Previous Talk

A Lighthouse within a Fort

The entry below is a synopsis of our speakers talk on 15th February 2017.

Mrs. Dorothy Brownlee Chairman of Tynemouth Ladies Lifeboat Guild talked to us about “A Lighthouse within a Fort”.

Dorothy started with a photo of the area at the mouth of the Tyne and why they needed some form of warning during the night or bad weather to assist shipping, in 1536 Trinity House received permission to erect the High and Low lights which were candle powered which was completed in 1540.

The fort was built in 1672 at the start of the Third Dutch War. An earlier fort had been established on or near the site some thirty years earlier (a somewhat temporary structure consisting of gabions: "baskets filled with sand and mortar, with guns placed between the baskets") but this had been destroyed in action in 1644. The low light building was within the walls of the fort and proved to be a problem to the garrison for many years as the door access to the light which was an obvious weak point in the forts defences.

We were taken through each stage in the development of both the fort and the lowlights which required moving to reflect changes in the channel due to moving sand bars. The Low light building was upgraded from time to time and finally rebuild, the old Low light building which is now a Grade 2 listed building is the oldest surviving, occupied building on North Shields Fish Quay.

In the early 19th century, it was converted into an Almshouse and during the 20th century was used as a training establishment for the Deep Sea Fisheries Association and later the Maritime Volunteer Service. It stands within the Fish Quay Conservation Area, is owned by North Tyneside Council and leased to Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust.

A very good morning for all our members who thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, questions followed on several points to conclude.

  Farns 1.jpg (35265 bytes) Farns 2.jpg (35265 bytes) Farns 3.jpg (35265 bytes)

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