The Farne Islands, which lie off the northeast coast of England, have had navigational lights dating back to the 1770s. Longstone Light was established at the outermost island in 1826 and became famous as the home of Grace Darling, who, along with her father, rescued nine people from a shipwreck. A light was established on Inner Farne — the largest of the islands at 16 acres — in 1778, and the present 43-foot brick tower was built in 1811. Inner Farne was also the home to Saint Cuthbert, and a church dedicated to him in 1370 is still open to visitors today.
The Inner Farne Lighthouse, along with the keeper’s cottage and a building that was once used to generate acetylene gas, have now become the property of the National Trust. The Trust has been buying environmentally sensitive areas of the northeast coast, and already owned the rest of the island. A tower, built in 1540 to house monks on the island, now serves as a seasonal housing for the Trust wardens. One of the three rooms in the lighthouse will now be utilized as office space for the wardens.
Jon Price, Legal and Risk Manager at Trinity House, which sold the property to the Trust, added, “The sale of Inner Farne Lighthouse secures the long-term future of the property after any time in which it ceases to be required as an aid to navigation. The lighthouse will continue to be operated by Trinity House and [the sale] will not affect the aid to navigation”. The lighthouse property was sold for £132,000.
The rocky Farne Islands are managed by the National Trust as a nature reserve, and are considered among Europe’s most important bird-nesting sites, with resident puffins, eider ducks and four species of terns among others. There is also a large seal colony. Inner Farne is accessible to the public via daily boat trips from April to September, leaving from Seahouses Harbour. Check www.nationaltrust.org.uk or www.farne-islands.com for more information.
This story appeared in the
Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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