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Visitors to Cornwall are not always aware of the dangers posed by the sea. Most come to this part of Cornwall and see the beautiful beaches and cliffs, when the sea is at its most peaceful.
Cornwall does have great weather for the majority of the time, but several times a year bad storms do occur, mainly during the winter. Additionally there are strong tides and currents, which can drive unwary shipping onto the coast or sea reefs out at sea. Cornwall has been the scene of many hundreds of shipwrecks over the years.
Nowadays technology has eliminated many of the dangers. This was not true of the past, especially when one considers that before the 18th century, shipping charts were incomplete, and did not even exist for all areas.
The main method employed to overcome coastal dangers are lighthouses. These light sources are located near danger areas such as hidden rocks, to act as navigation aids.
There have been light navigation aids in this area since the 14th century. The earliest were beacons, basically a fire. As technology was applied, coal burners were used, followed by oil burners. One of the first of these was located on St. Michael's Mount and operated by the church. Today's lighthouses are electrically powered. Lighthouses were once manned, today they are all now automated.
Automation in the modern context began in the early 1980's, made possible firstly by the construction of lantern top helipads at remote rock lighthouses, to enable the rapid transfer of technicians to a lighthouse in the event of a breakdown - and secondly, by the development of remote control technology which enables all lighthouses and lightvessels to be monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Central Planning Unit, in Harwich, Essex.
|On a rock four miles off St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly
|Built 1858, re-built 1887
|On a rock eight miles off Rame Head
|Built 1698, re-built 1699, 1709, 1759, 1882
|On Catherine's Point, Fowey
|Built 1892, re-located 1904
|On Godrevy Island, St. Ives Bay
|Built 1858, updated 1939
|On shore at Lizard Point
|Built 1619, abandoned 1623, re-built 1751
|On rocks one mile off Land's End
|Built 1795, re-built 1873
|On the southern breakwater at Mevagissey
|On the south pier, Newlyn
|On shore between St. Ives and Land's End
|Built 1900, updated 1926
|On shore on St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly
|Built 1911, updated 1992
|On the south pier, Penzance
|On Spy House Point, Polperro
|On shore on Round Island, Isles of Scilly
|Built 1887, updated 1967
|On shore on St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly
|Built 1680, updated 1790, disused since 1911
|St. Anthony Head
|On shore at the entrance to Falmouth Harbour
|Built 1835, updated 1954
|On Smeaton's pier, St. Ives
|Built 1830, updated 1890
|Seven Stones Lightship
|Moored seven miles north east of the Isles of Scilly
|Built 1841, replaced 1958, 1967 and 2004
|On shore five miles east of Land's End
|Built 1965, updated 1996
|On shore three miles west of Padstow
|Built 1847, updated 1882 and 1912
|On a rock nine miles south west of Land's End
|Built 1869, updated 1955
The National Lighthouse Centre Cornish Lifeboat Stations Cornwall's Shipwrecks Smuggling in Cornwall
The Coastal Footpath The National Coastwatch Institution