Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse

Coordinates: 53°19′51″N 4°37′09″W / 53.330898°N 4.619268°W / 53.330898; -4.619268
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Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse
The Lighthouse on Holyhead Breakwater
United Kingdom
OS gridSH 257 848
Coordinates53°19′51″N 4°37′09″W / 53.330898°N 4.619268°W / 53.330898; -4.619268
Height19 metres (62 ft)
ShapeSquare tower
MarkingsWhite tower with a broad black band in the upper part, white lantern
OperatorStena Lines[1] [2]
HeritageGrade II listed building Edit this on Wikidata
Focal height21 metres (69 ft)
Light sourceMain power
Range14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi)
CharacteristicFl (3) G 10s.

The Holyhead Breakwater Lighthouse stands on the Holyhead Breakwater outside the Welsh port of Holyhead, Anglesey.


The structure, which was completed in 1873, was most likely designed by Victorian civil engineer John Hawkshaw after he took control of Holyhead harbour works in 1857.[3] The lighthouse was the last major building completed on the breakwater.[4]

The three-storey black and white tower, unlike many contemporary lighthouses, is square.[3] It measures 22.25 feet (6.78 m) on each side, is 63 feet (19 m) high and rests 70 feet (21 m) above the high-water mark.[4] It has chamfered angles and a stepped plinth set on an oval platform on the breakwater.[3] A square design was chosen because it made the living quarters more comfortable.[4] Much of the original living accommodation inside remains intact.[4]

The tower's external features include a roll-moulded string-course projecting above the first floor level. There is also a moulded cornice which supports a walkway around a circular glass-housed light. The tower is surmounted by a weathervane and finial.[3] The enclosed fresnel lens creates a light with a range of 14 mi (12 nmi; 23 km).[3][4] This lighthouse is considered architecturally important because it forms part of the ambitious Victorian engineering works to create "harbours of refuge" throughout Great Britain.[3]

In the 19th century, packet ships approaching Holyhead in the fog would be warned by a bell operated from the lighthouse. In the late 1870s, this was supplemented with rockets which would complement the gun fired from the fog warning station on North Stack, Anglesey.[5]

The lighthouse was manned until November 1961, when it was automated. Among the last keepers in the 1950s were Arthur Burgess and David John Williams. The latter later became a speaker for Trinity House giving talks on the service.[4] Like most other lights in Gwynedd, it is now operated from Trinity House's Holyhead Control Centre.[3] Today the upkeep of the lighthouse is the responsibility of Holyhead port authority, which is operated by Stena Line.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Wales". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  2. ^ Holyhead Breakwater Light Lighthouse Explorer. Retrieved 1 June 2016
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Hague, D. B. edited by S. Hughes (1994). Lighthouses of Wales, Their Architecture and Archaeology. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. ISBN 1-871184-08-8. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Denton, A., & Leach, N. (2008). Lighthouses of Wales. Landmark Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84306-459-6.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Renton, Alan (2001). Lost Sounds: The Story of Coast Fog Signals. Dundurn Group. p. 185. ISBN 1870325834.

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