Beacon

Whitford lighthouse, very low tide (click for enlarged version)

[In the wake of yesterday’s post (which began as a study of someone else’s neurosis but ended as a study of my own), I’m really feeling the need today to just write about something completely free (for me) of any, y’know, import. Here’s what floated to the surface, as it were.]

A while back, I participated in one of those “blog parties” which seem to come along periodically. The topic (selected by the party’s organizer, Rebecca Ramsey) was Wonders of the World, in which participants celebrated, well, wonderful things or occasions which held some special appeal for them.

My topic was waterfalls. As I explained in an aside there, for some unknown reason I’ve been fascinated by the country of Wales, which I’ve never visited. (Nor, as far as I know, has anyone I know ever visited there.) (Okay, you can all announce yourselves now.) Although I’m not actively looking for information on the Welsh language, Welsh countryside, Welsh history or folklore, whatever, my mind still goes into heightened-interest mode when I come across any of that stuff.

The lighthouse shown here has not been operational for some time. It’s referred to as the Whitford (or alternatively Whiteford) lighthouse. Built in 1866 to replace the original (which was in turn erected in 1854), it was deactivated in 1926. It’s 130 feet high, made of cast iron, and at low tide — as shown here — requires a five-mile walk to reach. The Whitford lighthouse watches over the Burry Inlet, on the southern coast of Wales.

During World War II, the site was used for bomb practice; an article on the BBC Web site says, “a detailed survey will be required to discover if there are any unexploded bombs at the base of the lighthouse.” I’m honestly not sure which half of that sentence better deserves an exclamation point.

In 2000, the Millennium Coastal Park (a project of Llanelli Borough Council) put the Whitford lighthouse up for sale. The price? Get this: £1. You read that right: one — a single — pound. Not surprisingly, there was a catch: the lighthouse must stay where it is (not a problem, one would think — at least for pretty much any buyer with a pound-note in his or pocket); and (the killer) the buyer must assume the cost of restoring the lighthouse — estimated (again, in 2000) to be about £100,000.

Maybe it’s not as cool as it looks (again, from the BBC):

It features only one room and no running water and would not be suited for living in, explained Gerald Phillips from Millennium Coastal Park.

“It cannot be a lighthouse again,” said Mr Phillips.

“Its function would be purely as a structure. I have had telephone calls from people wanting to live there, but that really is not on.”

And despite that article’s suggestion that a coalition of “an international engineering consultancy, paint supplier, cast-iron foundry and Channel Four’s Big Breakfast Show” might purchase the lighthouse, I’ve found no sign that that actually happened. (Would love to hear differently from someone who knows!)

Another low-tide picture, below, shows the lighthouse at sunset.

Whitford lighthouse at sunset (click for David Griffin's Flickr original)

But my absolute favorites of the Whitford lighthouse pictures I’ve found are the ones shot in black-and-white, when the tide is up and kicking around the base. Pictures like this one, by Alethea Hollis of ah photography (photo used with permission; © by Alethea Hollis):

Whitford lighthouse - Alethea Hollis, of ah photography (click for original gallery)

Or this one (click for the original at the Monochrome Wales site):

Whitford lighthouse in black and white (click for original)

If anyone would like to take up a collection to purchase prints of these B&W shots for me, well, you’re all adults and I certainly can’t stop you, can I? (If you have to choose just one, make it the first, okay?)

Update (a little later, same day): Just found an interesting PDF file, which seems to have been produced by a local historical society or something similar. It’s got more background on the lighthouse’s history, and more photos (including a couple from around 1910, when it was still operational). I made a couple amendments to some of the details above. And I’ve saved a copy of the document itself, here (439KB PDF).

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Comments

  1. Can’t afford the photos, never mind the lighhouse- but what a lovely dream, and how fortunate we are to have a glimpse of it, even if only on your blog!

  2. That building is amazing. I’d buy it in a heart beat if I had that kind of money–but I can’t afford a lighted booth much less and entire light house.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this. So, maybe not a print, but what about a postcard?

  3. @Sarah – I spent waaaay too much time yesterday, Officially Speaking, looking at pictures not just of the lighthouse but of other Welsh settings. But damn, it sure relaxed me!

  4. @marta – A postcard? Hmm. Are you suggesting a trade? Is there a postcard I could send YOU?

    Just thinking about sitting up in the top of that thing during a Gothic-romance-scale crashing lightning storm sends a premonitory shiver up my spine. Makes me want to write something operatic. :)

  5. I’d send you that postcard if I knew where to get that postcard, and I’d buy myself one for good measure. Right now life has gotten a bit crazy and I can’t even think of wanting anything–except more time and I don’t think that comes in postcard form.

  6. @marta – “Crazy”? YOUR life? You’re kidding — I never would have guessed you had anything boiling on any one of the four burners, let alone all of ’em. :)

  7. Lovely.

    Who hasn’t secretly wanted to live in a lighthouse?

    Or maybe my Pete’s Dragon obsession is just showing again.

  8. Tara: Isn’t that a cool-looking place? I keep wanting to do another Google search for updates, but am afraid to learn it had simply been demolished!

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