimuth than can be conveniently covered by an apparatus of the second class, and for reinforcing the beam of light emergent from a fixed apparatus in any required direction.

The above classification of apparatus depends on the resultant effect of the optical elements. Another classification divides the instruments themselves into three classes: (a) catoptric, (b) dioptric and (c) catadioptric.

Catoptric apparatus are those by which the light rays are reflected only from the faces of incidence, such as silvered mirrors of plane, spherical, parabolic or other profile. Dioptric elements are those in which the light rays pass through the optical glass, suffering refraction at the incident and emergent faces (fig. 27). Catadioptric elements are combined of the two foregoing and consist of optical prisms in which the light rays suffer refraction at the incident face, total internal reflexion at a second face and again refraction on emergence at the third face (fig. 28).

Fig. 21.—Rothersand Lighthouse.

The object of these several forms of optical apparatus is not only to produce characteristics or distinctions in lights to enable them to be readily recognized by mariners, but to utilize the light rays in directions above and below the horizontal plane, and also, in the case of revolving or flashing lights, in azimuths not requiring to be illuminated for strengthening the beam in the direction of the mariner. It will be seen that the effective condensation in flashing lights is very much greater than in fixed belts, thus enabling higher intensities to be obtained by the use of flashing lights than with fixed apparatus.

Catoptric System.—Parabolic reflectors, consisting of small facets of silvered glass set in plaster of Paris, were first used about the year 1763 in some of the Mersey lights by Mr Hutchinson, then dock master at Liverpool (fig. 29). Spherical metallic reflectors were introduced in France in 1781, followed by parabolic reflectors on silvered copper in 1790 in England and France, and in Scotland in 1803. The earlier lights were of fixed type, a number of reflectors being arranged on a frame or stand in such a manner that the pencils of emergent rays overlapped and thus illuminated the whole horizon continuously. In 1783 the first revolving light was erected at Marstrand in Sweden. Similar apparatus were installed at Cordouan (1790), Flamborough Head (1806) and at the Bell Rock (1811). To produce a revolving or flashing light the reflectors were fixed on a revolving carriage having several faces. Three or more reflectors in a face were set with their axes parallel.

A type of parabolic reflector now in use is shown in fig. 30. The sizes in general use vary from 21 in. to 24 in. diameter. These instruments are still largely used for light-vessel illumination, and a few important land lights are at the present time of catoptric type, including those at St Agnes (Scilly Islands), Cromer and St Anthony (Falmouth).

Fig. 22.—Courses of various Lighthouse Towers.
Fig. 23.—Perspective drawing of Dovetailed
Stone (Wolf Rock).
Fig. 24.—Section
of Dovetail.

Dioptric System.—The first adaptation of dioptric lenses to lighthouses is probably due to T. Rogers, who used lenses at one of the Portland lighthouses between 1786 and 1790. Subsequently lenses by the same maker were used at Howth, Waterford and the North Foreland. Count Buffon had in 1748 proposed to grind out of a solid piece of glass a lens in steps or concentric zones in order to reduce the thickness to a minimum (fig. 31). Condorcet in 1773 and Sir D. Brewster in 1811 designed built-up lenses consisting of stepped annular rings. Neither of these proposals, however, was intended to apply to lighthouse purposes. In 1822 Augustin Fresnel constructed a built-up annular lens in which the centres of curvature of the different rings receded from the axis according to their distances from the centre, so as practically to eliminate spherical aberration; the only spherical surface being the small central part or “bull’s eye” (fig. 32). These lenses were intended for revolving lights only. Fresnel next produced his cylindric refractor or lens belt, consisting 634 of a zone of glass generated by the revolution round a vertical axis of a medial section of the annular lens (fig. 33). The lens belt condensed and parallelized the light rays in the vertical plane only, while the annular lens does so in every plane. The first revolving light constructed from Fresnel’s designs was erected at the Cordouan lighthouse in 1823. It consisted of 8 panels of annular lenses placed round the lamp at a focal distance of 920 mm. To utilize the light, which would otherwise escape above the lenses, Fresnel introduced a series of 8 plain silvered mirrors, on which the light was thrown by a system of lenses. At a subsequent period mirrors were also placed in the lower part of the optic. The apparatus was revolved by clockwork. This optic embodied the first combination of dioptric and catoptric elements in one design (fig. 34). In the following year Fresnel designed a dioptric lens with catoptric mirrors for fixed light, which was the first of its kind installed in a lighthouse. It was erected at the Chassiron lighthouse in 1827 (fig. 35). This combination is geometrically perfect, but not so practically on account of the great loss of light entailed by metallic reflection which is at least 25% greater than the system described under. Before his death in 1827 Fresnel devised his totally reflecting or catadioptric prisms to take the place of the silvered reflectors previously used above and below the lens elements (fig. 28). The ray Fi falling on the prismoidal ring ABC is refracted in the direction i r and meeting the face AB at an angle of incidence greater than the critical, is totally reflected in the direction r e emerging after second refraction in a horizontal direction. Fresnel devised these prisms for use in fixed light apparatus, but the principle was, at a later date, also applied to flashing lights, in the first instance by T. Stevenson. Both the dioptric lens and catadioptric prism invented by Fresnel are still in general use, the mathematical calculations of the great French designer still forming the basis upon which lighthouse opticians work.

Fig. 25.—Dassen Island
Lighthouse (cast iron).
Fig. 26.—Cape San Thomé
Fig. 27.—Dioptric Prism. Fig. 28.—Catadioptric or
Reflecting Prism.

Fresnel also designed a form of fixed and flashing light in which the distinction of a fixed light, varied by flashes, was produced by placing panels of straight refracting prisms in a vertical position on a revolving carriage outside the fixed light apparatus. The revolution of the upright prisms periodically increased the power of the beam, by condensation of the rays emergent from the fixed apparatus, in the horizontal plane.

The lens segments in Fresnel’s early apparatus were of polygonal form instead of cylindrical, but subsequently manufacturers succeeded in grinding glass in cylindrical rings of the form now used. The first apparatus of this description was made by Messrs Cookson of Newcastle in 1836 at the suggestion of Alan Stevenson and erected at Inchkeith.

In 1825 the French Commission des Phares decided upon the exclusive use of lenticular apparatus in its service. The Scottish Lighthouse Board followed with the Inchkeith revolving apparatus in 1835 and the Isle of May fixed optic in 1836. In the latter instrument Alan Stevenson introduced helical frames for holding the glass prisms in place, thus avoiding complete obstruction of the light rays in any azimuth. The first dioptric light erected by the Trinity House was that formerly at Start Point in Devonshire, constructed in 1836. Catadioptric or reflecting prisms for revolving lights were not used until 1850, when Alan Stevenson designed them for the North Ronaldshay lighthouse.


Dioptric Mirror.—The next important improvement in lighthouse optical work was the invention of the dioptric spherical mirror by Mr (afterwards Sir) J. T. Chance in 1862. The zones or prisms are generated round a vertical axis and divided into segments. This form of mirror is still in general use (figs. 36 and 37).

Fig. 29.—Early Reflector and Lamp (1763). Fig. 30.—Modern
Parabolic Reflector.

Azimuthal Condensing Prisms.—Previous to 1850 all apparatus were designed to emit light of equal power in every azimuth either constantly or periodically. The only exception was where a light was situated on a stretch of coast where a mirror could be placed behind the flame to utilize the rays, which would otherwise pass landward, and reflect them back, passing through the flame and lens in a seaward direction. In order to increase the intensity of lights in certain azimuths T. Stevenson devised his azimuthal condensing prisms which, in various forms and methods of application, have been largely used for the purpose of strengthening the light rays in required directions as, for instance, where coloured sectors are provided. Applications of this system will be referred to subsequently.

Optical Glass for Lighthouses.—In the early days of lens lights the only glass used for the prisms was made in France at the St Gobain and Premontré works, which have long been celebrated for the high quality of optical glass produced. The early dioptric lights erected in the United Kingdom, some 13 in all, were made by Messrs Cookson of South Shields, who were instructed by Léonor Fresnel, the brother of Augustin. At first they tried to mould the lens and then to grind it out of one thick sheet of glass. The successors of the Cookson firm abandoned the manufacture of lenses in 1845, and the firm of Letourneau & Lepaute of Paris again became the monopolists. In 1850 Messrs Chance Bros. & Co. of Birmingham began the manufacture of optical glass, assisted by M. Tabouret, a French expert who had been a colleague of Augustin Fresnel himself. The first light made by the firm was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, since when numerous dioptric apparatus have been constructed by Messrs Chance, who are, at this time, the only manufacturers of lighthouse glass in the United Kingdom. Most of the glass used for apparatus constructed in France is manufactured at St Gobain. Some of the glass used by German constructors is made at Rathenow in Prussia and Goslar in the Harz.

The glass generally employed for lighthouse optics has for its refractive index a mean value of µ = 1.51, the corresponding critical angle being 41° 30′. Messrs Chance have used dense flint glass for the upper and lower refracting rings of high angle lenses and for dioptric mirrors in certain cases. This glass has a value of µ = l.62 with critical angle 38° 5′.

Fig. 31.
Buffon’s Lens.
Fig. 32.
Fresnel’s Annular Lens.
Fig. 33.
Fresnel’s Lens Belt.
Fig. 34.—Fresnel’s Revolving Apparatus at Cordouan Lighthouse.

Occulting Lights.—During the last 25 years of the 19th century the disadvantages of fixed lights became more and more apparent. At the present day the practice of installing such, except occasionally in the case of the smaller and less important of harbour or river lights, has practically ceased. The necessity for providing a distinctive characteristic for every light when possible has led to the conversion of many of the fixed-light apparatus of earlier years into occulting lights, and often to their supersession by more modern and powerful flashing apparatus. An occulting apparatus in general use consists of a cylindrical screen, fitting over the burner, rapidly lowered and raised by means of a cam-wheel at stated intervals. The cam-wheel is actuated by means of a weight or spring clock. Varying characteristics may be procured by means of such a contrivance—single, double, triple or other systems of occultation. The eclipses or periods of darkness bear much the same relation to the times of illumination as do the flashes to the eclipses in a revolving or flashing light. In the case of a first-order fixed light the cost of conversion to an occulting characteristic does not exceed £250 to £300. With apparatus illuminated by gas the occultations may be produced by successively raising and lowering the gas at stated intervals. Another form of occulting mechanism employed consists of a series of vertical screens mounted on a carriage and revolving round the burner. The carriage is rotated on rollers or ball bearings or carried upon a small mercury float. The usual driving mechanism employed is a spring clock. “Otter” screens are used in cases when it is desired to produce different periods of occultations in two or more positions in azimuth in order to differentiate sectors marking shoals, &c. The screens are of sheet metal blacked and arranged vertically, some what in the manner of the laths of a venetian blind, and operated by mechanical means.

Leading Lights.—In the case of lights designed to act as a lead through a narrow channel or as direction lights, it is undesirable to employ a flashing apparatus. Fixed-light optics are employed to meet such cases, and are generally fitted with occulting mechanism. A typical apparatus of this description is that at Gage Roads, Fremantle, West Australia (fig. 38). The occulting bright light covers the fairway, and is flanked by sectors of occulting red and green light marking dangers and intensified by vertical condensing prisms. A good example of a holophotal direction light was exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition, and afterwards erected at Suzac lighthouse (France). The light consists of an annular lens 500 mm. focal distance, of 180° horizontal angle and 157° vertical, with a mirror of 180° at the back. The lens throws a red beam of about 4½° amplitude in azimuth, and 50,000 candle-power over a narrow channel. The illuminant is an incandescent petroleum vapour burner. Holophotal direction lenses of this type can only be applied where the sector to be marked is of comparatively small angle. Silvered metallic mirrors of parabolic form are also used for the purpose. The use of single direction lights frequently renders the construction of separate towers for leading lights unnecessary.

If two distinct lights are employed to indicate the line of navigation through a channel or between dangers they must be sufficiently far apart to afford a good lead, the front or seaward light being situated at a lower elevation than the rear or landward one.

Coloured Lights.—Colour is used as seldom as possible as a distinction, entailing as it does a considerable reduction in the power of the light. It is necessary in some instances for differentiating sectors over dangers and for harbour lighting purposes. The use of coloured lights as alternating flashes for lighthouse lights is not to be commended, on account of the unequal absorption of the coloured 636 and bright rays by the atmosphere. When such distinction has been employed, as in the Wolf Rock apparatus, the red and white beams can be approximately equalized in initial intensity by constructing the lens and prism panels for the red light of larger angle than those for the white beams. Owing to the absorption by the red colouring, the power of a red beam is only 40% of the intensity of the corresponding white light. The corresponding intensity of green light is 25%. When red or green sectors are employed they should invariably be reinforced by mirrors, azimuthal condensing prisms, or other means to raise the coloured beam to approximately the same intensity as the white light. With the introduction of group-flashing characteristics the necessity for using colour as a means of distinction disappeared.

Fig. 35.—Fixed Apparatus at Chassiron Lighthouse (1827).
Fig. 36.—Vertical Section. Prism of Dioptric
Spherical Mirror.

High-Angle Vertical Lenses.—Messrs Chance of Birmingham have manufactured lenses having 97° of vertical amplitude, but this result was only attained by using dense flint glass of high refractive index for the upper and lower elements. It is doubtful, however, whether the use of refracting elements for a greater angle than 80° vertically is attended by any material corresponding advantage.

Fig. 37.—Chance’s Dioptric Spherical Mirror.

