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New Brighton Lighthouse.

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Off the northern tip of the Wirral Peninsula, Cheshire, is a sandstone reef that has always been a hazard to shipping using the entrance to River Mersey. Prior to the building of the lighthouse, the location of the reef was marked by a wooden post or "perch" (hence the name given to the lighthouse) which had a beacon in the shape of a wood burning fire. The Liverpool Corporation erected it on the Black Rock in 1683. When foreign ships, passed the old perch, they were charged sixpence for its respect and upkeep but it was often washed away and a boat had to be launched to recover it from Bootle Bay. In February 1821, the pilot boat "Liver" collided with the perch and carried it away. It was washed away in March 1824 and not recovered until the December but the cost of replacing it all the time grew too expensive and it was decided to build a new one.

The Lighthouse sits next to the fort, and was designed by John Foster. It was based on John Smeaton's Eddystone Lighthouse of 1756 and Thomas Littledale, Mayor of Liverpool, laid the foundation stone on 8th June 1827. Whilst construction was in progress, temporary floating lights were used to warn shipping of the reef. The lighthouse is made from solid granite quarried from Anglesey by Tomkinson & Company. The first 45 feet of the tower is solid and thereafter hollow with spiral staircase which leads to three floors consisting of the keeper's quarters; storage rooms and a lantern house. The total height is 90 feet above the rocks and it is considered to be a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The granite cost 1/6d a cubic foot and is dovetailed and doweled with iron bars. The whole stonework, when finished, was coated with Pozzolana, a volcanic substance from Mount Etna, which, with age, becomes rock hard. It cost £ 27,500 to construct.

Work was only possible at low tide and it was completed on 1st March 1830, The revolving light was said to be the first in the country and consisted of two white flashes, followed by one red, with a range of 14 miles. The light was powered by Sperm Whale oil throughout its life although, in 1838, experiments with Acetylene gas were unsuccessful. It was eventually electrically connected to the mainland.

Two keepers took up residence, but by June that year the need for another keeper was fulfilled. By 1925 the keepers were made redundant when the operation of the light was made fully automatic. The light shone for the last time on 1st October 1973 and the lighthouse was sold to Norman Kingham, a local businessman and owner of the adjacent fort.

Originally named the Rock Light, the lighthouse has been called Black Rock Light, Rock Perch Light, and it wasn't until 1870 that the name Perch Rock Light became commonly used but nowadays referred to as New Brighton Lighthouse.


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