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)
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.