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1. From Historic Times To Electrification

As an island nation, we in the UK are used to seeing lighthouses around our coasts, however have you ever stopped to contemplate after they were first constructed and how they labored in these early days.

The aim of lighthouses is obviously to mark harmful coastlines, rocks and reefs and to aid navigation, particularly at evening or in misty conditions.

Ancient times
The primary recognized warnings made to boats of hazardous rocks and shores, were fires, set at the sting of the water, however it was in Egypt that we first heard of precise constructions being built, which used gentle to information ships.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Built on the island of Pharos, the lighthouse was commissioned by Ptolemy in 290 B.C. It took 20 years to build, and turned the tallest constructing in existence, apart from the great Pyramid, standing at between 450 and 600 feet in top, and was recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

It is thought to have price across the equivalent of three million dollars or £2.8 million. Its design was nothing like the slim structures we are familiar with at present. It consisted of three phases, the first being within the form of a large field constructed on a 20 foot excessive stone platform. On top of this was an eight sided tower, adopted by a cylinder that extended to an open cupola where the fire burned to offer the light. On its roof was a big statue, thought to be of the sea god Poseidon. The fire’s gentle was believed to have been projected right into a beam by the use of a big curved mirror, most likely manufactured from polished bronze. It was said that ships may detect its indicators as much as 100 miles away, the light from the tower by night time, and the smoke from the fire by day. This claim however appears a bit excessive.

The lighthouse turned so famous that the title “pharos” turned the foundation of the word “lighthouse” in lots of languages. It stood for over 1,500 years, surviving a tsunami in 365 Ad, but earth tremors resulted in cracks forming in the construction which wanted restoration. Then, a serious earthquake in the area, in the 14th century, prompted such extreme harm that the construction finally collapsed.

Different early lighthouses
In medieval times the Iranians apparently erected massive minaret towers in the mouth of the Persian Gulf to assist navigation. In China, the medieval mosque at Canton also had a minaret serving as a lighthouse, and in 1165 a pagoda recognized because the Liuhe Pagoda, was inbuilt Hangzhou and acted as a lighthouse for sailors in the Qiantang River.

One of the oldest working lighthouses in Europe is Hook Lighthouse, constructed at Hook Head in County Wexford, Ireland in thirteenth century and in-built circular design. Two lighthouses, called the Pharos, were built at Dover (UK) quickly after the Roman conquest of Britain. They have been constructed on two heights (the Jap and the Western). The one on the Jap Height nonetheless stands in the grounds of Dover Castle.

Another well-known early Roman lighthouse is the Tower of Hercules, probably built in the first century, on a peninsula at A Coruna in north-west Spain. It was initially recognized because the “Farum Brigantium”, the Latin word farum being derived from the Greek pharos.

The sunshine was originally produced using a wood fired system situated on the summit platform, but the lighthouse was abandoned after the Viking Invasions of 854-56. It was restored in the 14th century when the town grew to become one of many kingdom’s largest ports, and by the seventeenth century it had been fitted with a dome shaped lantern. Extra restoration was completed in the early 18th century, and in 1847, a system utilizing Fresnel lenses (see later) was put in. It was electrified in 1926, with a beam visible for up to 32 nautical miles and is the oldest Roman lighthouse in use at the moment.

Light sources
Some early lighthouses used wick lamps as a light supply and often the beam may solely journey just a few miles. The Argand hollow wick lamp and stone island two tone crew neck sweatshirt parabolic reflector were developed in Europe round 1781, whereas within the USA, whale oil was used with wicks till the Argand system was introduced around 1810,which was then later replaced with Colza oil (similar to rapeseed oil), lard oil and then Kerosene.

The Fresnel lens

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In 1822 a Frenchman, named Augustin Fresnel, discovered how to increase the sunshine intensity using prisms, and the primary Fresnel lens was installed in 1822 within the Cordouan lighthouse in the mouth of the Gironde estuary. This light might be seen from 20 miles or 32 km away. By the 1860s, low-mild-loss Fresnel lenses, a lot bigger than the unique ones, have been in use in lighthouses round Britain and France, their use quickly extending to Italy and further afield to Australia and America.

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