Burnham’s Unusual Lighthouse

by David Murray on 25 June 2011

in Coast, Somerset, South West

Burnham sands with lighthouse

Burnham lighthouse landward side

It’s Saturday once again, and there’s quite a lot to do, so today’s will be a short post drawing from the experience of a walk along the beach last weekend at Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset.

The day before we’d driven over to the Quantock Hills and briefly explored Dunster and Watchet. I decided on something nearer home, a slow walk with cameras as my only companions, along the Burnham beach.

Leaving the home where we were staying I reached the seafront, turned right, and passing the church with the leaning tower dropped down onto the sand rather than walking on the concrete footpath above.

The sea walls have to be high here. The maximum rise and fall of the tide at Burnham is said to be the second largest in the world. This afternoon, though, the Bristol channel was in recession and it was pleasant to walk along with the sand dunes to the right.

Away in the distance was a strange looking structure, maybe a couple of hundred yards out from the dunes. On drawing nearer it began to look like a large black and white box on stilts.

I carried on walking and made my way out over the sand to see the structure from the other side. And what a difference. From this direction it is white with a red strip and carrying two powerful lights, one mounted outside, the other inside the structure.

Burnham Lighthouse

This is Burnham’s lighthouse. The original light was in the parish church tower, then centuries ago a special building was constructed nearby in the town. This one, standing out alone on the sand, dates from the early 19th century and gave good service for well over a hundred years. Later what most people would think of as a conventional “pillar” type of lighthouse was erected, and eventually in the 1960s the box on stilts was decomissioned.

This, however, was not to be the end of its story. When the pillar lighthouse came to the end of its serviceable life and was sold off to serve as holiday accommodation this box on the sands came back into its own, and since around eight years ago it has once again been shining its light out over the Bristol Channel.

Be Sociable, Share!

Previous post:

Next post: