The Story of Withernsea Lighthouse

Withernsea’s Lighthouse was built over a period of 18 months back in 1892 because of the high number of shipwrecks that were occurring at Withernsea when vessels couldn’t see the lights at either Spurn or Flamborough.

Rather unusually it was built a quarter of a mile back from the coast with much of the town closer to the sea than the lighthouse. However when the lighthouse was built there were only sand dunes and a mere in front of it. The houses you see today were all built after the promenade was extended along the sea front.

The octagonal lighthouse was not designed to be lived in – the tower has no dividing floors only the spiral staircase leading to the Service and Lamp Rooms at the top. Attached to it are two cottages, these were the lighthouse keepers’ homes and now they contain a museum with displays about the lighthouse and town. In 1936 when the oil light was electrified it had a range of 17 miles.

The original light was an 8 wick paraffin lamp, housed within an octaganol revolving lens. The lens itself weighed an incredible 2 tons and floated in a trough of 3 gallons of mercury.
The controlling mechanism that turned the lens required winding daily by hand, but in 1936 the light was electrified and the paraffin lamp was replaced by a 100 volt, 1500 watt bulb; equivalent to 800,000 candle power!
In the event that the first bulb failed, a second was on standby which was also backed up by a third which would be lit by a bank of 26 rechargeable batteries. There was also a standby generator and the old paraffin lamp was kept as a reserve.

The lighthouse continued to shine it’s beam until the 1st of July 1976 when, after 82 years of invaluable service, the light was no longer needed.

Some interesting facts…

Built: 1892 – 1894
Height: 127ft ( 39 m )
Steps: 144
Made of : Brick & concrete
Designed by : Trinity House
Built by : Strattens of Edinburgh
Last day of use : 1st July 1976