Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Mew Island Lighthouse

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1885. W. Douglass, M.I.C.E, Engineer.

Mew Island Lighthouse of Belfast, Lough.

Mew Isalnd Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses in Ireland and its optic is one of the largest optic of its kind ever built in the world.

A light station was established on Lighthouse Island in the early 18th century and a lighthouse built in 1815. It has been inactive since 1884, when the lighthouse was abandoned in favour of the Mew Island Lighthouse, but the ruined stump of the 16 m (52 ft) stone tower remains. The ruins of the keeper's house have been rebuilt to house a bird observatory. The island is now owned by the National Trust and operated by the volunteer members of the Copeland Bird Observatory. Overnight accommodation is available but only by arrangement with the Bird Observatory.

1796 Thomas Rogers installed a six foot diameter lantern burning six Argand oil lamps to a corner on the 40ft high Copeland Island Tower.

1810 Improvements were made to Copeland when the Corporation for Improving the Port of Dublin built a new 52ft high tower and lantern alongside the old tower to the diesigns of Mr George Halpin (Corporation Inspector of Works and Inspector of Lighthouses).

A fixed light with 27 Argand lamps and reflectors were lit on 24th January 1815 and the actual light was 131 ft above sea level.

January 1875 - The Belfast Harbour Commissioners were the first to request the removal of the Copeland light to Mew Island.

1882 Work commenced on the new station, designed by William Douglass (Engineer of the Commissioners of Irish Lights).

1884 The new light and fog signal began operating on 1st Nov 1884. The optic was manufactured in Paris by Messrs Barbier and Fenestre and supplied by Messrs Edmundson & Co of Dublin. Edmundson's also supplied the lantern, gas works and fog signal plant. Messrs Dixon & Co of Belfast were the contractors for the buildings and Messrs H. Fulton of Belfast for the five keepers' shore dwellings at Donaghadee.

1899 The siren fog signal was improved by replacing the two Crossley compressor sets with three Crossley 13 HP engines.

1928 The gas making plant, the last around the coast, was discontinued.

1949 A radiobeacon was established on 8th August.

The Keepers' shore dwellings at Donaghadee were discontinued and sold in October 1957 and the Keepers then lived in homes of their own.

1969 Paraffin gave way to electric lamps on 15th July 1969.

In June 1991, the diaphone fog signal service at the station was permanently discontinued.

1996 The keepers were permanently withdrawn from the station in March when the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation.[1]

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