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Bull Point Lighthouse
Bull Point lighthouse - - 873144.jpg
Bull Point Lighthouse
Bull Point Lighthouse is located in Devon
Bull Point Lighthouse
Bull Point Lighthouse
Location in Devon
Location Mortehoe
Coordinates 51°11′56.8″N 4°12′04.4″W / 51.199111°N 4.201222°W / 51.199111; -4.201222
Year first constructed 1879 (first)
1972 (second)
Year first lit 1974 (current)
Automated 1975
Construction brick tower (current)
metal skeletal tower (second)
Tower shape cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern attached to 1-storey keeper's house
Markings / pattern unpainted tower, white lantern
Height 11 m (36 ft)
Focal height 54 m (177 ft)
Current lens small 6 panel 3rd order catadioptric optic
Intensity 89,900 candela
Range 24 nmi (44 km)
Characteristic Fl (3) W 10s.
Admiralty number A5600
NGA number 6228
ARLHS number ENG 017

Bull Point Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Bull Point, about one mile (1.6 km) north of the village of Mortehoe, on the northern coast of Devon, England. The lighthouse provides a visual aid to the villages of Mortehoe, Woolacombe and Ilfracombe, and warns of the inhospitable and rocky coast that lines the area.

The old lighthouse

The original lighthouse was constructed in 1879 after a group of local "clergy, ship-owners, merchants and landowners" appealed to Trinity House for one. It was built on Bull Point, though the Maritime Corporations of the Bristol Channel seaboard had lobbied strongly for it to be placed offshore on the Morte Stone (a local hazard to shipping).

Bull Point Lighthouse was a two-storey round tower, 30 ft (9.1 m) high and 13 ft (4.0 m) wide, built of local stone and Blue Lias lime, and faced with Portland cement; it was topped by a large cylindrical lantern to give a total height of 55 feet (17 m). Inside, the light-source (a Douglass six-wick oil-powered lamp) was set within a revolving first-order optic, manufactured (along with the lantern) by Chance Brothers of Smethwick. The optic, consisting of three asymmetric lens panels backed by a dioptric mirror, was an early example of the application of group-flashing lens technology (introduced by Dr John Hopkinson of Chance Brothers in 1874). It displayed three white flashes every half minute at an elevation of 154 ft (47 m) above mean high water springs. A fixed red sector light was also displayed, from a window in the tower, to mark the Morte Stone; this used light diverted by lenses from the landward side of the main light source.

A fog siren was also provided, powered by two 12 h.p. caloric engines (provided by Brown & co. of New York); it gave three blasts every two minutes. The fog signal equipment was housed in a separate engine room, built (together with a coke store and a small workshop) on the seaward side of the tower. On the landward side of the tower, a set of dwellings were constructed 'for two married keepers and one married assistant'. The dwellings, tower and engine room were linked by passageways; they were set, along with gardens and outbuildings, in a 12,000 sq ft compound.

In 1919 a new fog siren was installed, sounded through a pair of 'Rayleigh trumpets', together with a new set of Hornsby oil engines in the engine room.

The light was electrified in 1960; at the same time a new optic, generator and diaphone fog signal equipment were installed, with the Rayleigh trumpets being replaced by a set of rectangular exponential horns.

The new lighthouse

In September 1972 the headland on which the lighthouse stood subsided making the structure dangerous. Trinity House used an old light tower from Braunton Sands for two years whilst a new structure was rebuilt further inland. This was completed in 1974 at a cost of £71,000 and is currently in use; much equipment was reused from the old lighthouse, including the 1960 optic and fog signal. The sector light was also retained. It was fully automated from completion, stands 11 metres tall, has a light intensity of 800,000 candelas and can be seen for 24 nmi (44 km). The triple F-type diaphone foghorn was switched off in 1988, but inside the redundant equipment remains intact. The lighthouse was automated in 1995.

The site can be visited by an adjacent public footpath. The old lighthouse keepers' cottages are now being let out to tourists as self-catering holiday establishments.


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