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Saltend Lighthouses.


The river Humber situated in the north east of England seperates Yorkshire from Lincolnshire, and, like the river Thames, it is a rich source of interesting and unuasl lighthouses. In addition it also has more than its fair share of disused and lost lighthouses.

The leading lights (also known as range lights) sited at Saltend on the banks of the River Humber, near Hull in south Yorkshire, were considered by the Brethren of Trinity House, Kingston upon Hull in 1868 and temporary marks were set up and tested. The results were successful and in February 1869 the Brethren submitted their plans to Trinity House in London for the establishment of permanent lighthouses at these two locations. Thompson and Stather of Hull erected all four lighthouses at a cost of £ 1064.

The two lighthouses at Saltend were established in July 1870 and built on the foreshore on land purchased at a cost of £ 30 from the Humber Conservancy Commissioners. They were erected to mark the centre of the deep water channel from the No. 13 Hebbles Buoy to Victoria Dock.

The High Light was constructed of wrought iron girders erected on foundations of masonry. It was a red painted wrought iron cylindrical tower 54 feet high. The circular tower was open lattice at the base for about two thirds of the height with the remainder plated in to form the lantern and storeroom. Access to the lantern was by a spiral staircase inside the open lattice work to the storeroom and then by an iron ladder from the storeroom to the lantern.

A keeper's cottage was built by Messrs. Sisson at a cost of £ 739 11s 2d (which also included the foundations for the high lighthouse) and adjoined the High Light. One of the keepers appointed was Fewson Hopper in 1877 at a salary of £ 55 per annum. Prior to that he was the coxwain of the Spurn lifeboat and father of the landlord, James Hopper, of the Lifeboat Inn at Spurn Point.

The lantern's focal plane was 50 feet above high water. The light was originally powered by capillary wick oil lamps, but converted to electricity in 1926 with the electric current being supplied by the Hull Corporation at an average cost of £ 10 a year. The light was a 300 candle power single bulb transmitted through a holophote prismatic lens assisted by a prismatic reflector, resulting in a beam of 150,000 candle power white fixed bright light being visible 1 ½ miles. It showed an occulting white light of 4 seconds light and 2 seconds eclipse and a fixed white light (catoptric) as a guide to and from the Killingholme lighthouses.

The moveable Low Light was a white painted wrought iron cylindrical tower 22 feet high originally built on a railway trolley. This enabled the light and the trolley sitting on railway lines to be moved 21 feet along a north/south axis on a wooden jetty 334 feet in front of the High Light to take into consideration the constantly changing shape of the sand banks. The focal plane was 28 feet above high water and exhibited a fixed white light. The lights were catoptric; being reflected by silver plated parabolic reflectors 12 ½ inch diameter. In addition to the main light there was a subsidiary red sector light of 5 degrees divergence showing in the direction of the No. 10 (Skitter Sand Elbow) Light Buoy. This light was fixed and consisted of a 100 candlepower bulb with parabolic reflector and gave a nominal range of 1 ½ miles. Prior to that the single catoptric fixed white light was powered by three burners. In 1893 the light was moved a little on its rails in order to maintain a true lead and in 1897 a red sector was added to cover the position of Skitter Sand Elbow buoy.

Both lights were originally controlled by a clockwork switch that needed to be wound on a monthly visit by the attendant, and automatically switched the light on 15 minutes before sunset and off 15 minutes after sunrise. The clockwork mechanism allowed for the correction of the daily variation in time of dawn and sunset.

The High Lighthouse and cottage was painted red every three years and the low lighthouse painted white at the same time. By 1939 the lights were unattended and no keeper was employed. The keeper's cottage was let at an annual rental of £ 20 per annum.

The lights fell into disuse with the building of the new jetties for the British Petroleum Oil Terminal in the 1960s and eventually they were demolished. Although no trace of them exists today the two remaining lights at Thurngumbald, each built to the same design, do remain and on the opposite bank are the three stone lighthouses at Killingholme. I would recommend a pilgrmage to them on your next visit to Hull.