Hillbre Island Lighthouse is located on the largest of three islands located at the mouth of the River Dee estuary.
The island has been inhabited as far back as Roman times. From 1232 John Scott, Earl of Chester, paid ten shillings a year to the monks who lived on the island. The monks provided lights on the island.
In 1813 two beacons were built on the northern end of the island to guide vessels through Hillbre Swash, a channel between the River Dee and Hoylake.
In 1828 The Liverpool Dock Trustees obtained a lease for the island and established a telegraph signal station there in 1841. This formed part of a network of telegraph stations that ran from Holyhead to the Port of Liverpool. The system initially used semaphore flags to communicate the arrival of ships entering Liverpool. Later a morse telegraph system was adopted. Both Great Orme’s Head Lighthouse and Point Lynas Lighthouse on the north Wales coast formed part of this telegraph system.
In 1927 a navigation light was established, marking the Hillbre Swash. Initially, this was a lattice tower but has since been replaced by a box with panels and the light on top.
The light was initially powered using Acetylene gas. Its operation was transferred from the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board to Trinity House in 1973. The lighthouse was converted to solar power in 1995.
The Hillbre Islands are an important stop off point for migrating birds, and there is a bird observatory on the island.
It is possible to walk from the mainland to the island from West Kirby. The island is accessible for up to four hours every twelve, and it takes around an hour to cross the two miles to the island. Great care must be taken to check the tide times to avoid being cut off.