Group Flashing Lights.—One of the most useful distinctions consists in the grouping of two or more flashes separated by short intervals of darkness, the group being succeeded by a longer eclipse. Thus two, three or more flashes of, say, half second duration or less follow each other at intervals of about 2 seconds and are succeeded by an eclipse of, say, 10 seconds, the sequence being completed in a period of, say, 15 seconds. In 1874 Dr John Hopkinson introduced the very valuable improvement of dividing the lenses of a dioptric revolving light with the panels of reflecting prisms above and below them, setting them at an angle to produce the group-flashing characteristic. The first apparatus of this type constructed were those now in use at Tampico, Mexico and the Little Basses lighthouse, Ceylon (double flashing). The Casquets apparatus (triple flashing) was installed in 1877. A group-flashing catoptric light had, however, been exhibited from the “Royal Sovereign” light-vessel in 1875. A sectional plan of the quadruple-flashing first order apparatus at Pendeen in Cornwall is shown in fig. 39; and fig. 55 (Plate 1.) illustrates a double flashing first order light at Pachena Point in British Columbia. Hopkinson’s system has been very extensively used, most of the group-flashing lights shown in the accompanying tables, being designed upon the general lines he introduced. A modification of the system consists in grouping two or more lenses together separated by equal angles, and filling the remaining angle in azimuth by a reinforcing mirror or screen. A group-flashing distinction was proposed for gas lights by J. R. Wigham of Dublin, who obtained it in the case of a revolving apparatus by alternately raising and lowering the flame. The first apparatus in which this method was employed was erected at Galley Head, Co. Cork (1878). At this lighthouse 4 of Wigham’s large gas burners with four tiers of first-order revolving lenses, eight in each tier, were adopted. By successive lowering and raising of the gas flame at the focus of each tier of lenses he produced the group-flashing distinction. The light showed, instead of one prolonged flash at intervals of one minute, as would be produced by the apparatus in the absence of a gas occulter, a group of short flashes varying in number between six and seven. The uncertainty, however, in the number of flashes contained in each group is found to be an objection to the arrangement. This device was adopted at other gas-illuminated stations in Ireland at subsequent dates. The quadriform apparatus and gas installation at Galley Head were superseded in 1907 by a first order bi-form apparatus with incandescent oil vapour burner showing five flashes every 20 seconds.

Fig. 38.—Gage Roads Direction Light.
Fig. 39.—Pendeen Apparatus. Plan at Focal Plane.

Flashing Lights indicating Numbers.—Captain F. A. Mahan, late engineer secretary to the United States Lighthouse Board, devised for that service a system of flashing lights to indicate certain numbers. The apparatus installed at Minot’s Ledge lighthouse near Boston Harbour, Massachusetts, has a flash indicating the number 143, thus: - ---- ---, the dashes indicating short flashes. Each group is separated by a longer period of darkness than that between successive members of a group. The flashes in a group indicating a figure are about 1½ seconds apart, the groups being 3 seconds apart, an interval of 16 seconds’ darkness occurring between each repetition. Thus the number is repeated every half minute. Two examples of this system were exhibited by the United States Lighthouse Board at the Chicago Exhibition in 1893, viz. the second-order apparatus just mentioned and a similar light of the first order for Cape Charles on the Virginian coast. The lenses are arranged in a somewhat 637 similar manner to an ordinary group-flashing light, the groups of lenses being placed on one side of the optic, while the other is provided with a catadioptric mirror. This system of numerical flashing for lighthouses has been frequently proposed in various forms, notably by Lord Kelvin. The installation of the lights described is, however, the first practical application of the system to large and important coast lights. The great cost involved in the alteration of the lights of any country to comply with the requirements of a numerical system is one of the objections to its general adoption.

Plate I.


Plate II.

Fig. 40.—Sule Skerry Apparatus.

Hyper-radial Apparatus.—In 1885 Messrs Barbier of Paris constructed the first hyper-radial apparatus (1330 mm. focal distance) to the design of Messrs D. and C. Stevenson. This had a height of 1812 mm. It was tested during the South Foreland experiments in comparison with other lenses, and found to give excellent results with burners of large focal diameter. Apparatus of similar focal distance (1330 mm.) were subsequently established at Round Island, Bishop Rock, and Spurn Point in England, Fair Isle and Sule Skerry (fig. 40) in Scotland, Bull Rock and Tory Island in Ireland, Cape d’Antifer in France, Pei Yu-shan in China and a lighthouse in Brazil.

The light erected in 1907 at Cape Race, Newfoundland, is a fine example of a four-sided hyper-radial apparatus mounted on a mercury float. The total weight of the revolving part of the light amounts to 7 tons, while the motive clock weight required to rotate this large mass at a speed of two complete revolutions a minute is only 8 cwt. and the weight of mercury required for flotation 950 ℔. A similar apparatus was placed at Manora Point, Karachi, India, in 1908 (fig. 41).

The introduction of incandescent and other burners of focal compactness and high intensity has rendered the use of optics of such large dimensions as the above, intended for burners of great focal diameter, unnecessary. It is now possible to obtain with a second-order optic (or one of 700 mm. focal distance), having a powerful incandescent petroleum burner in focus, a beam of equal intensity to that which would be obtained from the apparatus having a 10-wick oil burner or 108-jet gas burner at its focus.

Stephenson’s Spherical Lenses and Equiangular Prisms.—Mr C. A. Stephenson in 1888 designed a form of lens spherical in the horizontal and vertical sections. This admitted of the construction of lenses of long focal distance without the otherwise corresponding necessity of increased diameter of lantern. A lens of this type and of 1330 mm. focal distance was constructed in 1890 for Fair Isle lighthouse. The spherical form loses in efficiency if carried beyond an angle subtending 20° at the focus, and to obviate this loss Mr Stephenson designed his equiangular prisms, which have an inclination outwards. It is claimed by the designer that the use of equiangular prisms results in less loss of light and less divergence than is the case when either the spherical or Fresnel form is adopted. An example of this design is seen (fig. 40) in the Sule Skerry apparatus (1895).

Fixed and Flashing Lights.—The use of these lights, which show a fixed beam varied at intervals by more powerful flashes, is not to be recommended, though a large number were constructed in the earlier years of dioptric illumination and many are still in existence. The distinction can be produced in one or other of three ways: (a) by the revolution of detached panels of straight condensing lens prisms placed vertically around a fixed light optic, (b) by utilizing revolving lens panels in the middle portion of the optic to produce the flashing light, the upper and lower sections of the apparatus being fixed zones of catadioptric or reflecting elements emitting a fixed belt of light, and (c) by interposing panels of fixed light section between the flashing light panels of a revolving apparatus. In certain conditions of the atmosphere it is possible for the fixed light of low power to be entirely obscured while the flashes are visible, thus vitiating the true characteristic of the light. Cases have frequently occurred of such lights being mistaken for, and even described in lists of light as, revolving or flashing lights.

”Cute” and Screens.—Screens of coloured glass, intended to distinguish the light in particular azimuths, and of sheet iron, when it is desired to “cut off” the light sharply on any angle, should be fixed as far from the centre of the light as possible in order to reduce the escape of light rays due to divergence. These screens are usually attached to the lantern framing.

Divergence.—A dioptric apparatus designed to bend all incident rays of light from the light source in a horizontal direction would, if the flame could be a point, have the effect of projecting a horizontal band or zone of light, in the case of a fixed apparatus, and a cylinder of light rays, in the case of a flashing light, towards the horizon. Thus the mariner in the near distance would receive no light, the rays, visible only at or near the horizon, passing above the level of his eye. In practice this does not occur, sufficient natural divergence being produced ordinarily owing to the magnitude of the flame. Where the electric arc is employed it is often necessary to design the prisms so as to produce artificial divergence. The measure of the natural divergence for any point of the lens is the angle whose sine is the ratio of the diameter of the flame to the distance of the point from centre of flame.

In the case of vertical divergence the mean height of the flame must be substituted for the diameter. The angle thus obtained is the total divergence, that is, the sum of the angles above and below the horizontal plane or to right and left of the medial section. In fixed dioptric lights there is, of course, no divergence in the horizontal plane. In flashing lights the horizontal divergence is a matter of considerable importance, determining as it does the duration or length of time the flash is visible to the mariner.

Feux-Éclairs or Quick Flashing Lights.—One of the most important developments in the character of lighthouse illuminating apparatus that has occurred in recent years has been in the direction of reducing the length of flash. The initiative in this matter was taken by the French lighthouse authorities, and in France alone forty lights of this type were established between 1892 and 1901. The use of short flash lights rapidly spread to other parts of the world. In England the lighthouse at Pendeen (1900) exhibits a quadruple flash every 15 seconds, the flashes being about ¼ second duration (fig. 39), while the bivalve apparatus erected on Lundy Island (1897) shows 2 flashes of 13 second duration in quick succession every 20 seconds. Since 1900 many quick flashing lights have been erected on the coasts of the United Kingdom and in other countries. The early feux-éclairs, designed by the French engineers and others, had usually a flash of 110th to 13rd of a second duration. As a result of experiments carried out in France in 1903-1904, 310 second has been adopted by the French authorities as the minimum duration for white flashing lights. If shorter flashes are used it is found that the reduction in duration is attended by a corresponding, but not proportionate, diminution in effective intensity. In the case of many electric flashing lights the duration is of necessity reduced, but the greater initial intensity of the flash permits this loss without serious detriment to efficiency. Red or green requires a considerably greater duration than do white flashes. The intervals between the flashes in lights of this character are also small, 2½ seconds to 7 seconds. In group-flashing lights the intervals between the flashes are about 2 seconds or even less, with periods of 7 to 10 or 15 seconds between the groups. The flashes are arranged in single, double, triple or even quadruple groups, as in the older forms of apparatus. The feu-éclair type of apparatus enables a far higher intensity of flash to be obtained than was previously possible without any corresponding increase in the luminous power of the burner or other source of light. This result depends entirely upon the greater ratio of condensation of light employed, panels of greater angular breadth than was customary in the older forms of apparatus being used with a higher rotatory velocity. It has been urged that short flashes are insufficient for taking bearings, but the utility of a light in this respect does not seem to depend so much upon the actual length of the flash as upon its frequent recurrence at short intervals. At the Paris Exhibition of 1900 was exhibited a fifth-order flashing light giving short flashes at 1 second intervals; this represents the extreme to which the movement towards the reduction of the period of flashing lights has yet been carried.

Mercury Floats.—It has naturally been found impracticable to revolve the optical apparatus of a light with its mountings, sometimes weighing over 7 tons, at the high rate of speed required for feux-éclairs by means of the old system of roller carriages, though for some small quick-revolving lights ball bearings have been successfully adopted. It has therefore become almost the universal practice to carry the rotating portions of the apparatus upon a mercury float. This beautiful application of mercury rotation was the invention of Bourdelles, and is now utilized not only for the high-speed apparatus, but also generally for the few examples of the older type still being constructed. The arrangement consists of an annular cast iron bath or trough of such dimensions that a similar but slightly smaller annular float immersed in the bath and surrounded by mercury displaces a volume of the liquid metal whose weight is equal to that of the apparatus supported. Thus a comparatively insignificant quantity of mercury, say 2 cwt., serves to ensure the flotation of a mass of over 3 tons. Certain differences exist between the type of float usually constructed in France and those generally designed by English engineers. In all cases provision is made for lowering the mercury bath or raising the float and apparatus for examination. Examples of mercury floats are shown in figs. 41, 42, 43 and Plate I., figs. 54 and 55.


Fig. 41.—Manora Point Apparatus and Lantern.

Multiform Apparatus.—In order to double the power to be obtained from a single apparatus at stations where lights of exceptionally high intensity are desired, the expedient of placing one complete lens apparatus above another has sometimes been adopted, as at the Bishop Rock (fig. 13), and at the Fastnet lighthouse in Ireland (Plate I., fig. 54). Triform and quadriform apparatus have also been erected in Ireland; particulars of the Tory Island triform apparatus will be found in table VII. The adoption of the multiform system involves the use of lanterns of increased height.

Twin Apparatus.—Another method of doubling the power of a light is by mounting two complete and distinct optics side by side on the same revolving table, as I shown in fig. 43 of the Île Vierge apparatus. Several such lights have been installed by the French Lighthouse Service.

Port Lights.—Small self-contained lanterns and lights are in common use for marking the entrances to harbours and in other similar positions where neither high power nor long range is requisite. Many such lights are unattended in the sense that they do not require the attention of a keeper for days and even weeks together. These are described in more detail in section 6 of this article. A typical port light consists of a copper or brass lantern containing a lens of the fourth order (250 mm. focal distance) or smaller, and a single wick or 2-wick Argand capillary burner. Duplex burners are also used. The apparatus may exhibit a fixed light or, more usually, an occulting characteristic is produced by the revolution of screens actuated by spring clockwork around the burner. The lantern may be placed at the top of a column, or suspended from the head of a mast. Coal gas and electricity are also used as illuminants for port lights when local supplies are available. The optical apparatus used in connexion with electric light is described below.

”Orders” of Apparatus.—Augustin Fresnel divided the dioptric lenses, designed by him, into “orders” or sizes depending on their local distance. This division is still used, although two additional “orders,” known as “small third order” and “hyper-radial” respectively are in ordinary use. The following 639 table gives the principal dimensions of the several sizes in use:—

Table II.

