Newlyn Lighthouse

Newylyn Harbour

Newlyn Lighthouse stands on the south pier of the busy fishing port of Newlyn, on the western side of Mount’s Bay.

Newlyn flourished from the 1880s when a large harbour and two piers were built. In the early 20th century a new road system encouraged the large-scale exportation of granite from nearby quarries.  The rocks were transported along the south pier to waiting ships.

The 600 feet long south pier was completed in 1887 and the lighthouse built at the end.  It was first exhibited in March 1887.  


Newlyn Lighthouse exhibited a quick flashing white light, visible for 7 miles.  However, it caught fire in January 1896.  The keeper, William Maddern, tried to withdraw the oil supply, but the pipes melted.  He was badly burned trying to contain the fire when more oil washed over him. 

In 1914 the south pier was extended by 100 feet, and a new cast-iron lighthouse was built, which was first lit on 29th April 1915. 

Ordnance Datum Newlyn

A small concrete building was added adjacent to the lighthouse tower at the same time.  This houses a tidal observatory.

Newlyn Lighthouse

Prior to this, Newlyn had three wooden rod tidal gauges, one probably located on the pier.  These gauges provided information which was vital for larger ships with bigger draughts. At the same time, the Ordnance Survey was trying to display consistent heights of features on their maps.  A national baseline was needed, and the Mean Sea Level (MSL) became the basis.

Liverpool was chosen in 1844 to establish the First Geodetic Levelling between 1840 and 1860.  However, other coastal towns indicated variations in the measurements of MSL. Newlyn was included as one of three locations for a national tidal observatory to deliver the Second Geodetic Levelling.  

Newlyn Lighthouse is not accessible. On the north pier is a green sector light on a cast-iron column, and there are further sector lights in the Old Quay and Inner Quay.

There is a useful navigation guide video to Newlyn Harbour which shows the lighthouse clearly.

Established: 1915
Tower Height: 10 metres
Light Character: Fl W 5 s
Light Range: 9 miles
Elevation: 10 metres
Automated: 1915