Chaine Tower

Chaine Tower
Photo: Patrick Tubby

The Chaine Memorial Tower in Larne is located at Sandy Point on the western side of the entrance to Larne Lough.  It is also known locally as The Pencil.

The tower was built as a memorial to James Chaine, a former MP for Antrim.  Chaine died in 1885 and was responsible for developing the route to Scotland from Larne.  He also helped establish the town as a transatlantic port.

Doorway and plaque

In 1885 the Memorial Committee for Chaine asked the Commissioners of Irish Lights to build a tower. Their initial application was refused, so the Committee decided to build an unlit tower at Sandy Point Bay. The Larne Harbour Authority agreed to maintain it.

The tower was completed in January 1888 and is built of Irish granite.

The tower was built with public funding, and its design is based on a traditional Irish Round Tower.

Chaine plaque
Photo: Patrick Tubby

A plaque on the tower reads:

“….contributions of every class in this mixed community irrespective of creed or party, all cordially united in esteem and affection for the Memory of JAMES CHAINE of Ballycraigy and Cairncastle Co. Antrim who represented this County in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland from February 1874 till 4 May 1885 when his early and lamented death in his 44th year of his age deprived his native County of one who had worked indefatigably for its interests especially in developing and improving the natural capabilities of the harbour of Larne and establishing its connection with Great Britain, the United States of America and with the inland parts of this County.”

In 1896 a light was proposed, and so from 1899, the Commissioners of Irish Lights agreed to take over responsibility for the tower.  An oil light was placed at the top.

Chaine Tower
Photo: Patrick Tubby

The light warns of the Hunter Rock, which is a submerged rock around 6 miles offshore.

In 1905 the lighthouse was automated and converted to coal gas from the mains gas.  It was converted to electric operation in September 1935.

Chaine Tower is easily accessed from the western side of Larne, close to Larne Leisure Centre.  Ferris Point LIghthouse is visible across the water, and the Maidens Lighthouse can also be seen out to sea.

Established: 1888
Tower Height: 28 metres
Light Character: Iso W R 5 s
Light Range: W 16 miles, R 12 miles
Elevation: 23 metres
Automated: October 1905