Mariners are being advised that Flatholm Lighthouse deosn't look quite the same because there's scaffolding around it

Mariners are being advised that Flatholm Lighthouse doesn’t look quite quite its normal self  because there’s scaffolding around it

The two familiar lighthouses visible from Penarth –  the Flatholm Lighthouse and the Monkstone Light –  are  both undergoing some springtime maintenance by their owners Trinity House.

Mariners have been warned that the lighthouse on the island of Flatholm – normally seen as a stark white tower – currently has scaffolding around it and that navigators using it as a “daymark” during hours of daylight may find it doesn’t look quite as it normally does. A Trinity House ‘Notice to Mariners’ says that “There will be no apparent alteration to visibility of the light during night-time”.                  

The Flatholm Lighthouse  was built following the loss of 60 soldiers in a shipwreck in the area on 1736 and was funded from a charge of a penny half-penny (1 1/2d) a ton levied on the cargoes of merchant ships – on both the inward and outward voyages.

The lighthouse was taken over by Trinity House in 1819, strengthened and increased in height . Originally the light had been produced by a coal brazier, then by various oil lamps and is now solar-powered with – remarkably – just a 100 watt light.

The impressive twin horn compressed air fog signal (seen on the left of the photo above) was built alongside the lighthouse in 1908 and was more that capable of keeping Penarth awake on foggy nights until it was finally silenced in 1998 . Trinity House says that fog horns are no longer ‘significant’ aids in the modern age of electronic navigation.

(Press the play button to be reminded what the Flatholm fog signal sounded like)

The Monkstone's twin lamps flash as a square-rigger passes heading for Bristol

The Monkstone Lighthouse has been guiding shipping on the Bristol Channel for 177 years

Meanwhile Flatholm’s sister the Monkstone Lighthouse – which is built on the tidal rock the “Monkstone” –   is also to undergo  an eight-week  refurbishment programme starting on April 28th, 2016.

During this time mariners are being warned that  “it will be necessary to temporarily discontinue the aids to navigation exhibited from the lighthouse”. 

Whilst the work is in process two temporary yellow and black lightbuoys –  the Monkstone West Lighted Buoy – with a “West Cardinal” topmark on it – and the Monkstone South Lighted Buoy with a “South Cardinal” topmark will be installed nearby. Full details are on the Trinity House website

Monkstone was built in 1839 and was converted to  solar power 1993.

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  1. Christopher David says:

    I loved that sound. Copying as my ring tone.

  2. David Moorcraft says:

    Thanks for the sound of the foghorn. Only, speaking as one who grew up on Penarth seafront in the ’40’s and 50’s , it’s not as I remember it. Perhaps the distance altered it, but it used to make a deep two-tone sound :-
    “Whoooo – whump”.
    Perhaps it was changed ?
    (I also have lovely childhood memories , lying in bed on a summers evening , hearing the rhythmic beat of the paddle steamers as they brought boatloads of trippers back from exotic Weston and Ilfracombe.)

    • newsnet says:

      There was an old fog horn at the entrance to Queen Alexandra Dock which was used occasionally up until about 20/30 years ago . It started on a very low note – much lower than Flatholm’s horn – and gradually increased in pitch and then rounded off its call with a characteristic low disapproving grunt.The records say it was a Secomak piston horn signal – British made of course, in Hayes Middlesex.

  3. Jane Foster says:

    I miss the fog horns. I was really sorry to lose such a comforting sound from my childhood.

  4. Landlubber says:

    You can still hear a foghorn sounding on a regular basis at Nash Point lighthouse. The beautiful engine is lovingly maintained by volunteers who also run the lighthouse as a visitor attraction. My 8 year old daughter was ‘allowed’ to press the switches to set it off and the resultant blast of sound nearly knocked me over! They have a website at with opening times etc.

    • whatsoccurin says:

      in 1980 approx I went on a Residential two day training course at Atlantic College-fog horn kept us awake both nights-I think that was most probably the Nash Point hooter!

  5. Christopher David says:

    I’ve stood next to the one on Flatholm when it went off on test without notice. Jeeeezz very LOUD- Me and 30,000 herring gulls hit the clouds.

    • snoggerdog says:

      also lesser & greater black backedgulls with a few black headed gulls christopher

  6. Fishhenge says:

    Great story, well done PDN.

  7. Colin says:

    How do they get the scaffolding and maintenance crew there?

  8. snoggerdog says:

    miss the foghorn,council hooter & the maroons & from grove terrace as a child i could hear the men working on the dock at night.

Comments are closed.