Built by Thomas Fonnereau in 1751, Lizard Lighthouse consists of a cottage between two towers. Before the introduction of electricity at the lighthouse, a watchman would have to sit in the cottage, making sure the lantern stayed lit by sounding a horn at the fire-keepers if the lantern dimmed.
In 1771, Trinity House – a charity dedicated to safeguarding seafarers – took on responsibility for maintaining the burning of the lighthouse lantern. In 1811, the charity replaced the coal lantern with oil lights, and in 1845, they added three more cottages to the site. In 1874, the Engine Room was added – which allowed the lighthouse to be powered by electricity – and more cottages for the extra staff who were now employed to help run the lighthouse.
A rotating First Order optic was added to the eastern tower in 1903, but this was replaced by an electric filament lamp in 1936. After this, the lighthouse became automated and no longer required keepers.
In 2009, the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal, after a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund enabled Trinity House to renovate the lighthouse and surrounding site; the Engine Room was re-purposed into a Visitor Centre and audio-visual exhibitions and interactive displays were installed. Today, the lighthouse is monitored by Trinity House’s Planning Centre in Essex.
p>WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO?The Heritage Centre offers something for adults and children alike, with bright and interactive displays, and plenty of historical artefacts to discover including 12 foot-long light vessel optics. Climb right up to the top of the lighthouse and marvel at the stunning, panoramic views of the Atlantic.
Back downstairs, sound the fog horn, have a go at building the giant foam lighthouse, learn Morse Code and how to use Semaphore Flags to send messages, complete your own weather log book, learn all about maritime satellite navigation and hear keepers’ stories about life in a lighthouse. Tours of the lighthouse are also available, at an additional charge.
There is a gift shop onsite, but no café – however, nearby Polpeor Café offers a good range of hot meals and snacks, as well as wonderful views. Why not enjoy a stroll along the coastal footpath after your visit – you might even spot a dolphin or Cornish chough.
OPENING TIMES AND PRICES
The Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre is open from the end of March to the end of October each year, from Sunday to Thursday, from 11am to 5pm. Admission prices are as follows