Skokholm Island is located just off the southwest coast of Pembrokeshire. The island is just over a mile long by half a mile wide and is neighbour to Skomer and Grassholm islands.
Skokholm Lighthouse is located on the south-west side of the island. Established in 1916 the lighthouse worked in conjunction with the South Bishop and Smalls Lighthouse to aid shipping movements into and out of Milford Haven and the Bristol Channel.
Skokholm Lighthouse was the last traditional stone-built lighthouse to be constructed by Trinity House. The octagonal tower sits on top of the compact accommodation block. Within the building, the air compressors were housed to power the reed fog horn.
Unusually it shows a red flash every 10 seconds, probably to distinguish it from South Bishop and St Ann’s Head lighthouses.
A landing stage on the sheltered east side of the island was built to construct the lighthouse. A steam crane hauled materials ashore and onto a small narrow-gauge railway. Two small wagons were hauled up to the lighthouse by a donkey called Jenny. Frustratingly, Jenny often seemed to know when a relief was due as she would often hide, sheltering in the rocks that blended in with her coat colour!
A pony named Prince later replaced Jenny. Like his predecessor, he would often stubbornly stand in the large pond in the middle of the island, or rear up, upsetting the trucks. Eventually, a tractor replaced the horsepower.
Initially, the Trinity House Depot at Neyland carried out the lighthouse reliefs by boat. When the Neyland Depot closed in 1925, reliefs took place from the Trinity House Holyhead Depot.
During the 1970s helicopter reliefs began. The reliefs for The Smalls Lighthouse, South Bishop and Skokholm Lighthouses were carried out from the operational helicopter base at St Ann’s Lighthouse.
Skokholm Lighthouse was modernised in 1971. Diesel generators were installed for the navigation and domestic lighting. The original optic was replaced, and a Supertyfon fog signal replaced the previous fog signal.
In 1983 the lighthouse was automated. An electric nautophone replaced the previous Supertyfon fog signal. St Ann’s Lighthouse took over monitoring of the lighthouse until the Trinity House Depot in Harwich later took on this operation.
In 1999, the light’s character was changed from red to white with a red sector showing to the north and east. The fog signal was discontinued.
Further modernisation took place in 2007 when an array of solar panels were installed on the building’s roof. The backup generators were removed in 2012, replaced by a smaller backup generator.
An LED optic replaced the fourth-order optic and continues to operate from outside the lighthouse.
The island is owned and managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and is the site of Britain’s first offshore bird observatory, established in 1933.
The Philipps family had owned the island since the 1640s. However, since the 20th century, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales managed the site, using buildings on the island. By 2006 the buildings had become almost derelict, and the Trust put on hold their role as a bird observatory.
Following a review of navigation aids in 2010, Trinity House announced their intention to discontinue Skokholm Lighthouse. Trinity House offered the building to the Wildlife Trust and following a fundraising campaign they purchased the lighthouse. Two full-time wardens were employed from January 2013, living in the lighthouse. The old island buildings were also restored.