Whitby's Forgotten Lighthouse. Photo by Sowtz
All visitors to our town will be familiar with the lighthouses on the harbour piers but Whitby has another, fully operational light on the cliffs behind the Abbey. Whitby High Light was built in 1858 together with another tower, the South Light, nearby. Together they helped ships avoid the Whitby Rock, close to the harbour entrance. The South Light was closed in 1890 when changes were made to make the lighting mechanism more efficient and Whitby High became the main light. Originally running on paraffin, the light was electrified in 1976 and fully automated in 1992.
Still operated by Trinity House from their control centre in Harwich, the tower is only 13m high, however the cliffs put the red and white light 73m above high water and give it a range of 18 nautical miles.
Whitby Hight Light in operation. Photo by Glenn Kilpatrick
You can see lots of early pictures of the Whitby lighthouses and the building of the piers by clicking on the picture above.
The "Whitby Bull" Foghorn. Photo by Sowtz
In addition there was a giant foghorn known as the "Whitby Bull" in a building close to the lighthouse, It was also known as the "Hawsker Bull", after the nearby village. The power supply for the horn was provided by two horizontal 25 horsepower oil engines, working at 210 revolutions per minute. They compressed the vast quantity of air needed to activate the horns, each 20ft long and 8ft high. The horn was finally switched off in 1987 and replaced with an electronic hooter which does not have quite the same character! You can learn more about the lighthouse here and the foghorn here.
STOP PRESS - The Sunday Times picks the lighthouse cottages for the perfect short break:
Although the lighthouse and foghorn buildings are not open to the public you can rent holiday cottages with magnificent views in both locations. The lighthouse has the Vanguard and Galatea cottages and the foghorn house has Hornblower lodge! You can read an excellent Guardian review of Vanguard cottage here.
The West Pier new light.
There are four lights at the mouth of the harbour, the earliest dating from 1831 and the latest added in 1914 when the piers were extended.
Finally take a look at this wonderful film of French lighthouses and the coast around Brittany during the violent storms of December 2007.
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