Order. Focal
Vertical Angles of Optics.
(Ordinary Dimensions.)
Belt only.
Holophotal Optics.
Lens. Upper
Hyper-Radial 1330  80° 21° 57° 48°
1st order 920 92°, 80°, 58° 21° 57° 48°
2nd order 700 80° 21° 57° 48°
3rd order 500 80° 21° 57° 48°
Small 3rd order 375 80° 21° 57° 48°
4th order 250 80° 21° 57° 48°
5th order  187.5 80° 21° 57° 48°
6th order 150 80° 21° 57° 48°

Lenses of small focal distance are also made for buoy and beacon lights.

Fig. 42.—Cape Naturaliste Apparatus.
Fig. 43.—Île Vierge Apparatus.

Light Intensities.—The powers of lighthouse lights in the British Empire are expressed in terms of standard candles or in “lighthouse units” (one lighthouse unit = 1000 standard candles). In France the unit is the “Carcel” = .952 standard candle. The powers of burners and optical apparatus, then in use in the United Kingdom, were carefully determined by actual photometric measurement in 1892 by a committee consisting of the engineers of the three general lighthouse boards, and the values so obtained are used as the basis for calculating the intensities of all British lights. It was found that the intensities determined by photometric measurement were considerably less than the values given by the theoretical calculations formerly employed. A deduction of 20% was made from the mean experimental results obtained to compensate for loss by absorption in the lantern glass, variations in effects obtained by different men in working the burners and in the illuminating quality of oils, &c. The resulting reduced values are termed “service” intensities.

As has been explained above, the effect of a dioptric apparatus is to condense the light rays, and the measure of this condensation is the ratio between the vertical divergence and the vertical angle of the optic in the case of fixed lights. In flashing lights the ratio of vertical condensation must be multiplied by the ratio between the horizontal divergence and the horizontal angle of the panel. The loss of light by absorption in passing through the glass and by refraction varies from 10% to 15%. For apparatus containing catadioptric elements a larger deduction must be made.

The intensity of the flash emitted from a dioptric apparatus, showing a white light, may be found approximately by the empirical formula I = PCVH/vh, where I = intensity of resultant beam, P = service intensity of flame, V = vertical angle of optic, v = angle of mean vertical divergence, H = horizontal angle of panel, h = angle 640 of mean horizontal divergence, and C = constant varying between .9 and .75 according to the description of apparatus. The factor H/h must be eliminated in the case of fixed lights. Deduction must also be made in the case of coloured lights. It should, however, be pointed out that photometric measurements alone can be relied upon to give accurate values for lighthouse intensities. The values obtained by the use of Allard’s formulae, which were largely used before the necessity for actual photometric measurements came to be appreciated, are considerably in excess of the true intensities.

Fig. 43a.—Île Vierge Apparatus and Lantern. Plan at focal plane.

Optical Calculations.—The mathematical theory of optical apparatus for lighthouses and formulae for the calculations of profiles will be found in the works of the Stevensons, Chance, Allard, Reynaud, Ribière and others. Particulars of typical lighthouse apparatus will be found in tables VI. and VII.

4. Illuminants.—The earliest form of illuminant used for lighthouses was a fire of coal or wood set in a brazier or grate erected on top of the lighthouse tower. Until the end of the 18th and even into the 19th century this primitive illuminant continued to be almost the only one in use. The coal fire at the Isle of May light continued until 1810 and that at St Bees lighthouse in Cumberland till 1823. Fires are stated to have been used on the two towers of Nidingen, in the Kattegat, until 1846. Smeaton was the first to use any form of illuminant other than coal fires; he placed within the lantern of his Eddystone lighthouse a chandelier holding 24 tallow candles each of which weighed 25 of a ℔ and emitted a light of 2.8 candle power. The aggregate illuminating power was 67.2 candles and the consumption at the rate of 3.4 ℔ per hour.

Oil.—Oil lamps with flat wicks were used in the Liverpool lighthouses as early as 1763. Argand, between 1780 and 1783, perfected his cylindrical wick lamp which provides a central current of air through the burner, thus allowing the more perfect combustion of the gas issuing from the wick. The contraction in the diameter of the glass chimney used with wick lamps is due to Lange, and the principle of the multiple wick burner was devised by Count Rumford. Fresnel produced burners having two, three and four concentric wicks. Sperm oil, costing 5s. to 8s. per gallon, was used in English lighthouses until 1846, but about that year colza oil was employed generally at a cost of 2s. 9d. per gallon. Olive oil, lard oil and coconut oil have also been used for lighthouse purposes in various parts of the world.

Mineral Oil Burners.—The introduction of mineral oil, costing a mere fraction of the expensive animal and vegetable oils, revolutionized the illumination of lighthouses. It was not until 1868 that a burner was devised which successfully consumed hydrocarbon oils. This was a multiple wick burner invented by Captain Doty. The invention was quickly taken advantage of by lighthouse authorities, and the “Doty” burner, and other patterns involving the same principle, remained practically the only oil burners in lighthouse use until the last few years of the 19th century.

The lamps used for supplying oil to the burner are of two general types, viz. those in which the oil is maintained under pressure by mechanical action and constant level lamps. In the case of single wick, and some 2-wick burners, oil is supplied to the burner by the capillary action of the wick alone.

The mineral oils ordinarily in use are petroleum, which for lighthouse purposes should have a specific gravity of from .820 to .830 at 60° F. and flashing point of not less than 230° F. (Abel close test), and Scottish shale oil or paraffin with a specific gravity of about .810 at 60° F. and flash point of 140° to 165° F. Both these varieties may be obtained in England at a cost of about 6½d. per gallon in bulk.

Coal Gas had been introduced in 1837 at the inner pier light of Troon (Ayrshire) and in 1847 it was in use at the Heugh lighthouse (West Hartlepool). In 1878 cannel coal gas was adopted for the Galley Head lighthouse, with 108-jet Wigham burners. Sir James Douglass introduced gas burners consisting of concentric rings, two to ten in number, perforated on the upper edges. These give excellent results and high intensity, 2600 candles in the case of the 10-ring burner with a flame diameter at the focal plane of 558 in. They are still in use at certain stations. The use of multiple ring and jet gas burners is not being further extended. Gas for lighthouse purposes generally requires to be specially made; the erection of gas works at the station is thus necessitated and a considerable outlay entailed which is avoided by the use of oil as an illuminant.

Fig. 44.—“Chance” Incandescent Oil Burner, with 85 mm. diameter mantle.

Incandescent Coal Gas Burners.—The invention of the Welsbach mantle placed at the disposal of the lighthouse authorities the means of producing a light of high intensity combined with great focal compactness. For lighthouse purposes other gaseous illuminants than coal gas are as a rule more convenient and economical, and give better results with incandescent mantles. Mantles have, however, been used with ordinary coal gas in many instances where a local supply is available.

Incandescent Mineral Oil Burners.—Incandescent lighting with high-flash mineral oil was first introduced by the French Lighthouse Service in 1898 at L’Île Penfret lighthouse. The burners employed are all made on the same principle, but differ slightly in details according to the type of lighting apparatus for which they are intended. The principle consists in injecting the liquid petroleum in the form of spray mixed with air into a vaporizer heated by the mantle flame or by a subsidiary heating burner. A small reservoir of compressed air is used—charged by means of a hand pump—for providing the necessary pressure for injection. On first ignition the vaporizer is heated by a spirit flame to the required temperature. A reservoir air pressure of 125 ℔ per sq. in. is employed, a reducing valve supplying air to the oil at from 60 to 65 ℔ per sq. in. Small reservoirs containing liquefied carbon dioxide have also been employed for supplying the requisite pressure to the oil vessel.

The candle-power of apparatus in which ordinary multiple wick burners were formerly employed is increased by over 300% by the substitution of suitable incandescent oil burners. In 1902 incandescent oil burners were adopted by the general lighthouse authorities in the United Kingdom. The burners used in the Trinity House Service and some of those made in France have the vaporizers placed over the flame. In other forms, of which the “Chance” burner (fig. 44) is a type, the vaporization is effected by means of a subsidiary burner placed under the main flame.

Particulars of the sizes of burner in ordinary use are given in the following table.

Diameter of Mantle. Service Intensity. Consumption of oil.
Pints per hour.
35 mm.  600 candles.  .50
55 mm. 1200  ” 1.00
85 mm. 2150  ” 2.25
Triple mantle 50 mm. 3300  ” 3.00


The intrinsic brightness of incandescent burners generally may be taken as being equivalent to from 30 candles to 40 candles per sq. cm. of the vertical section of the incandescent mantle.

In the case of wick burners, the intrinsic brightness varies, according to the number of wicks and the type of burner from about 3.5 candles to about 12 candles per sq. cm., the value being at its maximum with the larger type of burner. The luminous intensity of a beam from a dioptric apparatus is, ceteris paribus, proportional to the intrinsic brightness of the luminous source of flame, and not of the total luminous intensity. The intrinsic brightness of the flame of oil burners increases only slightly with their focal diameter, consequently while the consumption of oil increases the efficiency of the burner for a given apparatus decreases. The illuminating power of the condensed beam can only be improved to a slight extent, and, in fact, is occasionally decreased, by increasing the number of wicks in the burner. The same argument applies to the case of multiple ring and multiple jet gas burners which, notwithstanding their large total intensity, have comparatively small intrinsic brightness. The economy of the new system is instanced by the case of the Eddystone bi-form apparatus, which with the concentric 6-wick burner consuming 2500 gals. of oil per annum, gave a total intensity of 79,250 candles. Under the new régime the intensity is 292,000 candles, the oil consumption being practically halved.

Incandescent Oil Gas Burners.—It has been mentioned that incandescence with low-pressure coal gas produces flames of comparatively small intrinsic brightness. Coal gas cannot be compressed beyond a small extent without considerable injurious condensation and other accompanying evils. Recourse has therefore been had to compressed oil gas, which is capable of undergoing compression to 10 or 12 atmospheres with little detriment, and can conveniently be stored in portable reservoirs. The burner employed resembles the ordinary Bunsen burner with incandescent mantle, and the rate of consumption of gas is 27.5 cub. in. per hour per candle. A reducing valve is used for supplying the gas to the burner at constant pressure. The burners can be left unattended for considerable periods. The system was first adopted in France, where it is installed at eight lighthouses, among others the Ar’men Rock light, and has been extended to other parts of the world including several stations in Scotland and England. The mantles used in France are of 35 mm. diameter. The 35 mm. mantle gives a candle-power of 400, with an intrinsic brightness of 20 candles per sq. cm.

The use of oil gas necessitates the erection of gas works at the lighthouse or its periodical supply in portable reservoirs from a neighbouring station. A complete gas works plant costs about £800. The annual expenditure for gas lighting in France does not exceed £72 per light where works are installed, or £32 where gas is supplied from elsewhere. In the case of petroleum vapour lighting the annual cost of oil amounts to about £26 per station.

Acetylene.—The high illuminating power and intrinsic brightness of the flame of acetylene makes it a very suitable illuminant for lighthouses and beacons, providing certain difficulties attending its use can be overcome. At Grangemouth an unattended 21-day beacon has been illuminated by an acetylene flame for some years with considerable success, and a beacon light designed to run unattended for six months was established on Bedout Island in Western Australia in 1910. Acetylene has also been used in the United States, Germany, the Argentine, China, Canada, &c., for lighthouse and beacon illumination. Many buoys and beacons on the German and Dutch coasts have been supplied with oil gas mixed with 20% of acetylene, thereby obtaining an increase of over 100% in illuminating intensity. In France an incandescent burner consuming acetylene gas mixed with air has been installed at the Chassiron lighthouse (1902). The French Lighthouse Service has perfected an incandescent acetylene burner with a 55 mm. mantle having an intensity of over 2000 candle-power, with intrinsic brightness of 60 candles per sq. cm.

Electricity.—The first installation of electric light for lighthouse purposes in England took place in 1858 at the South Foreland, where the Trinity House established a temporary plant for experimental purposes. This installation was followed in 1862 by the adoption of the illuminant at the Dungeness lighthouse, where it remained in service until the year 1874 when oil was substituted for electricity. The earliest of the permanent installations now existing in England is that at Souter Point which was illuminated in 1871. There are in England four important coast lights illuminated by electricity, and one, viz. Isle of May, in Scotland. Of the former St Catherine’s, in the Isle of Wight, and the Lizard are the most powerful. Electricity was substituted as an illuminant for the then existing oil light at St Catherine’s in 1888. The optical apparatus consisted of a second-order 16-sided revolving lens, which was transferred to the South Foreland station in 1904, and a new second order (700 mm.) four-sided optic with a vertical angle of 139°, exhibiting a flash of .21 second duration every 5 seconds substituted for it. A fixed holophote is placed inside the optic in the dark or landward arc, and at the focal plane of the lamp. This holophote condenses the rays from the arc falling upon it into a pencil of small angle, which is directed horizontally upon a series of reflecting prisms which again bend the light and throw it downwards through an aperture in the lantern floor on to another series of prisms, which latter direct the rays seaward in the form of a sector of fixed red light at a lower level in the tower. A somewhat similar arrangement exists at Souter Point lighthouse.

The apparatus installed at the Lizard in 1903 is similar to that at St Catherine’s, but has no arrangement for producing a subsidiary sector light. The flash is of .13 seconds duration every 3 seconds. The apparatus replaced the two fixed electric lights erected in 1878.

Fig. 45.—Isle of May Apparatus.

The Isle of May lighthouse, at the mouth of the Firth of Forth, was first illuminated by electricity in 1886. The optical apparatus consists of a second-order fixed-light lens with reflecting prisms, and is surrounded by a revolving system of vertical condensing prisms which split up the vertically condensed beam of light into 8 separate beams of 3° in azimuth. The prisms are so arranged that the apparatus, making one complete revolution in the minute, produces a group characteristic of 4 flashes in quick succession every 30 seconds (fig. 45). The fixed light is not of the ordinary Fresnel section, the refracting portion being confined to an angle of 10°, and the remainder of the vertical section consisting of reflecting prisms.

