Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Lower Lighthouse

click photo to enlarge
The Lower Lighthouse at Fleetwood, Lancashire, was designed by the architect, Decimus Burton. Together with its much taller neighbour, the Pharos (see post of January 11th 2006), it began flashing out its warning in 1841. Burton based the Pharos on what was known of the ancient design at Alexandria. However, the design of the Lower Lighthouse was his own invention. He gave the stone building an elegant cap, a balcony at the level of the light, and covered seating all round the base. Many a Fleetwood resident, tourist or fisherman must have sat below the Light and gazed out at the boats as they came back into port.

Some think it odd that the town has two lighthouses, one back among the streets, tall and slender, the other on the promenade, shorter and ornate, but there is a very good reason for this. To get into the River Wyre and Fleetwood docks boats must follow the course of the channel carved by the river as it enters the sea. So, skippers must round the Wyre Light off the coast, then adjust their position so that the two lighthouses are seen one above the other. When that's done they are in the channel, and can safely steer home, guided by the lighthouses, until the final sinuous turn into the river itself.

My photograph shows the Lower Lighthouse at sunset. To the right is the nearby radar training station of the Nautical College, and in the distance, between the promenade railings, Fleetwood Pier can be seen. On the evening I took this photograph everything was right - a variety of textures and colours in the clouds, some blue remaining in the sky, and that magical golden glow as the sun approached the sea. It's hard to take a bad photograph when conditions favour you in this way, so all that was needed was the silhouette of Burton's dignified lighthouse to complete the picture.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen