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Where
Great Orme's Head Lighthouse

Great Orme’s Head Lighthouse is located on the Great Orme Headland just outside Llandudno and is unusual in its design.

In 1810 a signalling station was set up on Holyhead Mountain by the merchants of Liverpool, and between 1826 and 1829 this was added to by a complete chain of telegraph signals, the Great Orme being part of this chain. These telegraphs could send news of arrivals and departures of vessels from one end to the other.

The original station was located on the summit of the Great Orme, but was moved to the lighthouse when it was constructed. The Telegraph Room was located on the first storey at the front of the building. The room still has the telescope ports in the windows, and the equipment was still in place in 1979.

The unusual square structure was built in 1862 and designed by George F Lyster, Engineer-in-Chief of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. A fixed white light was first exhibited on 1st December 1862, with a red sector marking the Hoyle Bank. The arrangements of the red prisms, so constructed as to utilise wasted light from the main lamp, was the first to be used on an optic of the first order.

The lighthouse remained under the control of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board until 1973 when it was transferred to Trinity House. Ron Brett was keeper at the station from 1969 and promoted to Principal Keeper with his wife Gladys as Assistant Keeper when control passed to Trinity House.

A number of modifications were made after Trinity House took over, including white rendering, which was applied in 1974, but this has now been removed to reveal the original limestone masonry.

The light was decommissioned in 1985, and the ensign was removed in a Trinity House ceremony by Captain PM Edge of Trinity House and Captain KJ Lewis on behalf of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, to whom the lease then reverted. The last keeper, Ken Chapman was present at the ceremony.

Great Orme optic
Great Orme optic at the Summit Complex

The optic was removed and for a while was on display at the former Mersey Docks and Harbour Board headquarters in Liverpool. It was later repatriated and is now on display in the museum at the summit of the Great Orme.

Great Orme’s Head Lighthouse

  • Established: 1862
  • Height of tower: 11 metres
  • Discontinued: 1985
  • Engineer: George F Lyster