In France the old south lighthouse at La Hève was lit by electricity in 1863. This installation was followed in 1865 by a similar one at the north lighthouse. In 1910 there were thirteen important coast lights in France illuminated by electricity. In other parts of the world, Macquarie lighthouse, Sydney, was lit by electricity in 1883; Tino, in the gulf of Spezia, in 1885; and Navesink lighthouse, near the entrance to New York Bay, in 1898. Electric apparatus were also installed at the lighthouse at Port Said in 1869, on the opening of the canal; Odessa in 1871; and at the Rothersand, North Sea, in 1885. There are several other lights in various parts of the world illuminated by this agency.

Incandescent electric lighting has been adopted for the illumination of certain light-vessels in the United States, and a few small harbour and port lights, beacons and buoys.

Table VI. gives particulars of some of the more important electric lighthouses of the world.

Electric Lighthouse Installations in France.—A list of the thirteen lighthouses on the French coast equipped with electric light installations will be found in table VI. It has been already mentioned that the two lighthouses at La Hève were lit by electric light in 1863 and 1865. These installations were followed within a few years by the establishment of electricity as illuminant at Gris-Nez. In 1882 M. Allard, the then director-general of the French Lighthouse Service, prepared a scheme for the electric lighting of the French littoral by means of 46 lights distributed more or less uniformly along the coast-line. All the apparatus were to be of the same general type, the optics consisting of a fixed belt of 300 mm. focal distance, around the outside of which revolved a system of 24 faces of vertical lenses. These vertical panels condensed the belt of fixed light into beams of 3° amplitude in azimuth, producing flashes of about ¾ sec. duration. To illuminate the near sea the vertical divergence of the lower prisms of the fixed belt was artificially increased. These optics are very similar to that in use at the Souter Point lighthouse, Sunderland. The intensities obtained were 120,000 candles in the case of fixed lights and 900,000 candles with flashing lights. As a result of a nautical inquiry held in 1886, at which date the lights of Dunkerque, Calais, Gris-Nez, La Canche, Baleines and 642 Planier had been lighted, in addition to the old apparatus at La Hève, it was decided to limit the installation of electrical apparatus to important landfall lights—a decision which the Trinity House had already arrived at in the case of the English coast—and to establish new apparatus at six stations only. These were Créac’h d’Ouessant (Ushant), Belle-Île, La Coubre at the mouth of the river Gironde, Barfleur, Île d’Yeu and Penmarc’h. At the same time it was determined to increase the powers of the existing electric lights. The scheme as amended in 1886 was completed in 1902.2

All the electrically lit apparatus, in common with other optics established in France since 1893, have been provided with mercury rotation. The most recent electric lights have been constructed in the form of twin apparatus, two complete and distinct optics being mounted side by side upon the same revolving table and with corresponding faces parallel. It is found that a far larger aggregate candle-power is obtained from two lamps with 16 mm. to 23 mm. diameter carbons and currents of 60 to 120 amperes than with carbons and currents of larger dimensions in conjunction with single optics of greater focal distance. A somewhat similar circumstance led to the choice of the twin form for the two very powerful non-electric apparatus at Île Vierge (figs. 43 and 43A) and Ailly, particulars of which will be seen in table VII.

Several of the de Meritens magneto-electric machines of 5.5 K.W., laid down many years ago at French electric lighthouse stations, are still in use. All these machines have five induction coils, which, upon the installation of the twin optics, were separated into two distinct circuits, each consisting of 2½ coils. This modification has enabled the old plants to be used with success under the altered conditions of lighting entailed by the use of two lamps. The generators adopted in the French service for use at the later stations differ materially from the old type of de Meritens machine. The Phare d’Eckmühl (Penmarc’h) installation serves as a type of the more modern machinery. The dynamos are alternating current two-phase machines, and are installed in duplicate. The two lamps are supplied with current from the same machine, the second dynamo being held in reserve. The speed is 810 to 820 revolutions per minute.

The lamp generally adopted is a combination of the Serrin and Berjot principles, with certain modifications. Clockwork mechanism with a regulating electromagnet moves the rods simultaneously and controls the movements of the carbons so that they are displaced at the same rate as they are consumed. It is usual to employ currents of varying power with carbons of corresponding dimensions according to the atmospheric conditions. In the French service two variations are used in the case of twin apparatus produced by currents of 60 and 120 amperes at 45 volts with carbons 14 mm. and 18 mm. diameter, while in single optic apparatus currents of 25, 50 and 100 amperes are utilized with carbon of 11 mm., 16 mm. and 23 mm. diameter. In England fluted carbons of larger diameter are employed with correspondingly increased current. Alternating currents have given the most successful results in all respects. Attempts to utilize continuous current for lighthouse arc lights have, up to the present, met with little success.

The cost of a first-class electric lighthouse installation of the most recent type in France, including optical apparatus, lantern, dynamos, engines, air compressor, siren, &c., but not buildings, amounts approximately to £5900.

Efficiency of the Electric Light.—In 1883 the lighthouse authorities of Great Britain determined that an exhaustive series of experiments should be carried out at the South Foreland with a view to ascertaining the relative suitability of electricity, gas and oil as lighthouse illuminants. The experiments extended over a period of more than twelve months, and were attended by representatives of the chief lighthouse authorities of the world. The results of the trials tended to show that the rays of oil and gas lights suffered to about equal extent by atmospheric absorption, but that oil had the advantage over gas by reason of its greater economy in cost of maintenance and in initial outlay on installation. The electric light was found to suffer to a much larger extent than either oil or gas light per unit of power by atmospheric absorption, but the infinitely greater total intensity of the beam obtainable by its use, both by reason of the high luminous intensity of the electric arc and its focal compactness, more than outweighed the higher percentage of loss in fog. The final conclusion of the committee on the relative merits of electricity, gas or oil as lighthouse illuminants is given in the following words: “That for ordinary necessities of lighthouse illumination, mineral oil is the most suitable and economical illuminant, and that for salient headlands, important landfalls, and places where a very powerful light is required electricity offers the greater advantages.”

5. Miscellaneous Lighthouse Equipment. Lanterns.—Modern lighthouse lanterns usually consist of a cast iron or steel pedestal, cylindrical in plan, on which is erected the lantern glazing, surmounted by a domed roof and ventilator (fig. 41). Adequate ventilation is of great importance, and is provided by means of ventilators in the pedestal and a large ventilating dome or cowl in the roof. The astragals carrying the glazing are of wrought steel or gun-metal. The astragals are frequently arranged helically or diagonally, thus causing a minimum of obstruction to the light rays in any vertical section and affording greater rigidity to the structure. The glazing is usually ¼-in. thick plate-glass curved to the radius of the lantern. In situations of great exposure the thickness is increased. Lantern roofs are of sheet steel or copper secured to steel or cast-iron rafter frames. In certain instances it is found necessary to erect a grille or network outside the lantern to prevent the numerous sea birds, attracted by the light, from breaking the glazing by impact. Lanterns vary in diameter from 5 ft. to 16 ft. or more, according to the size of the optical apparatus. For first order apparatus a diameter of 12 ft. or 14 ft. is usual.

Lightning Conductors.—The lantern and principal metallic structures in a lighthouse are usually connected to a lightning conductor carried either to a point below low water or terminating in an earth plate embedded in wet ground. Conductors may be of copper tape or copper-wire rope.

Rotating Machinery.—Flashing-light apparatus are rotated by clockwork mechanism actuated by weights. The clocks are fitted with speed governors and electric warning apparatus to indicate variation in speed and when rewinding is required. For occulting apparatus either weight clocks or spring clocks are employed.

Accommodation for Keepers, &c.—At rock and other isolated stations, accommodation for the keepers is usually provided in the towers. In the case of land lighthouses, dwellings are provided in close proximity to the tower. The service or watch room should be situated immediately under the lantern floor. Oil is usually stored in galvanized steel tanks. A force pump is sometimes used for pumping oil from the storage tanks to a service tank in the watch-room or lantern.

6. Unattended Lights and Beacons.—Until recent years no unattended lights were in existence. The introduction of Pintsch’s gas system in the early ’seventies provided a means of illumination for beacons and buoys of which large use has been made. Other illuminants are also in use to a considerable extent.

Unattended Electric Lights.—In 1884 an iron beacon lighted by an incandescent lamp supplied with current from a secondary battery was erected on a tidal rock near Cadiz. A 28-day clock was arranged for eclipsing the light between sunrise and sunset and automatically cutting off the current at intervals to produce an occulting characteristic. Several small dioptric apparatus illuminated with incandescent electric lamps have been made by the firm of Barbier Bénard et Turenne of Paris, and supplied with current from batteries of Daniell cells, with electric clockwork mechanism for occulting the light. These apparatus have been fitted to beacons and buoys, and are generally arranged to automatically switch off the current during the day-time. They run unattended for periods up to two months. Two separate lenses and lamps are usually provided, with lamp changer, only one lamp being in circuit at a time. In the event of failure in the upper lamp of the two the current automatically passes to the lower lamp.

Fig. 46.—Garvel Beacon.

Oil-gas Beacons.—In 1881 a beacon automatically lighted by Pintsch’s compressed oil gas was erected on the river Clyde, and large numbers of these structures have since been installed in all parts of the world. The gas is contained in an iron or steel reservoir placed within the beacon structure, refilled by means of a flexible hose on the occasions of the periodical visits of the tender. The beacons, which remain illuminated for periods up to three months are charged to 7 atmospheres. Many lights are provided with occulting apparatus actuated by the gas passing from the reservoir to the burner automatically cutting off and turning on the supply. The Garvel beacon (1899) on the Clyde is shown in fig. 46. The burner has 7 jets, and the light is occulting. Since 1907 incandescent mantle burners for oil gas have been largely used for beacon illumination, both for fixed and occulting lights.

Acetylene has also been used for the illumination of beacons and other unattended lights.

Lindberg Lights.—In 1881-1882 several beacons lighted automatically by volatile petroleum spirit on the Lindberg-Lyth and Lindberg-Trotter systems were established in Sweden. Many lights of this type have subsequently been placed in different parts of the world. The volatile spirit lamp burns day and night. Occultations are produced by a screen or series of screens rotated round the light by the ascending current of heated air and gases from the lamp 643 acting upon a horizontal fan. The speed of rotation of the fan cannot be accurately adjusted, and the times of occultation therefore are liable to slight variation. The lights run unattended for periods up to twenty-one days.

Benson-Lee Lamps.—An improvement upon the foregoing is the Benson-Lee lamp, in which a similar occulting arrangement is often used, but the illuminant is paraffin consumed in a special burner having carbon-tipped wicks which require no trimming. The flame intensity of the light is greater than that of the burner consuming light spirit. The introduction of paraffin also avoids the danger attending the use of the more volatile spirit. Many of these lights are in use on the Scottish coast. They are also used in other parts of the United Kingdom, and in the United States, Canada and other countries.

Permanent Wick Lights.—About 1891 the French Lighthouse Service introduced petroleum lamps consuming ordinary high-flash lighthouse oil, and burning without attention for periods of several months. The burners are of special construction, provided with a very thick wick which is in the first instance treated in such a manner as to cause the formation of a deposit of carbonized tar on its exposed upper surface. This crust prevents further charring of the wick after ignition, the oil becoming vaporized from the under side of the crust. Many fixed, occulting and flashing lights fitted with these burners are established in France and other countries. In the case of the occulting types a revolving screen is placed around the burner and carried upon a miniature mercury float. The rotation is effected by means of a small Gramme motor on a vertical axis, fitted with a speed governor, and supplied with current from a battery of primary cells. The oil reservoir is placed in the upper part of the lantern and connected with the burner by a tube, to which is fitted a constant level regulator for maintaining the burning level of the oil at a fixed height. In the flashing or revolving light types the arrangement is generally similar, the lenses being revolved upon a mercury float which is rotated by the electric motor. The flashing apparatus established at St Marcouf in 1901 has a beam intensity of 1000 candle-power, and is capable of running unattended for three months. The electric current employed for rotating the apparatus is supplied by four Lalande and Chaperon primary cells, coupled in series, each giving about 0.15 ampere at a voltage of 0.65. The power required to work the apparatus is at the maximum about 0.165 ampere at 0.75 volt, the large surplus of power which is provided for the sake of safety being absorbed by a brake or governor connected with the motor.

Wigham Beacon Lights.—Wigham introduced an oil lamp for beacon and buoy purposes consisting of a vertical container filled with ordinary mineral oil or paraffin, and carrying a roller immediately under the burner case over which a long flat wick passes. One end of the wick is attached to a float which falls in the container as the oil is consumed, automatically drawing a fresh portion of the wick over the roller. The other end of the wick is attached to a free counterweight which serves to keep it stretched. The oil burns from the convex surface of the wick as it passes over the roller, a fresh portion being constantly passed under the action of the flame. The light is capable of burning without attention for thirty days. These lights are also fitted with occulting screens on the Lindberg system. The candle-power of the flame is small.

