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Whiteford Point Lighthouse is the only surviving sea-swept cast iron lighthouse in Britain

David Goran

Whiteford Point Lighthouse is an unusual cast-iron lighthouse built in 1865 to a design by John Bowen of Llanelli and Burry Navigation Commissioners. It is located off the coast at Whiteford Point near Whiteford Sands, on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.

Whiteford Point Lighthouse. Image by - Thomas Guest.Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Whiteford Point Lighthouse. Photo credit 

 

It is located in the inter-tidal zone of the River Loughor Estuary. Image by - Gareth Lovering Photography's photostream..Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0

It is located in the inter-tidal zone of the River Loughor Estuary. Photo credit

It is the only wave-swept cast-iron tower of this size in Britain. It sits on 88 wooden piles driven into glacial moraine. The tower is 44 feet high, has a single room, and stands just above low-water level about 0.5 miles from the shore. It is made mostly of metal and still looks very solid considering the time it’s been abandoned to the sea.

It was constructed with eight cast-iron plates bolted together with external and internal flanges, with bolts weighing around 900g. The external flanges are an unusual feature, not seen on other cast iron lighthouses.

Provision was made for two lighthouse keepers. Image by - Gareth Lovering Photography's photostream. Flickr.CC BY-ND 2.0

Provision was made for two lighthouse keepers.  Photo credit 

 

It is only accesible at low tide. Image by - Gareth Lovering Photography's photostream, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

It is only accessible at low tide. Photo credit 

It is an important work of cast-iron architecture. The base is about 24 feet in diameter and rises to a diameter of 11 feet 6 inches at lantern level. A pitched stone apron surrounds the base of the lighthouse.

It is an important work of nineteenth-century lighthouse design and construction. Image by - Gareth Lovering Photography's photostream.Flickr.CC BY-ND 2.0

It is an important work of nineteenth-century lighthouse design and construction. Photo credit

 

An external ladder was used to enter the lighthouse trough the balcony. Image by - Gareth Lovering Photography's photostream.Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0

An external ladder was used to enter the lighthouse trough the balcony. Photo credit

In 1854, Burry Navigation Commissioners replaced an earlier piled structure, of which nothing remained, to mark the shoals of Whiteford Point. The light marked the shoals and guided shipping in the estuary and the harbors of Burry Port and Llanelli.

A wrought iron balcony is fixed to the seventh course. Image by - Thomas Guest.Flickr. CC BY 2.0

A wrought iron balcony is fixed to the seventh course. Photo credit

The lamphouse had three Argand lamps and reflectors were also fitted. In 1876, the Harbour Master set a fourth lamp to shine west along the north channel, but the light was removed and not replaced after a failure of the solar unit.

The lighthouse is now owned by Carmarthenshire County Council. Image by - David Dawson.Flickr. CC BY 2.0

The lighthouse is now owned by Carmarthenshire County Council. Photo credit

The tower remained in use until 1921, when its light was extinguished. However, to this day the lighthouse still has navigational value in daylight.