The Old Light
All photographs on these pages are the property of the photographer Brian Tuohey.
They may not be re-published in any form without written permission, but may be downloaded for personal use.
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When I first published these pages, the original purpose was to create a pictorial record of the changes that took place in the 1980s as the old ferry terminal was replaced with new facilities. It was only during 2005 that I discovered that the pages were linked from several websites that provide lists and information about lighthouses all over the world. Some of the information that I have seen was slightly inaccurate, so the aim of this page is to record a little about what I know of the the history of the light. In addition, it shows the changes as the area was redeveloped in the 1980s.
From what I've read on some of those websites, it is probably incorrect to refer to the old building as a "lighthouse" at all, as it is too small. For this reason, I am calling it the "old light". As far as I know, it was only in use for a short period in the 1800s.
The lower part, the stone section, originally dates from the 1840s when the old pier, now disappeared was first built. There is more about the pier and its slipways elsewhere on these pages. In practice, it would only have been a working light for maybe 15-20 years, from the time that the pier was built to the period when the land around it was being reclaimed in the late 1850s. Since then it has been tucked away, almost forgotten and in various states of repair, until it was restored in the 1980s.
The current light housing is not the original and was only added to the base in the 1980s. The two parts together have never been used as a light. The current light housing was previously in use as a working light on the old landing stage.
After completion of the new terminal, the area around the light was opened up. Now, once again, people can walk around it and enjoy the views over the landing stage, out across the river and to the Irish Sea ferries that berth nearby in Birkenhead Docks. The light is situated on the promenade immediately to the north of the terminal building and cafe, overlooking the landing stage, in exactly the same place that it has occupied since the 1840s.
Three pictures that show different parts of today's light before redevelopment. The first two show the light housing in its former position on the front of the landing stage, and the second shows a view across the old landing stage to the terminal building, just as preparatory work prior to demolition was beginning. The base or stump of the lighthouse can be seen at the water's edge in front of the terminal building.
The bell and its stand were later transferred to the new landing stage and the light housing was placed on the stump of the old lighthouse.
During the Changes
The pictures above show the stump of the original light being prepared to take the top section of the light from the old landing stage and the light housing after being put in place. The reflections in the second picture are because it was taken through glass from inside the recently completed new terminal building.
These pictures were taken within weeks and months of the restoration work being completed. The bell that hung below the light on the old landing stage is shown below on the new landing stage.
All of these were taken with digital cameras in the last few years. The first picture below shows the bell in place on the new landing stage. The others all show the old light, including some shots taken at dusk in December 2006.