7. Light-Vessels.—The earliest light-vessel placed in English waters was that at the Nore in 1732. The early light-ships were of small size and carried lanterns of primitive construction and small size suspended from the yard-arms. Modern light-vessels are of steel, wood or composite construction. Steel is now generally employed in new ships. The wood and composite ships are sheathed with Muntz metal. The dimensions of English light-vessels vary. The following may be taken as the usual limits:

Length 80 ft. to 114 ft.
Beam 20 ft. to 24 ft.
Depth moulded 13 ft. to 15 ft. 6 in.
Tonnage 155 to 280.

The larger vessels are employed at outside and exposed stations, the smaller ships being stationed in sheltered positions and in estuaries. The moorings usually consist of 3-ton mushroom anchors and 158 open link cables. The lanterns in common use are 8 ft. in diameter, circular in form, with glazing 4 ft. in height. They are annular in plan, surrounding the mast of the vessel upon which they are hoisted for illumination, and are lowered to the deck level during the day. Fixed lanterns mounted on hollow steel masts are now being used in many services, and are gradually displacing the older type. The first English light-vessel so equipped was constructed in 1904. Of the 87 light-vessels in British waters, including unattended light-vessels, eleven are in Ireland and six in Scotland. At the present time there are over 750 light-vessels in service throughout the world.

Until about 1895 the illuminating apparatus used in light-vessels was exclusively of catoptric form, usually consisting of 21 in. or 24 in. silvered parabolic reflectors, having 1, 2 or 3-wick mineral oil burners in focus. The reflectors and lamps are hung in gimbals to preserve the horizontal direction of the beams.

The following table gives the intensity of beam obtained by means of a type of reflector in general use:

21-in. Trinity House Parabolic Reflector

    Service Intensity
of Beam.
Burners 1 wick “Douglass”   2715 candles
  ”   2    ” (Catoptric) 4004  ”
  ”   2    ” (Dioptric) 6722  ”
  ”   3    ”   7528  ”

In revolving flashing lights two or more reflectors are arranged in parallel in each face. Three, four or more faces or groups of reflectors are arranged around the lantern in which they revolve, and are carried upon a turn-table rotated by clockwork. The intensity of the flashing beam is therefore equivalent to the combined intensities of the beams emitted by the several reflectors in each face. The first light-vessel with revolving light was placed at the Swin Middle at the entrance to the Thames in 1837. Group-flashing characteristics can be produced by special arrangements of the reflectors. Dioptric apparatus is now being introduced in many new vessels, the first to be so fitted in England being that stationed at the Swin Middle in 1905, the apparatus of which is gas illuminated and gives a flash of 25,000 candle-power.

Fog signals, when provided on board light-vessels are generally in the form of reed-horns or sirens, worked by compressed air. The compressors are driven from steam or oil engines. The cost of a modern type of English light-vessel, with power-driven compressed air siren, is approximately £16,000.

In the United States service, the more recently constructed vessels have a displacement of 600 tons, each costing £18,000. They are provided with self-propelling power and steam whistle fog signals. The illuminating apparatus is usually in the form of small dioptric lens lanterns suspended at the mast-head—3 or more to each mast, but a few of the ships, built since 1907, are provided with fourth-order revolving dioptric lights in fixed lanterns. There are 53 light-vessels in service on the coasts of the United States with 13 reserve ships.

Electrical Illumination.—An experimental installation of the electric light placed on board a Mersey light-vessel in 1886 by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board proved unsuccessful. The United States Lighthouse Board in 1892 constructed a light-vessel provided with a powerful electric light, and moored her on the Cornfield Point station in Long Island Sound. This vessel was subsequently placed off Sandy Hook (1894) and transferred to the Ambrose Channel Station in 1907. Five other light-vessels in the United States have since been provided with incandescent electric lights—either with fixed or occulting characteristics—including Nantucket Shoals (1896), Fire Island (1897), Diamond Shoals (1898), Overfalls Shoal (1901) and San Francisco (1902).

Gas Illumination.—In 1896 the French Lighthouse Service completed the construction of a steel light-vessel (Talais), which was ultimately placed at the mouth of the Gironde. The construction of this vessel was the outcome of experiments carried out with a view to produce an efficient light-vessel at moderate cost, lit by a dioptric flashing light with incandescent oil-gas burner. The construction of the Talais was followed by that of a second and larger vessel, the Snouw, on similar lines, having a length of 65 ft. 6 in., beam 20 ft. and a draught of 12 ft., with a displacement of 130 tons. The cost of this vessel complete with optical apparatus and gasholders, with accommodation for three men, was approximately £5000. The vessel was built in 1898-1899.3 A third vessel was constructed in 1901-1902 for the Sandettié Bank on the general lines adopted for the preceding examples of her class, but of the following increased dimensions: length 115 ft.; width at water-line 20 ft. 6 in.; and draught 15 ft., with a displacement of 342 tons (fig. 47). Accommodation is provided for a crew of eight men. The optical apparatus (fig. 48) is dioptric, consisting of 4 panels of 250 mm. focal distance, carried upon a “Cardan” joint below the lens table, and counter-balanced by a heavy pendulum weight. The apparatus is revolved by clockwork and illuminated by compressed oil gas with incandescent mantle. The candle-power of the beam is 35,000. The gas is contained in three reservoirs placed in the hold. The apparatus is contained in a 6-ft. lantern constructed at the head of a tubular mast 2 ft. 6 in. diameter. A powerful siren is provided with steam engine and boiler for working the air compressors. The total cost of the vessel, including fog signal and optical apparatus, was £13,600. A vessel of similar construction to the Talais was placed by the Trinity House in 1905 on the Swin Middle station. The illuminant is oil gas. Gas illuminated light-vessels have also been constructed for the German and Chinese Lighthouse Service.

Unattended Light-vessels.—In 1881 an unattended light-vessel, illuminated with Pintsch’s oil gas, was constructed for the Clyde, and is still in use at the Garvel Point. The light is occulting, and is shown from a dioptric lens fitted at the head of a braced iron lattice tower 30 ft. above water-level. The vessel is of iron, 40 ft. long, 12 ft. beam and 8 ft. deep, and has a storeholder on board containing oil gas under a pressure of six atmospheres capable of maintaining a light for three months. A similar vessel is placed off Calshot Spit in Southampton Water, and several have been constructed for the 644 French and other Lighthouse Services. The French boats are provided with deep main and bilge keels similar to those adopted in the larger gas illuminated vessels. In 1901 a light-vessel 60 ft. in length was placed off the Otter Rock on the west coast of Scotland; it is constructed of steel, 24 ft. beam, 12 ft. deep and draws 9 ft. of water (fig. 49). The focal plane is elevated 25 ft. above the water-line, and the lantern is 6 ft. in diameter. The optical apparatus is of 500 mm. focal distance and hung in gimbals with a pendulum balance and “Cardan” joint as in the Sandettié light-vessel. The illuminant is oil gas, with an occulting characteristic. The storeholder contains 10,500 cub. ft. of gas at eight atmospheres, sufficient to supply the light for ninety days and nights. A bell is provided, struck by clappers moved by the roll of the vessel. The cost of the vessel complete was £2979. The Northern Lighthouse Commissioners have four similar vessels in service, and others have been stationed in the Hugli estuary, at Bombay, off the Chinese coasts and elsewhere. In 1909 an unattended gas illuminated light-vessel provided with a dioptric flashing apparatus was placed at the Lune Deep in Morecambe Bay. It is also fitted with a fog bell struck automatically by a gas operated mechanism.

Fig. 47.—Sandettié Lightship.
Fig. 48.—Lantern of Sandettié Lightship.

Electrical Communication of Light-vessels with the Shore.—Experiments were instituted in 1886 at the Sunk light-vessel off the Essex coast with the view to maintaining telephonic communication with the shore by means of a submarine cable 9 m. in length. Great difficulties were experienced in maintaining communication during stormy weather, breakages in the cable being frequent. These difficulties were subsequently partially overcome by the employment of larger vessels and special moorings. Wireless telegraphic installations have now (1910) superseded the cable communications with light-vessels in English waters except in four cases. Seven light-vessels, including the four off the Goodwin Sands, are now fitted for wireless electrical communication with the shore.

In addition many pile lighthouses and isolated rock and island stations have been placed in electrical communication with the shore by means of cables or wireless telegraphy. The Fastnet lighthouse was, in 1894, electrically connected with the shore by means of a non-continuous cable, it being found impossible to maintain a continuous cable in shallow water near the rock owing to the heavy wash of the sea. A copper conductor, carried down from the tower to below low-water mark, was separated from the cable proper, laid on the bed of the sea in a depth of 13 fathoms, by a distance of about 100 ft. The lighthouse was similarly connected to earth on the opposite side of the rock. The conductor terminated in a large copper plate, and to the cable end was attached a copper mushroom. Weak currents were induced in the lighthouse conductor by the main current in the cable, and messages received in the tower by the help of electrical relays. On the completion of the new tower on the Fastnet Rock in 1906 this installation was superseded by a wireless telegraphic installation.

8. Distribution and Distinction of Lights, &c.—Methods of Distinction.—The following are the various light characteristics which may be exhibited to the mariner:—

Fixed.—Showing a continuous or steady light. Seldom used in modern lighthouses and generally restricted to small port or harbour lights. A fixed light is liable to be confused with lights of shipping or other shore lights.

Flashing.4—Showing a single flash, the duration of darkness always being greater than that of light. This characteristic or that immediately following is generally adopted for important lights. The French authorities have given the name Feux-Eclair to flashing lights of short duration.

Group-Flashing.—Showing groups of two or more flashes in quick succession (not necessarily of the same colour) separated by eclipses with a larger interval of darkness between the groups.

Fixed and Flashing.—Fixed light varied by a single white or coloured flash, which may be preceded and followed by a short eclipse. This type of light, in consequence of the unequal intensities of the beams, is unreliable, and examples are now seldom installed although many are still in service.

Fixed and Group-Flashing.—Similar to the preceding and open to the same objections.

Revolving.—This term is still retained in the “Lists of Lights” issued by the Admiralty and some other authorities to denote a light gradually increasing to full effect, then decreasing to eclipse. At short distances and in clear weather a faint continuous light may be observed. There is no essential difference between revolving and flashing lights, the distinction being merely due to the speed of rotation, and the term might well be abandoned as in the United States lighthouse list.

Occulting.—A continuous light with, at regular intervals, one sudden and total eclipse, the duration of light always being equal to or greater than that of darkness. This characteristic is usually exhibited by fixed dioptric apparatus fitted with some form of occulting mechanism. Many lights formerly of fixed characteristic have been converted to occulting.


Group Occulting.—A continuous light with, at regular intervals, groups of two or more sudden and total eclipses.

Alternating.—Lights of different colours (generally red and white) alternately without any intervening eclipse. This characteristic is not to be recommended for reasons which have already been referred to. Many of the permanent and unwatched lights on the coasts of Norway and Sweden are of this description.

Colour.—The colours usually adopted for lights are white, red and green. White is to be preferred whenever possible, owing to the great absorption of light by the use of red or green glass screens.

Fig. 49.—Otter Rock Light-vessel.

Sectors.—Coloured lights are often requisite to distinguish cuts or sectors, and should be shown from fixed or occulting light apparatus and not from flashing apparatus. In marking the passage through a channel, or between sandbanks or other dangers, coloured light sectors are arranged to cover the dangers, white light being shown over the fairway with sufficient margin of safety between the edges of the coloured sectors next the fairway and the dangers.

Choice of Characteristic and Description of Apparatus.—In determining the choice of characteristic for a light due regard must be paid to existing lights in the vicinity. No light should be placed on a coast line having a characteristic the same as, or similar to, another in its neighbourhood unless one or more lights of dissimilar characteristic, and at least as high power and range, intervene. In the case of “landfall lights” the characteristic should differ from any other within a range of 100 m. In narrow seas the distance between lights of similar characteristic may be less. Landfall lights are, in a sense, the most important of all and the most powerful apparatus available should be installed at such stations. The distinctive characteristic of a light should be such that it may be readily determined by a mariner without the necessity of accurately timing the period or duration of flashes. For landfall and other important coast stations flashing dioptric apparatus of the first order (920 mm. focal distance) with powerful burners are required. In countries where the atmosphere is generally clear and fogs are less prevalent than on the coasts of the United Kingdom, second or third order lights suffice for landfalls having regard to the high intensities available by the use of improved illuminants. Secondary coast lights may be of second, third or fourth order of flashing character, and important harbour lights of third or fourth order. Less important harbours and places where considerable range is not required, as in estuaries and narrow seas, may be lighted by flashing lights of fourth order or smaller size. Where sectors are requisite, occulting apparatus should be adopted for the main light; or subsidiary lights, fixed or occulting, may be exhibited from the same tower as the main light but at a lower level. In such cases the vertical distance between the high and the low light must be sufficient to avoid commingling of the two beams at any range at which both lights are visible. Such commingling or blending is due to atmospheric aberration.

Range of Lights.—The range of a light depends first on its elevation above sea-level and secondly on its intensity. Most important lights are of sufficient power to render them visible at the full geographical range in clear weather. On the other hand there are many harbour and other lights which do not meet this condition.

The distances given in lists of lights from which lights are visible—except in the cases of lights of low power for the reason given above—are usually calculated in nautical miles as seen from a height of 15 ft. above sea-level, the elevation of the lights being taken as above high water. Under certain atmospheric conditions, and especially with the more powerful lights, the glare of the light may be visible considerably beyond the calculated range.

