Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Short History of the Fleetwood Lighthouses: Part Two

Right, where were we? Ah yes, the Lower Lighthouse, the second and altogether shorter of Fleetwood’s two interior beacons.
In the last bit of this article I mentioned that me and Michelle were allowed inside (along with a number of other visitors I probably ought to add for anybody who hasn’t read the former part of this posting) a couple of years back, for a good old snoop around.
Bah Gum, it were cramped in there! There was so little room that we had to be shown around in groups of three…with the exception of the fat Italian bloke I also mentioned in the previous section, who’d muscled in before us…he was only allowed inside in groups of one and, even then, had to be forced through the hatch at the top of the step ladders into the loft with the end of a broom handle.
Claustrophobic it might have been, but we took lots of photographs, all of which, unfortunately, I’ve subsequently lost. (They’ll be in one the suitcases under the bed, no doubt.) So you’ll just have to put up with this Victorian photograph that I’ve dragged screaming and kicking from my hard drive instead. (Editor: Is it just me or do those two girls on the right hand side of the image look particularly evil?)

Let’s have some facts for those of a mathematical and factual inclination then, borrowed, once again, from our (even if I say so myself) excellent companion for the dedicated Fylde and Wyre antiquarian, ‘The History of the Fylde Coast in Old Picture Postcards’ (copies still available – just click on the link in the right hand column):
“Lower Light, designed by Decimus Burton, featuring in the foreground the sort of children that crop up in nightmares (Editor: Good…it wasn’t just me then) along with its taller companion, Pharos, was opened on December 1st 1840. On that occasion Peter Hesketh, Captain Denham and assorted guests sailed up the channel and, according to ‘Fleetwood – a Town Trail’ by Martin Ramsbottam and Hilary Knight: “…a rocket was fired as the signal for the beams to shine out over the water.”
And a few more facts and figures that we’ve nicked borrowed from some website or other, the address of which I’ve failed to write down anywhere:
“The light from the Lower Lighthouse is thirty feet above the watermark and can be seen for nine miles.”
All of which brings us, in a roundabout manner, to Fleetwood’s third and final lighthouse, Wyre Light, which can be seen in the photograph below, looking a bit like Robbie the Robot from the Forbidden Planet with no clothes on:

Wyre Light, as you’ve probably gathered, is a bit different than the other two. For a start, it’s not actually situated in the town. It stands on the northern end of North Wharf, a large sandbank stretching from Fleetwood all the way to Lune Deeps, where the Wyre officially empties into the bay.
That is, most of it stands there. It’s not looking too clever nowadays, but we’ll get onto that subject in a minute or so.
Wyre Light was, once again, built in 1840 although, this time, it wasn’t designed by Decimus Burton. It was actually the brainchild of Alexander Mitchell, a blind engineer, which probably explains its lack of aestheticism.
Again, however, it’s a bit of an oddity, being the first ‘Screw Pile’ lighthouse in Britain. (Who’d have thunk it, eh? All these Guinness Book of Record type buildings in Fleetwood.) The construction itself rests on seven screw piles (don’t ask…it’s obvious if you think about it) sunk into the seabed.
Back to the ‘History of the Fylde Coast in Old Picture Postcards’ (go on…treat yourself to a copy – you know you want to) for some more information:
“Wyre Light suffered several collisions in its lifetime, the worst of which took place in 1870 and involved a schooner that carried half of the structure back with it to the dock. On the 16th May 1948 the lighthouse burnt down entirely. We’ve been informed that a certain sea cadet leader (who perhaps ought to remain nameless) had a hand in this, when a ‘Flare Training Exercise’ with his wards went disastrously wrong, but we couldn’t confirm that. The damage was so great that Wyre Light was never rebuilt.”
Just to add to that, Michelle has informed me that Wyre Light will never be rebuilt at all now. Apparently, the sandbanks have shifted since its encounter with the sea cadets and there’s not enough stability left in the seabed to bother.
Which just about wraps it up for this article.
However, we’ve got room for one last photograph and a couple more facts (there’s no point in skidding to a halt if there’s life left in the subject yet, I reckon) so here’s a view of Pharos Lighthouse, taken from the portico (with genuine Roman columns) of the North Euston hotel:

And here are those facts and figures we promised you, courtesy of somebody or other that we can’t remember the name of:
“The Upper Lighthouse is ninety feet above the high water mark and visible for thirteen miles. Sometimes rare birds nest at the top of the lighthouse, which are monitored by the RSPB. Whilst you won’t be able to look at these birds up close as they must not be disturbed, you could try using binoculars from standing a bit further down the street to see if you could see them.”
Right, there we have it, so don’t go round saying that you don’t get value for money from this website.

21 comments:

Ann oDyne said...

Value for money indeed.
If there is a Fleetwood Tourism Grant, then you should receive it.

Those bad girls have, of course, just climbed down after throwing the rare bird's eggs out of the nest at the top of the light ( or maybe they just threw their baby brother) in the Irish Sea).

Brian Hughes said...

Annie,

Tourism grant for Fleetwood? Even the tram lines loop back on themselves and head straight out of town...

RVB said...

The Upper lighthouse has a nice steampunk/Mad Scientists' lair atmosphere about it. I approve. They should dress it up and it could be the new TARDIS.

John said...

Brian,
I agree with Ann. You should hang out by those Roman columns in a long trench coat and ask the ladies if they want you to show them around. Keep some brochures and books inside your coat, and show em what you got when the weather's nice. :0)

Seriously, if WA ever needs a fundraiser, you should definitely give a special walking tour, tickets paid in advance, brochures at a discount and a stop for lunch at Harry Ramsdems.

