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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 Bate's 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 Island is a small sandstone island near the seaside resort of Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, England. It is a Local Nature Reserve.

St. Mary's Island was originally called Bates Island, Hartley Bates or Bates Hill as it was originally owned by the Bates family who were prominent locally. It is sometimes known as Bait Island, probably due to a misunderstanding of the meaning of the name. The island is opposite Curry's Point on the mainland and is connected to the coast at low tide by a rocky causeway for about 16 hours a day. The main feature of the island is St. Mary's Lighthouse which was built in 1898.

In medieval times there was a chapel on the island dedicated to St Helen. Within the chapel was the Lady Light, also known as St. Katherine's Light. The light was later, wrongly, ascribed to St. Mary and, as a result, the island became known as St. Mary's Island. It is debatable whether the light was used as a warning to shipping or was purely religious. Next to the chapel was a burial ground where monks and local people were interred. Traces of St. Helen's Chapel were destroyed when the lighthouse was built in 1898.

During the 19th century there was an inn, known as the 'Square and Compass', on the island, run by a Mr. George Ewen. In 1895, after complaints about rowdy customers trespassing on nearby land, the landlord, Lord Hastings, had Mr. Ewen and his family evicted from the island.

The lighthouse continued to function until 1984, when it was taken out of service. The lighthouse is now open to visitors who can climb the steps to the lantern room, if they wish, or see the Visitors' Centre.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 12/04/2020).
Visit the page: St Mary's Island (Tyne and Wear) for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.

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. A first-order 'bi-valve' rotating optic was installed by Barbier & Bénard of Paris, very similar to the one they had provided the previous year for Lundy North Lighthouse; it displayed a group-flashing characteristic, flashing twice every 20 seconds. 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.

As part of the electrification process the fine first-order fresnel lens was removed by Trinity House (it was later put on display in their National Lighthouse Museum in Penzance). Its place in the tower was taken by a four-tier revolving sealed beam lamp array, manufactured by Pharos Marine; it was powered by two 12-volt batteries, charged from the mains electricity supply.

Decommissioning

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1984 (just two years after its conversion to automatic operation). The revolving sealed beam array was reused two years later (in reduced form) on the Inner Dowsing light platform in the North Sea, as part of its conversion to become 'the first major lighthouse to be run using solar power'.

A few years later, St Mary's was opened as a visitor attraction by the local council. In place of the original optic, Trinity House offered a smaller one 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 café. The cottage was upgraded with a wood pellet boiler in 2014.

In 2017 a renovation plan for the site (including roof-top viewing platforms and various glass-covered extensions) was rejected by the local planning authority due to environmental concerns. A new refurbishment proposal (to include rebuilding the original optic) was presented in 2018; however the Heritage Lottery Fund later turned down North Tyneside Council's £2.1m funding application.

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: 12/04/2020).
Visit the page: St Mary's Lighthouse for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.
Whitley Bay Curry's Point Pillbox, St Mary's Island Lighthouses Rangefinder Pillar, St Mary's Island St Mary's Island Conservation Area Whitley Bay Film Festival Grade II Listed 1898 Conservation Areas Heritage Sites Fisherman's Cottage, St Mary's Island Pillbox, St Mary's Island Rangefinder Pillar, St Mary's Island St Mary's Island Before the Lighthouse St Mary's Island Conservation Area
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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
- Memories of Alys Crisp as part of the BBC WW2 Peoples' Archive.

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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
- "A late C19 Trinity House lighthouse designed by Sir Thomas Matthews, engineer-in-chief to the Trinity House Board; with keepers' cottages, compound and flanking walls situated on St Mary’s Island ...

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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
- Drawing from a book published in 1894, no known copyright restrictions. The original image was scanned by the British Library and rotated/resized. Image taken from: Title: "Illustrated Handbook to ...

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053072:No Title available

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St Mary's Lighthouse 2 - The Wedding Drone

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Dramatic timelaspe of St Mary's lighthouse and Bait island - Whitley Bay

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Drone Sunrise St Marys Lighthouse

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St Mary's Lighthouse Drone Discovery - Whitley bay | #EpicDroneClips No10.

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When The Sun Shines You Fly

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st mary's lighthouse

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Rainbow over St Marys Lighthouse

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St Marys Lighthouse

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St Mary's Lighthouse - stairs

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Causeway, St Mary's Island

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St Mary's Island

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St Mary's Lighthouse

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Whitley Bay - Ghost Lighthouse

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Micro Cannon

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Footpath

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Mini Lifeboats

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Reflecting on the tide

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St Mary's Island in winter sunshine

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St Mary's Lighthouse 1-11

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St Mary's Lighthouse 1-1

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The Friends of St. Mary's Island
- Internet Archive Wayback Machine - archive of the Website of the former Friends of St. Mary's Island.

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St. Mary’s Lighthouse

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Comments

Add a comment or share a memory.

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

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

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Tyne & Wear HER: 1037
List number: 1408299
List grade: 2
Post code: NE26 4RS
Borough: North Tyneside
Grid ref: NZ3526275392
Wikipedia: St Mary's Island ...
Wikipedia: St Mary's Lighthouse

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