Three and a half miles from St Ives, just a stretch from the jumbled cliffs of the headland, stands Godrevy Island. On calm days, the seawater laps at the fat lumps of rock that form its base. On a stormy day, the waves pound at those walls of black rock, spitting white foam high into the air. Whether in calm or storm, Godrevy Island is an impressive sight, a stalwart landmark crowned with the Lighthouse. The lighthouse, squat and brilliant white, sits at the centre of a scrawny patch of grass atop the rocks, surrounded by a low stone wall that separates the island’s only greenery from the imposing black rock it is made of.
The light house and its island home are beautiful and awe inspiring sights. Godrevy Lighthouse has a long and interesting history. We decided to take a closer look.
Lying mostly submerged to the north if the island is a perilous reef known as the Stones. Many a ship and sailor has be caught afoul of those terrible underwater predators throughout the ages. Perhaps the most famous was the NILE, an iron screw steamer which sank there in November 1854. All her crew and passengers were lost to the waters, and the tragedy caused outrage and cries for action from the public and also the shipping merchants whose lives revolved around traversing the most dangerous parts of the coast.
Trinity House eventually acquiesced, and on March 1st 1859, the light of Godrevy Lighthouse shone out in the darkness for the first time. The lighthouse was designed by James walker, and its two keepers maintained the red and white lights, the former always on, the latter flashing at 10 second intervals. The white light travelled for 17 miles to warn ships of the dangers of the coast, while the red reached for 15.
Construction and operation
At the time, the lighthouse cost £7,082 15s 17d – well over £400,000 in today’s money. The tower is octagonal in shape and 26 metres high, built from rubble-stne bedded in mortar and rendered smooth on th outside. The lenses were rotated by a clockwork mechanism, but was replaced in 1939. A new light was fitted and the lighthouse became fully automatic. Again it was altered in 1995 to convert it to solar power operation, and the light itself was removed from the tower and placed in an adjacent steel structure.
The island and its lighthouse make for a stunning landmark. It would be hard to miss the bold rocks rising above the sea or the 26 metre white tower, which on a sunny day almost glows. It can be observed from the top of the headlands opposite, or the nearby beach of Gwithian Sands. To best appreciate it, take a boat trip on MV Four Sisters, the largest passenger vessel in St Ives harbour. They run daily scheduled trips to the lighthouse. to book call 01737 750008 or go to www.stivesboatservices.com
Want to see Godrevy Lighthouse? Book a holiday cottage in St Ives today.