Table III.Distances at which Objects can be seen at Sea, according to their Respective Elevations and the Elevation of the Eye of the Observer. (A. Stevenson.)

in Feet.
Distances in
or Nautical
in Feet.
Distances in
or Nautical
 5 2.565 110 12.03
10 3.628 120 12.56
15 4.443 130 13.08
20 5.130 140 13.57
25 5.736 150 14.02
30 6.283 200 16.22
35 6.787 250 18.14
40 7.255 300 19.87
45 7.696 350 21.46
50 8.112 400 22.94
55 8.509 450 24.33
60 8.886 500 25.65
65 9.249 550 26.90
70 9.598 600 28.10
75 9.935 650 29.25
80 10.26  700 30.28
85 10.57  800 32.45
90 10.88  900 34.54
95 11.18  1000  36.28
100  11.47     

Example: A tower 200 ft. high will be visible 20.66 nautical miles to an observer, whose eye is elevated 15 ft. above the water; thus, from the table:

15 ft. elevation, distance visible 4.44 nautical miles
200 16.22
Fig. 50.—Spar Gas Buoy.

Elevation of Lights.—The elevation of the light above sea-level need not, in the case of landfall lights, exceed 200 ft., which is sufficient to give a range of over 20 nautical miles. One hundred and fifty feet is usually sufficient for coast lights. Lights placed on high headlands are liable to be enveloped in banks of fog at times when at a lower level the atmosphere is comparatively clear (e.g. Beachy Head). No definite rule can, however, be laid down, and local circumstances, such as configuration of the coast line, must be taken into consideration in every case.

Choice of Site.—“Landfall” stations should receive first consideration and the choice of location for such a light ought never to be made subservient to the lighting of the approaches to a port. Subsidiary lights are available for the latter purpose. Lights installed to guard shoals, reefs or other dangers should, when practicable, be placed seaward of the danger itself, as it is desirable that seamen should be able to “make” the light with confidence. Sectors marking dangers 646 seaward of the light should not be employed except when the danger is in the near vicinity of the light. Outlying dangers require marking by a light placed on the danger or by a floating light in its vicinity.

9. Illuminated Buoys.Gas Buoys. Pintsch’s oil gas has been in use for the illumination of buoys since 1878. In 1883 an automatic occulter was perfected, worked by the gas passing from the reservoir to the burner. The lights placed on these buoys burn continuously for three or more months. The buoys and lanterns are made in various forms and sizes. The spar buoy (fig. 50) may be adopted for situations where strong tides or currents prevail. Oil gas lights are frequently fitted to Courtenay whistling (fig. 51) and bell buoys.

In the ordinary type of gas buoy lantern the burner employed is of the multiple-jet, Argand ring, or incandescent type. Incandescent mantles have been applied to buoy lights in France with successful results. Since 1906, and more recently the same system of illumination has been adopted in England and other countries. The lenses employed are of cylindrical dioptric fixed-light form, usually 100 mm. to 300 mm. diameter. Some of the largest types of gas-buoy in use on the French coast have an elevation from water level to the focal plane of over 26 ft. with a beam intensity of more than 1000 candles. A large gas-buoy with an elevation of 34 ft. to the focal plane was placed at the entrance to the Gironde in 1907. It has an incandescent burner and exhibits a light of over 1500 candles. Oil gas forms the most trustworthy and efficient illuminant for buoy purposes yet introduced, and the system has been largely adopted by lighthouse and harbour authorities.

There are now over 2000 buoys fitted with oil gas apparatus, in addition to 600 beacons, light-vessels and boats.

Electric Lit Buoys.—Buoys have been fitted with electric light, both fixed and occulting. Six electrically lit spar-buoys were laid down in the Gedney channel, New York lower bay, in 1888. These were illuminated by 100 candle-power Swan lamps with continuous current supplied by cable from a power station on shore. The wear and tear of the cables caused considerable trouble and expense. In 1895 alternating current was introduced. The installation was superseded by gas lit buoys in 1904.

Acetylene and Oil Lighted Buoys.—Acetylene has been extensively employed for the lighting of buoys in Canada and in the United States; to a less extent it has also been adopted in other countries. Both the low pressure system, by which the acetylene gas is produced by an automatic generator, and the so-called high pressure system in which purified acetylene is held in solution in a high pressure gasholder filled with asbestos composition saturated with acetone, have been employed for illuminating buoys and beacons. Wigham oil lamps are also used to a limited extent for buoy lighting.

Bell Buoys.—One form of clapper actuated by the roll of the buoy (shown in fig. 52) consists of a hardened steel ball placed in a horizontal phosphor-bronze cylinder provided with rubber buffers. Three of these cylinders are arranged around the mouth of the fixed bell, which is struck by the balls rolling backwards and forwards as the buoy moves. Another form of bell mechanism consists of a fixed bell with three or more suspended clappers placed externally which strike the bell when the buoy rolls.

Fig. 51.—Courtenay’s Automatic Whistling Buoy.

A, Cylinder, 27 ft. 6 in. long.

B, Mooring shackle.

C, Rudder.

D, Buoy.

E, Diaphragm.

F, Ball valves.

G, Air inlet tubes.

H, Air (compressed outlet tube to whistle).

I, Compressed air inlet to buoy.

K, Manhole.

L, Steps.

N, Whistle.

10. Fog Signals.—The introduction of coast fog signals is of comparatively recent date. They were, until the middle of the 19th century, practically unknown except so far as a few isolated bells and guns were concerned. The increasing demands of navigation, and the application of steam power to the propulsion of ships resulting in an increase of their speed, drew attention to the necessity of providing suitable signals as aids to navigation during fog and mist. In times of fog the mariner can expect no certain assistance from even the most efficient system of coast lighting, since the beams of light from the most powerful electric lighthouse are frequently entirely dispersed and absorbed by the particles of moisture, forming a sea fog of even moderate density, at a distance of less than a ¼ m. from the shore. The careful experiments and scientific research which have been devoted to the subject of coast fog-signalling have produced much that is useful and valuable to the mariner, but unfortunately the practical results so far have not been so satisfactory as might be desired, owing to (1) the very short range of the most powerful signals yet produced under certain unfavourable acoustic conditions of the atmosphere, (2) the difficulty experienced by the mariner in judging at any time how far the atmospheric conditions are against him in listening for the expected signal, and (3) the difficulty in locating the position of a sound signal by phonic observations.

Fig. 52.—Buoy Bell.

Bells and Gongs are the oldest and, generally speaking, the least efficient forms of fog signals. Under very favourable acoustic conditions the sounds are audible at considerable ranges. On the other hand, 2-ton bells have been inaudible at distances of a few hundred yards. The 1893 United States trials showed that a bell weighing 4000 ℔ struck by a 450 ℔ hammer was heard at a distance of 14 m. across a gentle breeze and at over 9 m. against a 10-knot breeze. Bells are frequently used for beacon and buoy signals, and in some cases at isolated rock and other stations where there is insufficient accommodation for sirens and horns, but their use is being gradually discontinued in this country for situations where a 647 powerful signal is required. Gongs, usually of Chinese manufacture, were formerly in use on board English light-ships and are still used to some extent abroad. These are being superseded by more powerful sound instruments.

Explosive Signals.—Guns were long used at many lighthouse and light-vessel stations in England, and are still in use in Ireland and at some foreign stations. These are being gradually displaced by other explosive or compressed air signals. No explosive signals are in use on the coasts of the United States. In 1878 sound rockets charged with gun-cotton were first used at Flamborough Head and were afterwards supplied to many other stations.5 The nitrated gun-cotton or tonite signals now in general use are made up in 4 oz. charges. These are hung at the end of an iron jib or pole attached to the lighthouse lantern or other structure, and fired by means of a detonator and electric battery. The discharge may take place within 12 ft. of a structure without danger. The cartridges are stored for a considerable period without deterioration and with safety. This form of signal is now very generally adopted for rock and other stations in Great Britain, Canada, Newfoundland, northern Europe and other parts of the world. An example will be noticed in the illustration of the Bishop Rock lighthouse, attached to the lantern (fig. 13). Automatic hoisting and firing appliances are also in use.

Whistles.—Whistles, whether sounded by air or steam, are not used in Great Britain, except in two instances of harbour signals under local control. It has been objected that their sound has too great a resemblance to steamers’ whistles, and they are wasteful of power. In the United States and Canada they are largely used. The whistle usually employed consists of a metallic dome or bell against which the high-pressure steam impinges. Rapid vibrations are set up both in the metal of the bell and in the internal air, producing a shrill note. The Courtenay buoy whistle, already referred to, is an American invention and finds favour in the United States, France, Germany and elsewhere.

Reed-Horns.—These instruments in their original form were the invention of C. L. Daboll, an experimental horn of his manufacture being tried in 1851 by the United States Lighthouse Board. In 1862 the Trinity House adopted the instrument for seven land and light-vessel stations. For compressing air for the reed-horns as well as sirens, caloric, steam, gas and oil engines have been variously used, according to local circumstances. The reed-horn was improved by Professor Holmes, and many examples from his designs are now in use in England and America. At the Trinity House experiments with fog signals at St Catherine’s (1901) several types of reed-horn were experimented with. The Trinity House service horn uses air at 15 ℔ pressure with a consumption of .67 cub. ft. per second and 397 vibrations. A small manual horn of the Trinity House type consumes .67 cub. ft. of air at 5 ℔ pressure. The trumpets of the latter are of brass.

Fig. 53.—St Catherine’s Double-noted Siren.

Sirens.—The most powerful and efficient of all compressed air fog signals is the siren. The principle of this instrument may be briefly explained as follows:—It is well known that if the tympanic membrane is struck periodically and with sufficient rapidity by air impulses or waves a musical sound is produced. Robinson was the first to construct an instrument by which successive puffs of air under pressure were ejected from the mouth of a pipe. He obtained this effect by using a stop-cock revolving at high speed in such a manner that 720 pulsations per second were produced by the intermittent escape of air through the valves or ports, a smooth musical note being given. Cagniard de la Tour first gave such an instrument the name of siren, and constructed it in the form of an air chamber with perforated lid or cover, the perforations being successively closed and opened by means of a similarly perforated disk fitted to the cover and revolving at high speed. The perforations being cut at an angle, the disk was self-rotated by the oblique pressure of the air in escaping through the slots. H. W. Dove and Helmholtz introduced many improvements, and Brown of New York patented, about 1870, a steam siren with two disks having radial perforations or slots. The cylindrical form of the siren now generally adopted is due to Slight, who used two concentric cylinders, one revolving within the other, the sides being perforated with vertical slots. To him is also due the centrifugal governor largely used to regulate the speed of rotation of the siren. Over the siren mouth is placed a conical trumpet to collect and direct the sound in the desired direction. In the English service these trumpets are generally of considerable length and placed vertically, with bent top and bell mouth. Those at St Catherine’s are of cast-iron with copper bell mouth, and have a total axial length of 22 ft. They are 5 in. in diameter at the siren mouth, the bell mouth being 6 ft. in diameter. At St Catherine’s the sirens are two in number, 5 in. in diameter, being sounded simultaneously and in unison (fig. 53). Each siren is provided with ports for producing a high note as well as a low note, the two notes being sounded in quick succession once every minute. The trumpet mouths are separated by an angle of 120° between their axes. This double form has been adopted in certain instances where the angle desired to be covered by the sound is comparatively wide. In Scotland the cylindrical form is used generally, either automatically or motor driven. By the latter means the admission of air to the siren can be delayed until the cylinder is rotating at full speed, and a much sharper sound is produced than in the case of the automatic type. The Scottish trumpets are frequently constructed so that the greater portion of the length is horizontal. The Girdleness trumpet has an axial length of 16 ft., 11 ft. 6 in. being horizontal. The trumpet is capable of being rotated through an angle as well as dipped below the horizon. It is of cast-iron, no bell mouth is used, and the conical mouth is 4 ft. in diameter. In France the sirens are cylindrical and very similar to the English self-driven type. The trumpets have a short axial length, 4 ft. 6 in., and are of brass, with bent bell mouth. The Trinity House has in recent years reintroduced the use of disk sirens, with which experiments are still being carried out both in the United Kingdom and abroad. For light-vessels and rock stations where it is desired to distribute the sound equally in all directions the mushroom-head trumpet is occasionally used. The Casquets trumpet of this type is 22 ft. in length, of cast-iron, with a mushroom top 6 ft. in diameter. In cases where neither the mushroom trumpet nor the twin siren is used the single bent trumpet is arranged to rotate through a considerable angle. Table IV. gives particulars of a few typical sirens of the most recent form.

Table IV.

Station. Description. Vibrations per sec. Sounding Pressure in lb per sq. in. Cub. ft. of air used per sec. of blast reduced to atmospheric pressure. Remarks.
    High. Low.   High. Low.  

St Catherine’s (Trinity House)

Two 5-in. cylindrical, automatically driven sirens

295 182 25  32 16

The air consumption is for 2 sirens.

Girdleness (N.L.C)

7-in. cylindrical siren, motor driven

234 100 30 130 26  

Casquets (Trinity House)

7-in. disk siren, motor driven

..  98 25 .. 36  

French pattern siren

6-in. cylindrical siren, automatically driven

326 .. 28  14 ..

A uniform note of 326 vibrations per sec. has now been adopted generally in France.

Since the first trial of the siren at the South Foreland in 1873 a very large number of these instruments have been established both at lighthouse stations and on board light-vessels. In all cases in Great Britain and France they are now supplied with air compressed by steam or other mechanical power. In the United States and some other countries steam, as well as compressed air, sirens are in use.

Diaphones.—The diaphone is a modification of the siren, which has been largely used in Canada since 1903 in place of the siren. It is claimed that the instrument emits a note of more constant pitch than does the siren. The distinction between the two instruments is that in the siren a revolving drum or disk alternately opens and closes elongated air apertures, while in the diaphone a piston pulsating at high velocity serves to alternately cover and uncover air slots in a cylinder.

