Bidston Lighthouse

Bidston Lighthouse

Following the collapse of one of the Leasowe Lighthouses in 1770, a new lighthouse was built two miles further inland on Bidston Hill, a sandstone ridge with commanding views over Liverpool Bay and the River Mersey.

The 55ft high four-storey octagonal tower was built of local stone and became known as the Upper Sea Light, aligning with the remaining lighthouse at Leasowe to form leading lights, guiding vessels along the Horse Channel, which the two Leasowe Lights had previously done.

Prior to the lighthouse being built, a series of board and flag signals had been established on Bidston Hill, forming an important communication system for shipowners operating from the Port of Liverpool.

The first lighthouse keeper at Bidston was Richard Wilding, previously a keeper at Leasowe Lighthouse, and he was also made responsible for the signal station.

The old signal system using flags and boards was extended in 1826, and a series of telegraph stations were installed along the coast from Holyhead to Liverpool.

At Bidston, the Keeper William Urmston’s daughter Jane was appointed the first telegraph keeper. The new system was so efficient that in clear weather a signal could be sent from Holyhead to Liverpool in 35 seconds.

A new observatory had been built in Waterloo Dock, Liverpool in 1845, but because of the smoke and pollution within the area, the decision was made to move it to Bidston.

Bidston Observatory
Bidston Observatory

By now the lighthouse was in disrepair and fire damaged part of the roof. During the construction of the new observatory, some sections of the lighthouse were removed, and plans were drawn up for a new lighthouse and cottages.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board were established in 1858, and the lighthouse and telegraph station were then combined.

The new Bidston Observatory was built in 1866. The original lighthouse was demolished in 1872 and a new lighthouse a few yards further north, designed by George Lyster was constructed, completed in 1873.

The electric telegraph, by now installed, was directed from a dedicated room beneath the lantern.

Now under the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board jurisdiction, a more traditional system of three keepers was introduced, with two on duty, and one off duty.

Bidston Lighthouse

Bidston Lighthouse was discontinued on 13th October 1913. The telegraph apparatus was removed the following year. The last keeper, Alfred Morgan, remained at the lighthouse until 1916 as a caretaker.

The lighthouse cottages and gardens were later sold to Birkenhead Corporation for the use of the people of Birkenhead. In 1947 the lighthouse was reportedly used by sea cadets to practice sending semaphore signals.

The lighthouse and cottages are now in private ownership, and regular guided visits of the lighthouse are available by arrangement or on scheduled open days.

Established: 1771, Current tower: 1873
Discontinued: 1913
Engineer: George F Lyster
Tower Height: 21 metres