Brittany Lighthouses

Tagged by London blogger and member of the MEC (Mutual Enjoyment Club), Brian Micklethwait in a lighthouse post? I had better document that.

Brian shares a photo of a poster in a shop window; a poster featuring 12 Brittany Lighthouses, which I love, and which I have half-inched to share here:


Two things I noted about the poster (which I now want for my study wall). Firstly, the second lighthouse from the left is La Jument, a 48m high stone tower built in 1911, and apparently “The most famous lighthouse in the world”. Why the fame? Because of this famous (see?) photo by famous lighthouse photographer, Jean Guichard, which has sold over a million copies.


But you must ignore that motivational crap about looking fear in the face, because when the photograph was taken, the lighthouse keeper Théodore Malgorn (for it are he in the doorway) had no idea that the wave was coming, as this account testifies:

Malgorn, suddenly realising that a giant wave was about to engulf the structure, rushed back inside just in time to save his life. In an interview he said “If I had been a little further away from the door, I would not have made it back into the tower. And I would be dead today. You cannot play with the sea.”

The photograph – taken on the 21st December 1989 – won second place in the 1991 World Press Photo awards. (The winner was Guichard’s compatriot Georges Mérillon.)

Aaannd the other thing that interested me particularly about the post was the “coffee cup rings” over each of the towers. I don’t think that they are actual coffee cup rings – I’m hoping that they are examples of light characteristics – a representation of the sequence of flashes that differentiate and identify each lighthouse.

My theory is supported by the fact that La Jument (remember that? It’s famous, after all) has a light characteristic of Fl 3 R 15s that’s 3 flashes of a red light every 15 seconds. And look at its coffee cup ring:


Assuming that ring makes up a minute (and ignoring that awkward gap, top right) I can see three flashes 4 times there.

It’s this sort of technical detail which I love about posters like this. It makes it less of a picture and more of a document. And just as I know that my readers needed to know who won the 1991 World Press Photo awards, I know that you’ll want to know the full light characteristic for Cape Agulhas lighthouse. And that is: Fl W 5s 31m 30M – a white light flashing every 5 seconds, 31 metres above sea level and visible for 30 nautical miles. .

Other selected lighthouse light characteristics include (but are not limited to):

Slangkop: Fl 4 W 30s. 4 white flashes every 30 seconds.
Cape Point: Fl 3 W 30s. 3 white flashes every 30 seconds.
Green Point: Fl W 10s. White light flashing every 10 seconds.
Dreswick Point (IOM): Fl 2 W 30s. 2 white flashes every 30 seconds.

Lighthouses, eh? I’m a sucker for them.

Wales, last year

Incoming from a correspondent – a photograph which includes a lighthouse.


Regular readers will know that I’m a sucker for a photograph which includes a lighthouse, and this is no exception. I’m told that this is Porthcawl in the midst of a 2015 winter storm. Whether that’s correct or not (looking at images having googled ‘Porthcawl’ would suggest that it is), it’s an amazing picture.

While all the focus is drawn to the dramatic, angrily competing seas centre stage, the nearly insignificant red light of the lighthouse plays a wonderful cameo on the left.

Very nice.

Thanks A Correspondent 

New Brighton Light

After Liverpool’s dramatic win last night, something scouse seemed appropriate. This is almost scouse.
The New Brighton Lighthouse in Merseyside doesn’t work anymore – it hasn’t worked for over 40 years – but that doesn’t stop it being photographed an awful lot. That’s probably because of its proximity to semi-human habitation, being right at the mouth of the River Mersey.


Alternatively, you can grab a quick shot from the other side if you’re passing.

Either way, when you’re a bit short of time and you need a quota photo of a lighthouse, New Brighton features at the top of the quantity and, fairly often, the top of the quality scale as well.

Note the Liverpool Giraffe Sanctuary in the background.


I’ve got a massively busy day ahead, including several (or more) experiments in the lab and then a fairly long drive later. There will be beer and brandy at the end of the fairly long drive, but that doesn’t help you much if you’re after a 6000 miles…  blog post.

In times such as these, I head for the quota photo cabinet, usually immediately delving into the lighthouse section, and today is no exception.

Fullscreen capture 2016-04-08 085217 AM.bmp

This is the Chicken Rock lighthouse, perched (appropriately enough) upon the Chicken Rock (well, where else would you put it?), just off the SW coast of the Isle of Man (and we’ve seen it before on the blog).

The 44 metres (144 ft) lighthouse is constructed of tapered granite and was designed by David and Thomas Stevenson, after the lights on the Calf of Man were insufficient at warning ships away. Construction finished in December 1874, with the first official lighting day taking place on 1 January 1875.

Thomas, by the way, was the father of famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

If you’re interested, there’s some interesting Chicken Rock Lighthouse history here.

Another lighthouse

I’m heading down to Agulhas this evening for a much-deserved break, and I’m determined to do some braai’ing, some exercise and some photography, so look out for the results of at least one of those things on here over the weekend.


Of course, there’s a famous lighthouse down there too, but this one, in North Wales, UK, popped up on my flickr feed (from the same guy that did this), and you know what I’m like with lighthouses.

So, if you’ll excuse me, the open road and some fresh sea air await.
Once I’m finished here in the lab.