The St Catherine’s Experiments.—Extensive trials were carried out during 1901 by the Trinity House at St Catherine’s lighthouse, Isle of Wight, with several types of sirens and reed-horns. Experiments 648 were also made with different pattern of trumpets, including forms having elliptical sections, the long axis being placed vertically. The conclusions of the committee may be briefly summarized as follows: (1) When a large arc requires to be guarded two fixed trumpets suitably placed are more effective than one large trumpet capable of being rotated. (2) When the arc to be guarded is larger than that effectively covered by two trumpets, the mushroom-head trumpet is a satisfactory instrument for the purpose. (3) A siren rotated by a separate motor yields better results than when self-driven. (4) No advantage commensurate with the additional power required is obtained by the use of air at a higher pressure than 25 ℔ per sq. in. (5) The number of vibrations per second produced by the siren or reed should be in unison with the proper note of the associated trumpet. (6) When two notes of different pitch are employed the difference between these should, if possible, be an octave. (7) For calm weather a low note is more suitable than a high note, but when sounding against the wind and with a rough and noisy sea a high note has the greater range. (8) From causes which cannot be determined at the time or predicted beforehand, areas sometimes exist in which the sounds of fog signals may be greatly enfeebled or even lost altogether. This effect was more frequently observed during comparatively calm weather and at no great distance from the signal station. (It has often been observed that the sound of a signal may be entirely lost within a short distance of the source, while heard distinctly at a greater distance and at the same time.) (9) The siren was the most effective signal experimented with; the reed-horn, although inferior in power, is suitable for situations of secondary importance. (No explosive signals were under trial during the experiments.) (10) A fog signal, owing to the uncertainty attending its audibility, must be regarded only as an auxiliary aid to navigation which cannot at all times be relied upon.

Submarine Bell Signals.—As early as 1841 J. D. Colladon conducted experiments on the lake of Geneva to test the suitability of water as a medium for transmission of sound signals and was able to convey distinctly audible sounds through water for a distance of over 21 m., but it was not until 1904 that any successful practical application of this means of signalling was made in connexion with light-vessels. There are at present (1910) over 120 submarine bells in service, principally in connexion with light-vessels, off the coasts of the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Germany, France and other countries. These bells are struck by clappers actuated by pneumatic or electrical mechanism. Other submerged bells have been fitted to buoys and beacon structures, or placed on the sea bed; in the former case the bell is actuated by the motion of the buoy and in others by electric current, transmitted by cable from the shore. In some cases, when submarine bells are associated with gas buoys or beacons, the compressed gas is employed to actuate the bell striking mechanism. To take full advantage of the signals thus provided it is necessary for ships approaching them to be fitted with special receiving mechanism of telephonic character installed below the water line and in contact with the hull plating. The signals are audible by the aid of ear pieces similar to ordinary telephone receivers. Not only can the bell signals be heard at considerable distances—frequently over 10 m.—and in all conditions of weather, but the direction of the bell in reference to the moving ship can be determined within narrow limits. The system is likely to be widely extended and many merchant vessels and war ships have been fitted with signal receiving mechanism.

The following table (V.) gives the total numbers of fog signals of each class in use on the 1st of January 1910 in certain countries.

Table V.

  Sirens. Diaphone. Horns,
Trumpets, &c.
Whistles. Explosive
(tonite, &c.).
Guns. Bells. Gongs. Submarine
Power. Manual.
England and Channel Islands 44 .. 27 31  2 15 .. 48 10 16 193
Scotland and Isle of Man 35 ..  6  2 ..  5 .. 16  3 ..  67
Ireland 12 ..  2  6 .. 11 3 11 ..  3  48
France 12 ..  7  1 ..  1 .. 25 ..  2  48
United States (excluding inland                      
 lakes and rivers) 43 .. 35 15 59 .. .. 218   1 36 407
British North America (excluding                      
 inland lakes and rivers)  6 66  5 79 16  8 .. 24 .. 11 215

When two kinds of signal are employed at any one station, one being subsidiary, the latter is omitted from the enumeration. Buoy and unattended beacon bells and whistles are also omitted, but local port and harbour signals not under the immediate jurisdiction of the various lighthouse boards are included, more especially in Great Britain.

11. Lighthouse Administration. The principal countries of the world possess organized and central authorities responsible for the installation and maintenance of coast lights and fog signals, buoys and beacons.

United Kingdom.—In England the corporation of Trinity House, or according to its original charter, “The Master Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity and of St Clement, in the Parish of Deptford Strond, in the county of Kent,” existed in the reign of Henry VII. as a religious house with certain duties connected with pilotage, and was incorporated during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1565 it was given certain rights to maintain beacons, &c., but not until 1680 did it own any lighthouses. Since that date it has gradually purchased most of the ancient privately owned lighthouses and has erected many new ones. The act of 1836 gave the corporation control of English coast lights with certain supervisory powers over the numerous local lighting authorities, including the Irish and Scottish Boards. The corporation now consists of a Master, Deputy-master, and 22 Elder Brethren (10 of whom are honorary), together with an unlimited number of Younger Brethren, who, however, perform no executive duties. In Scotland and the Isle of Man the lights are under the control of the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses constituted in 1786 and incorporated in 1798. The lighting of the Irish coast is in the hands of the Commissioners of Irish Lights formed in 1867 in succession to the old Dublin Ballast Board. The principal local light boards in the United Kingdom are the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and the Clyde Lighthouse Trustees. The three general lighthouse boards of the United Kingdom, by the provision of the Mercantile Marine Act of 1854, are subordinate to the Board of Trade, which controls all finances.

On the 1st of January 1910 the lights, fog signals and submarine bells in service under the control of the several authorities in the United Kingdom were as follows:

Trinity House 116 51 97 12
Northern Lighthouse Commissioners 138  5 44 ..
Irish Lights Commissioners  93 11 35  3
Mersey Docks and Harbour Board  16  6 13  2
Admiralty  31  2  6 ..
Clyde Lighthouse Trustees  14  1  5 ..
Other local lighting authorities 809 11 89  2
Totals 1217  87 289  19

Some small harbour and river lights of subsidiary character are not included in the above total.

United States.—The United States Lighthouse Board was constituted by act of Congress in 1852. The Secretary of Commerce and Labor is the ex-officio president. The board consists of two officers of the navy, two engineer officers of the army, and two civilian scientific members, with two secretaries, one a naval officer, the other an officer of engineers in the army. The members are appointed by the president of the United States. The coast-line of the states, with the lakes and rivers and Porto Rico, is divided into 16 executive districts for purposes of administration.

The following table shows the distribution of lighthouses, light-vessels, &c., maintained by the lighthouse board in the United States in June 1909. In addition there are a few small lights and buoys privately maintained.

Lighthouses and beacon lights 1333
Light-vessels in position 53
Light-vessels for relief 13
Gas lighted buoys in position 94
Fog signals operated by steam or oil engines 228
Fog signals operated by clockwork, &c. 205
Submarine signals 43
Post lights 2333
Day or unlighted beacons 1157
Bell buoys in position 169
Whistling buoys in position 94
Other buoys 5760
Steam tenders 51
Constructional Staff 318
Light keepers; and light attendants 3137
Officers and crews of light-vessels and tenders 1693

France.—The lighthouse board of France is known as the Commission des Phares, dating from 1792 and remodelled in 1811, and is under the direction of the minister of public works. It consists of four engineers, two naval officers and one member of the Institute, one inspector-general of marine engineers, and one hydrographic engineer. The chief executive officers are an Inspecteur Général des Ponts et Chaussées, who is director of the board, and another engineer of the same corps, who is engineer-in-chief and secretary. The board has control of about 750 lights, including those of Corsica, Algeria, &c. A similar system has been established in Spain.


Table VI.Electric Lighthouse Apparatus.

Name. Characteristic. Period. Duration of Flash. Candle-power (Service Intensity). Focal Distance of Lens. Ratio of Angular Breadth of Panel to Whole Circle. Current. Voltage. Carbons. Electric Generators. Lamps. Engins. Elevation above High Water. Year Established. Remarks.
    Secs. Secs. Standard Candles. mm.   Amps.   mm.       Feet.    

United Kingdom


Souter Point

Single flash 30 5 Candle-power not officially determined. 500 1 : 8 .. 40 17 Holmes machines, alternating (400 revs.) Serrin Steam 150 1871

Fixed light apparatus, with revolving vertical condensing lenses in eight panels.

South Foreland

Single flash 2.5 .35 700 1 : 16 .. 40 26 do. Serrin Steam 374 1904

Lens elements only; 97° vertical angle. (This apparatus was in use at St Catherine’s, 1888 to 1904, and replaced the two fixed electric lights established in 1872.)


Single flash 3 .13 700 1 : 4 145 for 50 mm. carbons 40 50 and 60 fluted De Meritens alternators (600 revs.) Modified Berjot-Serrin Oil engines 230 1903

Mercury rotation; vertical angle, 139°. Replaced the two fixed electric lights erected in 1878.

St Catherine’s
(Isle of Wight)

Single flash 5 .21 700 1 : 4 145 for 50 mm. carbons 40 50 and 60 fluted do. do. 2 Steam, each 50 h.p. 136 1904

Mercury rotation; vertical angle, 139°.

Isle of May
(Firth of Forth)

4 flash 30 .4 700 (Fixed apparatus) 1 : 8 220 40 40 do. Berjot-Serrin Steam 240 1886

Fixed light apparatus, with revolving vertical condensing lenses.



(Strait of Dover)

2 flash 10 .2 to .4 3,500,000 to 6,500,000 300 1 : 12 30 and 60 45 14 and 18 2 De Meritens alternators, each of 5.5 k.w. (550 revs.) Improved Serrin 2 Semi-portable steam, each 30 i.h.p. 193 1902

Twelve panels in groups of two. (This apparatus was in use at Barfleur, 1893 to 1902.)

(Strait of Dover)
[Les Baleines (1882) similar]

4 flash 15 .75 900,000 300 1 : 24 60 45 18 do. French Service pattern (1902) do. 190 1883

Fixed light apparatus, with revolving vertical condensing prisms.

Cap Gris-nez
(Strait of Dover)

Single flash 5 .10 to .14 15,000,000 to 30,000,000 300 1 : 4 60 to 120 45 18 and 28 do. do. Steam 233 1899

Twin optic, mercury rotation. (This light superseded a triple-flashing electric light, with intermediate red flash, of the Calais type, established in 1885. The first installation of the electric light at this station was in 1869.)

La Canche
(Strait of Dover)

2 flash 10 .10 to .14 15,000,000 to 30,000,000 300 1 : 4 30 to 60 45 14 and 18 do. do. do. 174 1900

Twin optic, mercury rotation. (This light superseded a fixed electric light established in 1884.)

Cap de la Hève
(Havre, English Channel)
[Île d’Yeu in the Bay of Biscay (1895) similar]

Single flash 5 .10 to .14 10,000,000 to 20,000,000 300 1 : 4 60 to 120 45 18 and 28 De Meritens alternators (550 revs.) Improved Serrin do. 397 1893

Mercury rotation. (The first installation of electric light at this lighthouse was in 1863.)

Créac’h d’Ouessant
[Barfleur (English Channel) 1903, La Coubre (Bay of Biscay) 1905, and Belle Île (Bay of Biscay) 1903, similar]

2 flash 10 .10 to .14 15,000,000 to 30,000,000 300 1 : 4 60 to 120 45 18 and 28 2 De Meritens alternators, each of 5.5 k.w. (550 revs.) French Service pattern (1902) do. 225 1901

Twin optic, mercury rotation. (This light superseded a double-flashing electric light, similar to that now at Dunkerque, established in 1888.)

(Phare d’Eckmühl)

Single flash 5 .10 to .14 15,000,000 to 30,000,000 300 1 : 4 30 and 60 45 14 and 18 Two-phase Labour alternators (810 to 820 revs.) do. do. 197 1897

Twin optic, mercury rotation.

(near Marseilles)

Single flash 5 .10 to .14 15,000,000 to 30,000,000 300 1 : 4 30 to 60 45 14 to 18 De Meritens alternators (550 revs.) do. do. 207 1902

Twin optic, mercury rotation. (This light superseded an electric light established in 1881, showing a group of three white flashes separated by one red flash of the Calais type.)



(Gulf of Spezia)

3 flash 30 1.25 Undetermined. 700 1 : 24 50 110 200 50 15 25 35 do.
(830 revs.)
Berjot-Serrin do. 384 1885

Eight panels of three lenses each, no mirror.



(Entrance to New York Bay)

Single flash 5 .08 About 60,000,000 700 Nearly 1 : 2 Max. 100 50 23 Alternating dynamos (800 revs.) Modified Serrin (Ciolina) Oil, each 25 h.p. 246 1898

Mercury rotation. Bivalve of 165°.



(Sydney, N.S.W.)

Single flash 60 8 5,000,000 920 1 : 16 55 110 50 15 25 De Meritens alternators (600 revs.) Serrin Gas 345 1883

16-panel revolving apparatus, with 180° fixed mirror.


Table VII.Typical Non-Electric Lighthouse Apparatus.

