Bull Point Lighthouse

Bull Point Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Bull Point Lighthouse is located close to the village of Mortehoe. Mortehoe has a dramatic history of wreckers and smugglers.

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The tapering headland of Morte Point is renowned both for its wild beauty and its treacherous sea conditions. Seafarers were warned to ‘avoid the race and rocky ridge of Morte Point. Twice daily, the incoming tides swirl around the dreaded Morte Stone, a sunken reef of rocks separated by a deep channel. Many ships have foundered on the rocks along this coast, five in the winter of 1852 alone.

The name Mortehoe means ‘stumpy’, referring to the shape of the headland. Yet some believe that the Normans christened it the ‘Death Stone’, Morte meaning death.

Bull Point Lighthouse
The original Bull Point Lighthouse
Photo: John Frost Collection

Bull Point Lighthouse guides vessels off the north Devon coast with a red sector light marking the Rockham Shoal and the Morte Stone.

A light was first established at Bull Point in 1879. The lighthouse operated without undue incident for 93 years. Then, on 18th September 1972, the Principal Keeper reported ground movement near the engine room and lighthouse.

Original tower
The original lighthouse tower
Photo: John Frost Collection

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 24th September, 50 feet of the cliff face crashed into the sea. A further 50 feet subsided, causing deep fissures to open up inside the boundary wall. Walls cracked and the engine room and fog signal station partly collapsed, putting the fog signal out of action. The lighthouse tower was also deemed unsafe.

Later the same day a lighted buoy was placed off the point to provide a navigation light. This was later replaced by a lattice tower placed on the headland. The old light tower was borrowed back from the Nature Conservancy Council who had been using it as an elevated hide. Trinity House had donated it when the nearby Braunton Lights were renewed. The lighthouse optic was installed in the temporary tower.

Bull Point postcard
The temporary light at Bull Point

A lightvessel was placed offshore, providing a temporary fog signal until it could be replaced by the three diaphone fog signals.

A new lighthouse and Principal Keeper’s dwelling were built at the cost of £71,000. The new building was officially opened in July 1975 by the Deputy Master of Trinity House, Captain D S Tibbits. The lighthouse was designed and built so that as much equipment as possible from the old lighthouse could be reused as it only dated from 1960. The optic was installed at Bull Point’s third site, and much of the fog signal equipment was also reused.

Bull Point Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

The fog signal was discontinued in 1988.

The lighthouse is situated on the hill above the holiday cottages. Three of these are in the 1870s terrace of dwellings; the fourth cottage is the detached 1970s bungalow.

Some of the cottages are dog friendly.

Accommodation

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Established: 1879, Current tower: 1975
Tower Height: 11 metres
Light Character: Fl (3) W 10 s
Light Range: 20 miles
Elevation: 54 metres
Automated: 1975
Fog Signals: Discontinued 1988