STANDING TALL IN THE FACE OF THE STORM
The isolated offshore lighthouses dotted around our shores are beacons to engineering ingenuity
“Beyond the apparent finality of Britain and Ireland’s coastlines are a series of outposts raised off perilous footholds of marine rock,” says author Tom Nancollas. Occasionally glimpsed from a distant ferry, lighthouses have names we might recognise – Wolf Rock or Fastnet – but often that’s where our knowledge ends.
In this intriguing book, building conservationist Tom Nancollas visits seven of the 20 surviving offshore lighthouses. His goal is to understand the audacity and ingenuity of their creators; those bold pioneers who risked everything – lives, labour and materials – to build on dangerous reefs. Take, for example, the construction of the third Eddystone lighthouse. After the first was swept away in a storm and the second burned down, this task was assigned to Yorkshireman John Smeaton. Smeaton observed that, thanks to their wide bases, old oak trees can withstand the worst storms, so designed his lighthouse on the same principle: as an elegant, tapering tower. Built with granite, it required a task force of tin miners to shift each five-tonne block 50 miles from the quarry to a slippery reef.
Eloquent and well researched, Seashaken Houses combines the author’s observations with architectural know-how and historical anecdotes. Lighthouses will never look the same again. Ali Wood, travel writer
It took three attempts to build a lighthouse that would successfully withstand the sea at Eddystone Rocks