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Lytham Lighthouse.


Stanner Point is a headland in North Lancashire on the north bank of the River Ribble, close to Lytham St. Anne's. In common with many rivers the navigable channels change due to shifting sand banks and silting up.

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1806 for improving the navigation of the River Ribble with powers to place marks, buoys and signal posts near obstructions and particularly at the mouth of the river. In 1830 a further Act increased the powers in relation to the raising of capital and the levying of fees.

The Ribble Navigation Company built a lighthouse in 1848 established on high and dry ground at the headland of the Ribble to assist shipping to the ports of Lytham and Preston. It was almost traditional in design albeit a bit fairy like as if designed for a child's story book. It was 70 feet high, circular and built of stone with two fixed lights. It showed a fixed white light from the lantern room on the top and a fixed red light from a protruding balcony window about midway down the tower.

The lighthouse served its purpose well for 15 years but by 1863 the sea had encroached on the land and the lighthouse now bathed its feet on the foreshore with the foundations washed by the high tide. As the sea water sunk into and destroyed the foundations it became necessary to evacuate the tower. In the knowledge that a fearsome gale was approaching the keepers worked until the rising night tide surrounded them but not before they had removed as much as possible from the lighthouse. The lamps continued to burn fiercely that night throughout the storm and in the morning the keepers extinguished them for the last time. The storm and the sea had removed a large part of the foundations and during a lull in the gales as the winds dropped the keepers removed the glasses and all the remaining property, which included lenses, reflectors, apparatus and furniture. They accomplished this by midday by when the waves were again lapping at the foundations and made a further breach exposing the cisterns that contained the oil. They were able to safely remove the oil.

On the third day, at noon, on a Thursday in early February 1863, the sea had its way and the lighthouse slipped gracefully in the swirling waters and disappeared from view.

The Ribble Navigation Company consulted Trinity House and as a short term measure a pile light was established nearby pending the building of a new lighthouse. This was completed in 1865 when a new stone tower was built at Stanner Point, not far from the old lighthouse, but again on high and dry land. It showed one intermittent white light at 81 feet above sea level. The light occulted with ½ minutes of bright light and ½ minute of darkness and was visible for 12 miles. In addition it also showed a bright tide light lower down the tower for about ten years until the new pier, complete with its own navigational tide light, was constructed at Lytham.

Reference works describe this second lighthouse as a black stone tower but by 1897 it is recorded in navigational books as disused and by 1913 it gets no mention whatsoever which leads me to believe that it fell to the same fate as its predecessor as coastal erosion again took its toll.

The 1848 to 1863 lighthouse is prior to the advancement of photography so we must rely on artists' impressions to see what it looked like but the 1865 to 1913 lighthouse is not subject to such restraints and perhaps there is a photograph of it somewhere. For the moment the only image I have of the second is on a piece of souvenir 1894 crested china celebrating a visit to St Anne's on Sea, Lytham.