Name. Locality. Characteristic. Period. Duration of Flashes. Candle-Power in Standard Candles (Service Intensity). Focal Distance of Lens. Ratio of Angular Breadth of Panel to Whole Circle. Illuminant. Burner. Service Candle-power of Burner. Height above High Water. Year Established.* Remarks.
      Secs. Secs.   mm.         Feet.    
Casquets Channel Islands 3 flash 30 1.5 185,000 920 1 : 9 Incandescent petroleum vapour “Matthews” 3-50 mm. dia. mantles 3300 120 1877

Dioptric holophote, 126½° vertical angle; 3 sides of 3 panels in each.

Eddystone South Devon 2 flash 30 1.5 292,000 920 1 : 12 do. do. 3300 133 1882

Biform apparatus, lens elements only, 92° vertical angle; 6 sides of 2 panels each.

Bishop Rock Scilly Isles 2 flash 60 4.0 622,000 1330 1 : 10 do. do. 3300 134 1886

Biform apparatus, lens elements only, 80° vertical angle; 5 sides of 2 panels each.

Spurn Point Yorkshire Single flash 20 1.5 519,000 1330 1 : 6 do. do. 3300 120 1895

Lens elements only, 80° vertical angle.

Lundy Island Bristol Channel 2 flash 20 .33 374,000 920 Nearly 1 : 4 do. do. 3300 165 1897

Mercury rotation, 4-panel bivalve.
[St. Mary’s Isle, Northumberland (1898), is similar.]

Pendeen Cornwall 4 flash 15 .25 190,000 920 1 : 8 do. do. 3300 195 1900

80° vertical angle lens, 2 sides of 4 panels each, mercury rotation.

Roker Pier Sunderland Single flash 5 .10 175,000 500 Nearly 1 : 2 do. “Chance” 55 mm. dia. mantle 1200 83 1903

Mercury rotation; univalve 164° in azimuth, with 164° dioptric mirror in rear.

Bell Rock Near Firth of Tay Red and white flashes alternately every 30 secs. 60 .50 392,000 920 and 1330 White about 1 : 9 red about 1 : 2.2 do. “Chance” 55 mm. dia. mantle 1200 93 1902

Combined hyper-radial and first-order light with back prisms in white and mirrors in red. Revolves in 60 secs.
[Holy Island, 1905 (Lamlash), similar, flash every 15 secs.]

Kinnaird’s Head Aberdeenshire Single flash 15 .50 881,000 920 and 1330 1 : 2.2 do. do. 2150 120 1903

Composite apparatus; panels of 1330 mm. and 920 mm. focal distance; 2 faces.

Tarbet Ness Dornoch Firth 6 flash 30 .50 89,000 700 1 : 12 do. “Chance” 55 mm. dia. mantle 1200 175 1892

6 panels (lens) of 30° with 180° mirror.
[Douglas Head (Isle of Man) similar.]

Sule Skerry West of Orkneys 3 flash 30 1.0 378,000 1330 1 : 9 do. “Chance” 85 mm. dia. mantle 2150 113 1895

Equiangular lenses.

Pladda South end of Arran Island 3 flash 30 .50 597,000 1330 1 : 6 do. do. 2150 130 1901

3 equiangular lens panels with mirror in rear; side panels eccentric.
[Hyskin Rocks (1904) similar.]

Tory Island Co. Donegal 3 flash 60 3.0 17,000 to 326,000 1330 1 : 6 Coal Gas Wigham, 108 jets (maximum) 2300 (max.) 130 1887

Triform apparatus, vertical angle of lenses 65°; 6 sides, one revolution in 6 minutes. The single flash from lens is divided by eclipsing burner into 3 flashes.

Fastnet Co. Cork Single flash 5 .17 750,000 920 1 : 4 Incandescent petroleum vapour Irish pattern 50 mm. mantle 1200 160 1904

Biform apparatus; 4 panels of 90° vertical angle and 90° in azimuth; mercury rotation.

Kinsale do. 2 flash 10 .25 460,000 920 1 : 6 do. do. 1200 236 1907

Biform apparatus, 3 sides each of 2 panels; vertical angle 96°; mercury rotation.
[St. John’s Point, Co. Down (1908) similar, period 7.5 secs.]

Howth Bailey Dublin Bay Single flash 30 1.0 950,000 920 13 : 32 do. Irish pattern 3-50 mm. dia. mantles 3300 134 1902

Bivalve apparatus; panels of 147° in azimuth and 122° vertical angle; mercury rotation.

Chassiron Bay of Biscay Single flash 10 1.0 70,000 920 1 : 8 Oil 6 wick 480 164 1891

The old first-order apparatus has been utilized in all cases.

.50 180,000 920 1 : 8 Incandescent oil gas 30 mm. dia. mantle 400 164 1895
.70 360,000 920 1 : 8 Incandescent acetylene 55 mm. dia. mantle 1300 164 1902
Cap d’Antifer English Channel Single flash 20 1.0 400,000 1330 1 : 6 Incandescent petroleum vapour French pattern 85 mm. mantle 2150 394 1894

Mercury rotation, hyper-radial apparatus with reflecting prisms. This is the only apparatus of this focal distance on the French coast.

Île de Batz Finistère 4 flash 25 .37 200,000 920 1 : 8 do. do. 2150 223 1900

Group-flashing apparatus; 4 panels of 45°, with 180° mirror in rear; mercury rotation.

Ar’men do. 3 flash 20 .38 200,000 700 1 : 5 do. do. 2150 94 1897

Mercury rotation; 3 panels, mirror in rear.

Villefranche Mediterranean Single flash 5 .38 250,000 700 1 : 4 do. do. 2150 229 1902

Mercury rotation.

Île Vierge Finistère Single flash 5 .38 500,000 700 1 : 4 do. do. 2150 252 1902

Twin optic; mercury rotation.

Kennery Island Bombay 2 flash 10 .25 250,000 920 Nearly 1:4 do. 70 mm. dia. mantle 1400 153 1902

Mercury rotation; bivalve apparatus; 2 double-flashing 170° panels.

Cape Race Newfoundland Single flash 7.5 .30 1,100,000 1330 1 : 4 do. “Chance” 85 mm. dia. mantle 2150 165 1907

4 panels, vertical angle 121½°; mercury rotation.
[Manora Point, Karachi, 1909, similar.]

Pachena Point British Columbia 2 flash 7.5 .44 220,000 920 1 : 8 do. do. 2150 .. 1908

Mercury rotation. 4 sides of 2 panels each.

Cape Hermes Cape Colony Single flash 3 .31 30,000 250 1 : 3 do. “Chance” 55 mm. dia. mantle 1200 175 1904

3 panels, vertical angle 150°; mercury rotation.

Hood Point do. 4 flash 40 .58 200,000 920 1 : 8 do. “Chance” 85 mm. dia. mantle 2150 180 1895

Mercury rotation; 4 panels of 45° in azimuth and 80° vertical angle, with catadioptric mirror in rear.

Cape Naturaliste West Australia 2 flash 10 .15 450,000 920 About 1 : 3 do. do. 2150 404 1904

Mercury rotation; 2 lenses of 126½° in azimuth, with mirror of 107°.

Point Cloates do. Single flash 5 .30 300,000 700 1 : 3 do. do. 2150 190 1909

Mercury rotation; 3 panels, each 120° in azimuth and 133½° vertical angle.

Pecks Ledge Connecticut, U.S.A. 2 flash 30 .50 10,000 250 1 : 4 do. 34 mm. dia. mantle 300 54 1906

Rotated on ball bearings. 2 lenses of 90° each and mirror.

Fire Island New York, U.S.A. Single flash 60 4.0 250,000 920 1 : 8 do. 55 mm. dia. mantle 1000 167 1858

Rotated on roller bearings.

Gray’s Harbor Washington, Pacific Coast, U.S.A. Alternating red and white flashes 5 .20 White 10,000 red 8,000 500 .. Oil 3 wick 160 122 1898

Mercury rotation; one (red) lens of 170° in azimuth, reinforced by two 60° mirrors; one (white) lens of 60° in azimuth.

* The dates given are of the establishment of the optical apparatus. In many cases incandescent burners have been installed at later dates.

651 English Colonies.—In Canada the coast lighting is in the hands of the minister of marine, and in most other colonies the public works departments have control of lighthouse matters.

Other Countries.—In Denmark, Austria, Holland, Russia, Sweden, Norway and many other countries the minister of marine has charge of the lighting and buoying of coasts; in Belgium the public works department controls the service.

In the Trinity House Service at shore lighthouse stations there are usually two keepers, at rock stations three or four, one being ashore on leave. When there is a fog signal at a station there is usually an additional keeper, and at electric light stations a mechanical engineer is also employed as principal keeper. The crews of light-vessels as a rule consist of 11 men, three of them and the master or mate going on shore in rotation.

The average annual cost of maintenance of an English shore lighthouse, with two keepers, is £275. For shore lighthouses with three keepers and a siren fog signal the average cost is £444. The maintenance of a rock lighthouse with four keepers and an explosive fog signal is about £760, and an electric light station costs about £1100 annually to maintain.

A light-vessel of the ordinary type in use in the United Kingdom entails an annual expenditure on maintenance of approximately £1320, excluding the cost of periodical overhaul.

Authorities.—Smeaton, Eddystone Lighthouse (London, 1793); A. Fresnel, Mémoire sur un nouveau system d’éclairage des phares (Paris, 1822); R. Stevenson, Bell Rock Lighthouse (Edinburgh, 1824); Alan Stevenson, Skerryvore Lighthouse (1847); Renaud, Mémoire sur l’éclairage et le balisage des côtes de France (Paris, 1864); Allard, Mémoire sur l’intensité et la portée des phares (Paris, 1876); T. Stevenson, Lighthouse Construction and Illumination (London, 1881); Allard, Mémoire sur les phares électriques (Paris, 1881); Renaud, Les Phares (Paris, 1881); Edwards, Our Sea Marks (London, 1884); D. P. Heap, Ancient and Modern Lighthouses (Boston, 1889); Allard, Les Phares (Paris, 1889); Rey, Les Progrès d’éclairage des côtes (Paris, 1898); Williams, Life of Sir J. N. Douglass (London, 1900); J. F. Chance, The Lighthouse Work of Sir Jas. Chance (London, 1902); de Rochemont and Deprez, Cours des travaux maritimes, vol. ii. (Paris, 1902); Ribière, Phares et Signaux maritimes (Paris, 1908); Stevenson, “Isle of May Lighthouse,” Proc. Inst. Mech. Engineers (1887); J. N. Douglass, “Beacon Lights and Fog Signals,” Proc. Roy. Inst. (1889); Ribière, “Propriétés optiques des appareils des phares,” Annales des ponts et chaussées (1894); Preller, “Coast Lighthouse Illumination in France,” Engineering (1896); “Lighthouse Engineering at the Paris Exhibition,” Engineer (1901-1902); N. G. Gedye, “Coast Fog Signals,” Engineer (1902); Trans. Int. Nav. Congress (Paris, 1900, Milan, 1905); Proc. Int. Eng. Congress (Glasgow, 1901, St Louis, 1904); Proc. Int. Maritime Congress (London, 1893); J. T. Chance, “On Optical Apparatus used in Lighthouses,” Proc. Inst. C.E. vol. xxvi.; J. N. Douglass, “The Wolf Rock Lighthouse,” ibid. vol. xxx.; W. Douglass, “Great Basses Lighthouse,” ibid. vol. xxxviii.; J. T. Chance, “Dioptric Apparatus in Lighthouses,” ibid. vol. lii.; J. N. Douglass, “Electric Light applied to Lighthouse Illumination,” ibid. vol. lvii.; W. T. Douglass, “The New Eddystone Lighthouse,” ibid. vol. lxxv.; Hopkinson, “Electric Lighthouses at Macquarie and Tino,” ibid. vol. lxxxvii.; Stevenson, “Ailsa Craig Lighthouse and Fog Signals,” ibid. vol. lxxxix.; W. T. Douglass, “The Bishop Rock Lighthouses,” ibid. vol. cviii.; Brebner, “Lighthouse Lenses,” ibid. vol. cxi.; Stevenson, “Lighthouse Refractors,” ibid. vol. cxvii.; Case, “Beachy Head Lighthouse,” ibid. vol. clix.; Notice sur les appareils d’éclairage (French Lighthouse Service exhibits at Chicago and Paris) (Paris, 1893 and 1900); Report on U.S. Lighthouse Board Exhibit at Chicago (Washington, 1894); Reports of the Lighthouse Board of the United States (Washington, 1852, et seq.); British parliamentary reports, Lighthouse Illuminants (1883, et seq.), Light Dues (1896), Trinity House Fog Signal Committee (1901), Royal Commission on Lighthouse Administration (1908); Mémoires de la Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France, Annales des ponts et chaussées (Paris); Proc. Inst. C. E.; The Engineer; Engineering (passim).

(W. T. D.; N. G. G.)

1 A full account is given in Hermann Thiersch, Pharos Antike, Islam und Occident (1909). See also Minaret.

2 In 1901 one of the lights decided upon in 1886 and installed in 1888—Créac’h d’Ouessant—was replaced by a still more powerful twin apparatus exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Subsequently similar apparatus to that at Créac’h were installed at Gris-Nez, La Canche, Planier, Barfleur, Belle-Île and La Coubre, and the old Dunkerque optic has been replaced by that removed from Belle-Île.

3 Both the Talais and Snouw light-vessels have since been converted into unattended light-vessels.

4 For the purposes of the mariner a light is classed as flashing or occulting solely according to the duration of light and darkness and without any reference to the apparatus employed. Thus, an occulting apparatus, in which the period of darkness is greater than that of light, is classed in the Admiralty “List of Lights” as a “flashing” light.

5 The Flamborough Head rocket was superseded by a siren fog signal in 1908.

Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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