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Great Orme's Head Lighthouse

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Awdurdod Unedol (Lleol)Conwy
Hen SirSir Gaernarfon
Great Ormes Head Lighthouse is a square, castellated two-storey building situated on the steep limestone cliffs of Great Orme's Head, 99m (325ft) above the sea. The lantern was at ground level with the signal and telegraph room above. The signal room on the north-western elevation of the lighthouse still retains telescope ports in its windows. The south-eastern main elevation has a central doorway surmounted by a plaque which reads:

This Lighthouse was erected by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board 1862 C F Lyster, Engineer

The doorway is flanked by wide bays with chamfered windows on both floors, surmounted by the machicolations of the castellated parapet. The sides of the lighthouse and its yards are enclosed by high blast-walls of massive construction similar to the rest of the building. The white rendering applied in 1974 has now been removed to reveal the limestone masonry of the structure. The lighthouse is now a hotel. The optic, bulb changer and timing mechanism can now be seen in the nearby Visitor Centre.

Event and Historical Information:
A letter from a K. Parker on the 3 December 1861, recorded in the Trinity House Minute Books, expressed the need for a lighthouse on the Great Orme which Trinity House approved. There had been a telegraph station in the vicinity, but no earlier light. They decided that the optic should be dioptric. It was designed and constructed by G. Lyster, engineer-in-chief to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (who also altered the Point Lynas Lighthouse in 1871). The light was first shown on 1 December 1862. It was Lyster's only design for a complete lighthouse. The original light used paraffin wick lamps, replaced in 1904 by vapourizing petroleum mantle burners, superseded in 1923 by dissolved acetylene mantle lamps producing 13,000 candle power. The light shone white from 099-243degrees with a red sector upt to 251 degrees and was taken over by Trinity House in 1973. The light shone for the last time on 22 March 1985 having been made redundant by radar. The lighthouse then reverted to the ownership of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company who sold the property. The telegraph equipment was also removed around this time. The original lantern decorated the offices of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Liverpool, for a period but has since been returned to be displayed at the summit of the Great Orme.

Sources include:
Hague, D, 1994. Lighthouses of Wales: Their Architecture and Archaeology, pg41-2

Maritime Officer, December 2008.