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Berwick Lighthouse.

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John Rennie built the Berwick upon Tweed pier upon which, at the end, stands England's most northerly lighthouse. Originally John Smeaton was asked to build the lighthouse, no doubt as a result of his earlier success with Eddystone; and as with similar requests from other ports and harbours that Smeaton received, nothing happened.

Although known as the pier, it is in fact a breakwater, since its main function is not for tying up shipping, but to protect the entrance to the Tweed from the sea. It is 960 yards long, and took 11 years to build, work having started in 1810.

The lighthouse was built in 1826 and was designed by Joseph Nelson, who first worked with Daniel Alexander as a builder on South Stack and on many other Welsh lighthouses. It is a stone circular tapering tower 44 feet high with a window for a light. It is painted red at the base for the first 1/3rd of the tower with the rest painted white. It is capped with a red painted conical roof consiting of a single piece of stone.

The original light was oil; and showed two fixed lights; a fixed white visible 12 miles and a fixed red visible 8 miles. The reflector is on show in the Berwick Museum, but unfortunately the glass chimney has been broken.

In time oil gave way to gas and later the light was changed to electricity and run from large unwieldy batteries charged up in the garage in the town. The charge lasted a week and Friday was set aside to trundle the renewed batteries on a wheel barrow out from the town and along the pier to the lighthouse. The light is now connected to the main electricity supply.

The Wilson family were the keepers and lived in a house which still stands at the landward end of the pier. They passed the role of keeper down among several generations.

Today the lighthouse shows a fixed green light to landward at 28 feet above high water and a flash to seaward every 5 seconds at 48 feet above high water, visible for 10 miles. It has lost nothing of its original appeal when it was first built but sadly it seems to be no longer popular as a local post card as it did in its youth.


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