Berry Head Lighthouse

Berry Head Lighthouse

Berry Head Lighthouse is the shortest in Britain at 5 metres high but has an elevation of 58 metres from the clifftop.

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The lighthouse stands on a limestone headland overlooking Torbay and Brixham Roads.  This area provides a sheltered anchorage for vessels.

The lighthouse was built in 1906 under the direction of Thomas Matthews.  

The 15 feet high lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in 1921 following the installation of acetylene gas.  It was further modernised in 1994 when mains electricity was finally installed.

The tower is 190 feet above high water, so this meant that the tower had enough elevation and did not need any further height. A third-order optic was turned by clockwork and the weights descended into the rock shaft 45 metres down.  A small motor later replaced this.

Berry Head Lighthouse

In September 2019 further modernisation work took place when an LED lamp replaced the third-order optic.  The range was altered from 19 to 18 miles and the emergency light on the roof was also removed.

Berry Head Lighthouse is located just beyond the coastguard station, and there is also a radio beacon used for air traffic control.

In October 1942 both the lighthouse and coastguard station was attacked by German planes.  Fortunately, no major damage was caused.

Prior to 1875, a semaphore signal station was located on Berry Head acting as a Lloyds signal station for Torbay.

Berry Head

A military hospital was built to support the three Napoleonic forts on Berry Head.  Later it became home to poet and hymnist Henry Francis Lyte.  This was later turned into the Berry Head Hotel in 1949.

Access to the lighthouse is via Berry Head Country Park. Berry Head is a National Nature Reserve and also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and close to the lighthouse is a Napoleonic Fort.  There are coastal walks and a visitor centre and cafe nearby.

Established: 1906
Engineer: Thomas Matthews
Tower Height: 5 metres
Light Character: Fl (2) W 15 s
Light Range: 18 miles
Elevation: 58 metres
Automated: 1921