St Mary's Island and Lighthouse


St Mary's Island & LighthouseSt Mary’s Island is a tidal island located off Curry's Point to the north of Whitley Bay, accessed by a causeway at low tide. During medieval times it was known as 'Bait' Island and was occupied by a small chapel dedicated to St. Helen, which burned a lamp to warn mariners of the rocks. Following a number of ship wrecks off the island in the 19th century St Mary's Lighthouse was commissioned by Trinity House and built between 1896 and 1898. It's kerosene lamp was first lit on 31st August 1898. In 1914, during the First World War, a rangefinder pillar was built on the edge of the Island. A pillbox was built on the island during the Second World War. St. Mary’s Island was designated as a conservation area in 1974.[1] The lighthouse was converted to electricity in 1977. It was decommissioned in 1984, and now operates as a museum and visitor centre. The lighthouse is an iconic landmark and became a Grade II listed building in 2012.[2]

St. Mary's Lighthouse is on the tiny St Mary's (or Bait) Island, just north of Whitley Bay on the coast of North East England. The small rocky tidal island is linked to the mainland by a short concrete causeway which is submerged at high tide.

History

The lighthouse and adjacent keepers' cottages were built in 1898 by the John Miller company of Tynemouth, using 645 blocks of stone and 750,000 bricks. It was built on the site of an 11th-century monastic chapel, whose monks maintained a lantern on the tower to warn passing ships of the danger of the rocks. The lamp was powered by paraffin, and was not electrified until 1977, St Mary's was by then the last Trinity House lighthouse lit by oil.

Decommissioning

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984 (just two years after its conversion to automatic operation). At the time, its fine first-order fresnel lens was removed by Trinity House and put on display in their museum in Penzance. A few years later, St Mary's was opened as a visitor attraction by the local council. In place of the original, Trinity House offered a smaller optic from their decommissioned lighthouse at Withernsea, and this can still be seen at the top of the tower. Following closure of the Penzance lighthouse museum, the original lens was returned to St Mary's in 2011 to be put on display.

The lighthouse today

Since 2012 St Mary's lighthouse has been grade II listed.

While it no longer functions as a working lighthouse, it is easily accessible (when the tide is out) and regularly open to visitors; in addition to the lighthouse itself there is a small museum, a visitor's centre, and a cafe.

Another Victorian lighthouse may be found a few miles to the south of the River Tyne. Souter Lighthouse is also now decommissioned, and open to visitors. Souter Lighthouse can be seen with the naked eye from the top of St Mary's Lighthouse.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 28/04/2016).
Visit the page: St. Mary's Lighthouse for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
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St Mary's Island 1972

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055811:St Mary's Lighthouse from Whitley Bay

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578661:St Mary's Lighthouse Whitley Bay 1991

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The early history of St. Mary's Island

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Residents of St. Mary's Island

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Tale of St.Mary's Lighthouse

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Interview with David Appleby - The last lighthouse keeper of St. Mary's Lighthouse

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War-Time on St Mary's Island
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St Mary's Island, Whittley Bay

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3b St Mary's Island 1926

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St mary's light house
- St Mary's light house is special to my mam because when she was little she used to go there with her dad and her brother and they used to ...

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St Mary's Island Lighthouse, Keepers' Cottages and Compound Walls
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St Mary's Lighthouse (4)

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St Mary's Lighthouse

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Lighthouse - St Mary's Island

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St Mary's Island 003

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St Mary's Island 002

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St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

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St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

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St Mary's Lighthouse

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St Mary's lighthouse, Whitley Bay

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Common seal

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Seal at Whitley Bay

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Up The Steps

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St Mary's Lighthouse

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St Mary's Island, Whitley Bay

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St Mary's Island

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St Mary's Island

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Rock Pool

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Inner reflections...

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Limpets

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Oyster Catcher

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St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

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Whitley Bay: view south from St. Mary’s lighthouse
- "A view from the top of the lighthouse, with the causeway to the right." Photo by Chris Downer, 2011, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Old Keeper's Cottages - St Mary's Island
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St Mary's Lighthouse
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St. Mary's Lighthouse
- "Looking across St. Mary's Island." Photo by DS Pugh, 2013, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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The garden on St Mary's Island
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The cottages on St Mary's Island
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The lighthouse on St Mary's Island from the north
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Rocky shoreline on St Mary's Island
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St Mary's Lighthouse from the foreshore
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Whitley Bay: St. Mary’s Island
- "The island is accessible on foot only at low tide, by way of this concrete causeway. The lighthouse, built in 1898 as a replacement for one at Tynemouth, shares the ...

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Whitley Bay: looking down St. Mary’s lighthouse
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Whitley Bay: the light in St. Mary’s lighthouse
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Going fishing
- "Off St Mary's Island." Photo by Joan Sykes, 2010, and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Aerial photo of St Mary's Island at high tide
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Bird Watching Hide
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Rear of Visitor Centre with Bird Watching Hide
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Outhouse with boat - St Mary's Island
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Pill box - St Mary's Island
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Cottages and Visitor Centre - St Mary's Island
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Cottages and Pillbox - St Mary's Island
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Tricolour

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St Mary’s Lighthouse

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St Mary's Island - sketch by R Woods, 1889
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Comments

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  • Pat Thomson on April 28, 2016, 7:37 p.m.

    Thanks Simon - I never knew about the "range finder"

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