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Corbiere Lighthouse

Completed in 1874, Corbière Lighthouse was the first such structure in the British Isles to be built entirely from concrete, rather than traditional stone, blockwork. The many lighthouses which are built from stone require complex arrangements of interlocking blocks to prevent the sea from eroding and finally demolishing man’s handiwork. Corbière, on the other hand, has no chinks and fissures for the sea to probe in search of weaknesses, so it has withstood the test of the past 130 years without apparent difficulty. The marine architect Sir John Coode, who designed the lighthouse, can take much of the credit for this, but he was assisted by an engineer, Imre Bell, who turned the plans and Sir John’s concept into the structure we know so well today. With a total elevation above the sea of 135 feet and a tower height of 62 feet, Corbière is not among the giants of the lighthouse world. Nevertheless, it is an imposing building by any standards, especially in its traditional livery of bright white paint. Originally, the lantern, which can be seen at a range of 18 miles in good conditions, was fired by paraffin and required the constant attention of keepers who lived in the tower. Now it is powered by electricity and, since the late 1970s, has required no permanent staff on site. The concrete causeway which links the light’s rock with the coast at Corbière means that it is easy enough to see the structure in close-up at low tide. A klaxon warns the unwary that it is time to make tracks after the tide has turned, but the area is potentially very dangerous. If the light itself has survived without major incident, the same cannot be said of the keepers. On 28 May 1946 one of them, Peter Edwin Larbalestier, was drowned while trying to rescue a holidaymaker who had been cut off by the rising water. A plaque commemorating his bravery can be seen near the landward end of the causeway. Although the light is the principal means of warning ships of the perils of the Island’s south-west coast, a powerful foghorn has been sited at the foot of the tower.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 14, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Neil Grimwood
    • Camera: SONY DSLR-A300
    • Taken on 2012/09/10 10:55:03
    • Exposure: 0.008s (1/125)
    • Focal Length: 45.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/13.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash