St Ann’s Head Low Lighthouse marks Milford Haven’s entrance and is located on the site of the earliest lighthouse in Wales. The earliest light was a chapel, St Ann’s, dating back to the middle ages, built to commemorate Henry Tudor’s landing.
By the late 1950s, Milford Haven had become Britain’s most significant oil port. Milford Haven’s approach is reached through difficult and treacherous channels, and various headlands can obscure visibility on the approach.
The original light consisted of a coal brazier, tended to by a monk or hermit. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536, the church light was extinguished and not lit again until 1660.
Trinity House permitted local merchants to collect voluntary payment from passing ships for the upkeep of the lighthouse. Following accusations of extortion, the Corporation withdrew their permission in 1667. The light went out once more.
Trinity House granted Joseph Allen the landowner a lease sometime later. In 1713 two leading lights were built, the Low Lighthouse, and the High Lighthouse. When kept in line these lights guided ships clear of Linney Head, Angle and the Crow and Toes rocks.
After much disagreement and negotiation, two new lights were completed in 1800, designed by Captain Joseph Huddart and Samuel Wyatt, Consultant Engineer to Trinity House. New dwellings were also needed.
The new towers both housed Argand oil lamps, one with 16 silvered copper reflectors, the other with 11, and this new form of lighting improved their visibility.
In 1814 control for the two lighthouses reverted back to Trinity House. By 1838 the low light was in danger of being undermined as the cliffs were eroding.
The current operational lighthouse replaced it in 1844. Trinity House Chief Engineer James Walker was the designer. The two lights each displayed a fixed white light, visible from a range of 18 miles.
The operational low light, only 42ft in height, 157ft above sea level, is not easily obscured by fog. It was electrified in 1958, and a white light flashes once every 5 seconds, with a red sector light which shines out onto the Crow and Toes Rocks. The station was automated in 1998.
The original keepers’ dwellings built with the 1844 lighthouse attached to the low light were demolished, and new accommodation was built in their place during the 1950s.
In 1967 a new low light was established on the site of the Mid Channel Rocks to the south of the headland to assist the entrance of large tankers.
St Ann’s Head Old High Lighthouse light was established in 1800, designed by Captain Joseph Huddart and Samuel Wyatt, Consultant Engineer to Trinity House. It replaced the original 1713 lights.
Both the Old High Lighthouse and the Low Lighthouse, when kept in line, guide ships clear of the Angle and the Crow and Toes rocks off Linney Head.
The Old High Lighthouse operated until 1910.
At the start of the Second World War, the lantern was removed, and an imposing, flat lookout was built. The Coastguard used this lookout until 1993 when the operation moved to Milford Haven.
Original fittings still appear in the old lighthouse, including the radar scanner once used by the Coastguard.