Penzance Lighthouse

Penzance Lighthouse

South Pier, Penzance Harbour


A harbour has been in existence at Penzance since the 14th century, where a small fishing fleet operated. The pier has been repaired and extended as the harbour has been deepened over many years.

The original pier at Penzance was built in 1785 and extended in 1812 and 1853. Albert or North Pier was built in 1846 and was the second longest in Cornwall.

In the period between 1812 and 1840 a number of relatively small scale, but significant, works were completed including the provision of: mooring posts; bollards; capstans; a light; protective timber baulking; new paving; a crane; new access road; protective wall and quay.

The first lighthouse was established in 1817 on the extension of the South Pier but was washed away in a storm in February 1824, also damaging the pier.

The lighthouse was restored following the storm until a replacement was built on the new pier extension. This was first exhibited on 1st August 1855. A fifth-order optic was housed in the lantern. The flashing light displayed a sector light guiding vessels clear of the Gear Rock and Raymond.

Two different types of oil were used for the lamp. The cheaper oil was used for regular use, but in poor weather conditions, a more expensive, longer-burning sperm oil was used to assist the keepers.

Between 1882 and 1884 the western part of the southern pier was incorporated into a wet dock, created by adding a new pier to the north, widening the existing South Pier and inserting gates between. After 1884 the South Pier changed very little and work seems to have included mainly repairs and renewals.

The lighthouse was updated in 1914 when a new electric lamp was installed. The tower is about thirty feet tall giving it a range of 17 miles.

In February 2014 the pier was damaged during a severe storm. The power supply to the lighthouse was cut off, so it was not able to operate for several days.

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