Tyne and Wear
Engineering / Construction, Maritime
Souter Lighthouse is yet another North Eastern ‘world first’, being the first purpose-built lighthouse to use the new technology of electricity to light its beacon.
With its distinctive red and white hoops, the lighthouse was designed by James Douglass and opened in 1871. It was sited to warn ships away from the reefs submerged along the dangerous coastline and its beam could be seen up to 26 miles away.
The 117 years of Souter’s working life saw a succession of technological changes and improvements. The power was originally generated using furnace gas engines rather than steam and then changed to oil. The lighthouse didn’t become mains fed until after the Second World War.
Souter was acquired by the National Trust in 1990 and is the most significant building, both visually and historically, on this magnificent three mile stretch of cliff-top known as The Leas. Volunteers maintain the machinery to light the beacon and sound the foghorn, contributing to a memorable experience for visitors.