04 October 2010


Lowestoft lighthouse
My Uncle Ben was a dab hand at all things marine.  A Harwich man, he'd been a merchant seaman and could turn his hand to anything that involved rope or wood and probably canvas.  Even though he had five children of his own, he always included us in the little gifts he made - wooden swings that swung from two hooks on the doorframe of my bedroom, ships in bottles and, most impressive, a clever little wooden lighthouse money-box with a light that came on when you put your pennies in.  It was an absolutely brilliant way of rewarding prudent young savers.

Stairwell, Southwold Lighthouse
I still find myself delighted by lighthouses, from an observer's perspective at least. When my son was small, we climbed outside onto the platform at the top of Dungeness lighthouse.  While he skipped around outside, I clung to the walls for comfort, totally overwhelmed by the exposure.  Scary.

Trinity Buoy Wharf, Tower Hamlets
I popped over to the Trinity House website to see just how many of their lighthouses I had seen first hand and I was amazed at the variety of stripes and shapes and lighting sequences.  I think if I'd have married a lighthouse keeper, I might have made a lovely lighthouse quilt to remember life by the high seas.  In fact, maybe I will one day.  Make the quilt, that is.


Val said...

Fascinating glimpse of lighthouses.. thanks
Your Uncle Ben sounds like a very nice chap :0)

Anonymous said...

If you get the chance, go aboard the lightships at Trinity Buoy Wharf. One of them, which I haven't visited, is now kitted out as a recording studio. The other is a photographic studio providing a very swanky location for fashion shoots and the like. The owner is clearly in love with his craft and its history and while one deck is kitted out with an English Rose kitchen and fancy furnishings the lower deck quarters have been kept as they were when the ship was out in the north sea. We went to see it on Open House weekend (arriving by small motor boat from the O2) and the very hospitable host even let us climb up right into the lamp. There are some photos of the ship here:


Well worth keeping an eye out for future openings.


Rattling On said...

I have a great memory of going up a lighthouse as a child. On my own as the rest of the family were too scared!!

Lara said...

It must have been quite windy and very exposed on Dungeness. I would have been clinging to the sides with you. I remember seeing a lot of engineers at the top of Bishops Rock lighthouse last summer and it gave me vertigo just watching them at the top!
The money box sounds fantastic - really clever.
I loved the Lighthouse Keeper's lunch book when I was little and also became quite obsessed by the idea of living in a lighthouse. It was one of my favourite parts of summer holidays in the scillies to take the boat out where they threw up the post and paper for the keeper. I was so sad when they became fully mechanical.
I like that they all have different light sequences as well and think a lighthouse quilt would be fantastic.
I think there is one in Norfolk that you can rent out which I think would be amazing. Also have you read Peter Hill's book Stargazing - its about living in a lighthouse and I really enjoyed it.

Liz said...

I don't think I've ever visited a lighthouse though we do have some in the north east. Must add it to the to do list. I've always loved ships in bottles, though.

colleen said...

What a comfort to know that there are other lighthoues lovers out there too. Sorry I missed the open house at Trinity Buoy Wharf but I may compensate by a visit to the real Trinity Buoy Yard at Harwich again some soon. They are huge!

I may add the Stargazing book to my to read list at the library. I noticed it when I was looking up books on lighthouses. Also amazed to find a couple of books on women lighthouse keepers - inspiring!

Unknown said...

Amazing pics are they copyrighted?

Unknown said...


alot of money has been made on the back of this!

colleen said...

Steve - The pic in the link you gave does look remarkably like the one I took. I googled images for Southwold limehouse and there are only 4 or 5 of the interior staircase and they are not the same.

Naive of me to think people might have the common courtesy to ask for permission to pubish, as I ask in my sidebar. However, I really don't want to watermark my pictures.

Thanls for pointing this out.

colleen said...

I mean lighthouse of course. (Limehouse is down the road!)