As for the lighthouses, let's see... flare excercises... old wooden lighthouse... not a good mix. I suppose they thought the beach was a safe place to shoot of flares because of all that sand and water, but didn't account for the wind.

Nice articles! JOHN ":0)

Brian Hughes said...

Reuben,

You mean 'Wyre Light'...the one on stilts? Upper light would be the tall one built from stone that resembles a...er...a big candle? (That's the most family oriented similie I could think of at short notice.)

John,

I suspect the flares were actually shot from a dinghy...although I don't honestly know. As for hanging around the entrance to the North Euston waiting for young ladies, last time I tried that I was arrested.

Word Verification: JAMSOCK. I think the programmers at Blogger at having some sort of mental breakdown.

Jayne said...

The Lower Light is tres pretty, can we procure 3 of them in powder blue, lemon and mint green, please?
They'll look oh-so delightful as folly's in the garden.
Yes, historic walks and talks would garner the WA some hard earned, they're always popular here in Oz.
WV = toecitu.
Blogger's got some toe action happenin!

Brian Hughes said...

"...they're always popular here in Oz."

That's because Oz takes its history seriously, Jayne. Over here trying to get the average Joe/Josephine Bloggs interested in anything even remotely intelligent is like trying to get a spoilt brat to eat its greens. Unless it involves the cast of Coronation Street, Amy Winehouse and a bucket of blancmange, we haven't got a hope.

John said...

Brian,

the next time Ms. Winehouse passes out in public, perhaps Fleetwood can pay to ship her oop north, and house her in the lighthouse 'til she wakes up?

They can charge admission to come and stare, and keep Amy off the streets as a public service, so... a win-win situation.

Aren't you glad we're all here to help you out with these bold ideas?

JOHN ":0)

Brian Hughes said...

John,

There are enough drunken, drug-addled slappers round Fleetwood without adding any more to the mix...although at least Amy Winehouse has got some talent, which is more than can be said for most of our local junkies.

Jayne said...

I like John's suggestion - you could always incorporate it into the Rapunzle panto, too, selling double the amount of tickets with audience members volunteering to be the Prince Charming, thereby saving on actors pay ;)

You could always promote your walks as "The Original East Enders/Coronation St where slappers went to the lions (not the dogs) where Babs Windsor's forebears could count to 4 and where Bond the classical pop group were out-fiddled by Nero's chorus line"

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

"...you could always incorporate it into the Rapunzle panto, too..."

If somebody tugged on that beehive surely they'd cut themselves...or even worse, pull it off to reveal a shrivelled little bald head underneath.

"You could always promote your walks as..."

You see now there's the fundamental flaw with this idea. 'Walks'. This implies exercise on my part. If I could arrange an historical tour of Fleetwood in which I was personally conveyed around the town by a meat and potato pie wagon, then that'd have a lot more potential.

John said...

Brian,
personally, I pictured you on your 'walk' zooming around at 2 mph on one of those little motorized shopping carts they have at the grocers, but you make an excellent point: your transportation should have an historical bent to it, to go with the tour.

maybe you can ride on the back of one of those 'bring out yer dead' carts, as in Monty Python? Or better yet one of those turf delver's carts you mentioned in that fascinating to-be-continued soon post from a few weeks back?

You can even charge people for a chance at turf delving, and have something to toss in the old fireplace as well.

Jayne and I will work out the details for you. Meanwhile, you go write up the flyers and think of what to say on the tour.

We'll have hte first annual Wyre Archeology's magical History Tour happening before you know it! Are you free Saturday morning at 7:30?

Cannot wait to see the photos for this one! JOHN ":0)

RVB said...

You might have Winehouse, but we've got Corey Delaney, Brian. A 17 year old party slut who made every police department in Eastern Melbourne go on red alert after a single party that left several police cars damaged. Impressive...

Brian Hughes said...

John,

"...your transportation should have an historical bent to it, to go with the tour."

No, it should have hot pies in it to go with my appetite.

"We'll have the first annual Wyre Archeology's magical History Tour happening before you know it!"

Tragical History Tour more like...

"Are you free Saturday morning at 7:30?"

You can't fool me John...there's no such time.

Reuben,

I can assure you that I have never had, and have no intention of ever having, Amy Winehouse. (Fnargh fnargh.)

Jayne said...

And yet Amy Winehouse can't stop singing your praises, Brian :P

Actually, John, Michelle could conduct the tour with Brian acting as the plague-ridden dead body in the cart...until 11 am crows, then he can take over while Michelle ties Amy to the top of the lighthouse for "Rapunzling".
With the appropriate audience members playing the cart-pulling surfs, of course.

WV =flogi. Proves it's written in the stars :P

Brian Hughes said...

Sorry Jayne, no can do. I'm already booked to play Widow Twanky at Blackpool Opera House.

Anonymous said...

I rang, you were out, shopping or comatose I suppose. Wednesday! ...if I haven't slit my wrists or been sectioned by then.

Brian Hughes said...

Carol,

I was probably in the land of nod. It's been a hectic couple of weeks, getting remortgaged and stuff. You know how it goes. Actually, I heard the phone ringing this morning, but by the time I'd hoofed the cat off my head and struggled downstairs it had stopped. I really will have to buy a new phone for upstairs again.
Wednesday it is then. Try to keep your head out of the oven until then.

Anonymous said...

interesting idea about the oven, problem is, it hasn't worked for over two years, Oh and its electric. Amazing how you can cobble an article together, you can do one about my crumbling victorian garden terrace if you want.

Brian Hughes said...

Carol,

I kind of like the idea of somebody attempting to commit suicide in an electric oven and ending up with a suntan instead.

sexy said...
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