Sevenstones Lightvessel is located on the Sevenstones Reef. The reef is around 7 miles northeast of the Isles of Scilly and 15 miles northwest of Land’s End in Cornwall. Countless ships have been wrecked on the reef over the centuries, which is in a very exposed position and often subject to North Atlantic storms.
Applications for the reef to be marked by a light date back to as early as 1826. A second petition was raised in 1839 and a meeting was held the following year, this time successfully.
Sevenstones Reef is only exposed at half tide, and it was not feasible to build a lighthouse on the rock, so a lightvessel was established near the reef. The lightvessel was towed into position on 20th August 1841, and a light was first exhibited on 1st September of the same year.
The crew originally consisted of ten men with five on station at any one time. Accommodation for the crew was provided on the nearby island of Tresco. The crew transported provisions out in the vessel’s longboat. On 15th October 1851, one of the ship’s longboats capsized while bound for Scilly with stores, and two crew members drowned.
The first ship was built by William Pitcher of Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Blackwall.
In November 1842 the Sevenstones Lightvessel broke adrift from her mooring. The crew managed to steer her to Tresco where she was towed back to her position. In January 1843 she broke adrift again, and after this, a new mushroom anchor was added which was more suitable for lightvessels.
On 30th January 1873, the barque Athole caught her rigging on the vessel, causing damage.
In May 1879 a temporary Lightvessel replaced the old ship, and in September 1879 LV50 was towed into place, with a revolving light. She was replaced by LV35 in 1883 when moved to London for repair and maintenance.
LV80 was in position during the Second World War and was replaced with a buoy as she was frequently bombed. In March 1948 she broke adrift, and LV19 replaced her in 1958.
LV19, built by Philip and Son of Dartmouth was launched in 1958. She was to become a witness to the Torrey Canyon disaster. The supertanker Torrey Canyon hit the reef on 18th March 1967, spilling around 100,000 tons of crude oil.
From August 1967 to December 1967 LV1, later Mary Mouse 2 was stationed near the reef.
LV22 built in 1968 in Lowestoft was on station between 1998 to 2001. And also LV 2 was in position in 2004.
Sevenstones Lightvessel was automated in 1987 when the crew were removed. The lightvessel also operates as an automatic weather station. Lightvessels located here have measured wave heights using Ship Borne Wave Recorders (SBWR).
On the island of St Martin’s is the Sevenstones Inn, which has some amazing views across the islands.
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