Caught by the River

Lighthouses of the UK #11: Llanddwyn

Ben Langworthy | 17th March 2019

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

When is a lighthouse not a lighthouse?

Looking out to sea from the rocks above a small beach on the coast of Ynys Llanddwyn (a small island off the coast of Anglesey in Wales) is a rather unusual lighthouse.

Also known as Tŵr Mawr, which translates from Welsh as “Great Tower”, it stands some 33 feet high and is said to have been built in 1873 — but it may be a fair bit older. The records of the time refer to the building of the lighthouse as being an adaptation of an ‘earlier tower’ — one which is present on the Ordinance Survey maps of 1818. Indeed, this conical building doesn’t look much like a traditional late 19th century lighthouse.

Clues to help unravel the mystery of this peculiar building’s origins can be found across the local Anglesey countryside which is known for its windswept landscape.

Scattered here and there you can find several similar structures in varying states of disrepair but it is not until you come across a more complete example, such as the famous Melin Llynnon, that their original purpose becomes apparent.

Anglesey’s iconic windmills were mostly built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and harnessed the power of the island’s most abundant resource to grind grain. Over 50 are know to have originally been built of which the evidence of around 37 still remain.

So when is a lighthouse not a lighthouse? Well, when it was once perhaps a windmill.


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