Caught by the River

Lighthouses of the UK #6: Wyre Light

Ben Langworthy | 9th July 2018

Illustrator Ben Langworthy continues his mission to draw each of the 300+ lighthouses which litter the UK coastline

Standing two miles off the Lancashire coast, Wyre Light was completed in 1840 and was the world’s first screw-pile lighthouse.

Screw-pile lighthouses are strange and ingenious buildings; they are supported by iron stilts which are driven deep into the soft silt of the seabed. Atop these spindly and rather precarious-looking legs, a platform is built, and on top of this a building is constructed. The idea was that screw-piles could be erected in places that stone lighthouses couldn’t. The slim profile of their legs also meant that unlike their stone counterparts, they had little resistance against the harsh onslaught of the sea, rising several feet above the swell.

After over a hundred years of protecting ships from the treacherous sandbanks, the Wyre Light was destroyed by fire in 1948, and was replaced by an automated beacon light. This was deactivated in 1979 and the structure fell into disrepair. A local campaign fought to save this historic structure, but no authority would admit ownership or responsibility for it, and sadly last year it collapsed into the sands, soon to be claimed by the sea – and joining that long list of the U.K.’s lost lighthouses.