Wyre Lighthouse

Remains of the Wyre Lighthouse can be found on the North Wharf Sandbank around two miles offshore from Fleetwood.  This sandbank is exposed at low water. The lighthouse marked the position of the Lune Deep and navigable channel of the River Wyre into Fleetwood.

Wyre Lighthouse was unusual in its design and was originally known as the Port Fleetwood Lighthouse. It worked with the two Fleetwood lighthouses which, when aligned, guided ships safely into the channel.

It became the world’s first offshore screw-pile lighthouse and was designed by Irish engineer Alexander Mitchell. Although Mitchell had become totally blind by the age of 40, he was still able to carry out engineering work.

Work on a similar type of screw-pile lighthouse started on the Maplin Sands in the Thames estuary.  However, Maplin Lighthouse was not completed until after the Wyre Lighthouse was established.  Several other screw-pile lights followed at Gunfleet and Chapman.

Wyre Lighthouse
Drawing of the original Wyre Lighthouse

The lighthouse consisted of seven wrought iron piles with screw bases drilled into the sand.  A thick layer of earth and stones was laid on the sand before the iron piles were drilled into the sand.   Seven timber posts supported the structure. Each 16-foot-long pile was 3 feet in diameter and formed a hexagonal platform, with the seventh pile forming the central support.   On top of the structure, a two-storey dwelling with a lantern was placed. 

Work started on its construction in 1839, and the lighthouse was first lit on 6th June 1840. 

The hexagonal accommodation was 22 feet in diameter and 9 feet high.  It consisted of two compartments: a living area and a bedroom. 

The twelve-sided lantern was 10 feet in diameter.  Its light was visible from an elevation of 31 feet, visible for 8 miles.  A fog bell was also installed.

The Wyre Lighthouse was struck on several occasions by vessels. However, in May 1948, the accommodation was destroyed by fire, after which the light became automated.  An automatic buoy replaced the light in 1979.

Wyre Lighthouse
The remains of Wyre Lighthouse in June 2024
Photo: Ruth Drinkwater

Since then, the lighthouse has fallen into disrepair, and in July 2017 part of the structure collapsed into the sea, and its future is uncertain. A Facebook page Save the Wyre Lighthouse – Fleetwood has been set up to try to help. An annual Wreck Treck in association with the RNLI takes place with a guided walk to the lighthouse.

Established: 1840
Discontinued: 1979
Engineer: Alexander Mitchell