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Lighthouses of South Wales

The lighthouses of South Wales are in Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Glamorgan and Newport, and there are several minor lights in West Wales.


Please note that some of these lighthouses offer holiday accommodation, or may be privately owned, so please take care not to trespass or drive on private property. Please refer to the Lighthouse Directory page for more information.

Lighthouses of South Wales

Dyfed

The western section of the Welsh coast stretches from Dyfed to Cardigan Bay, and Aberaeron to Cardigan form part of the curving Cardigan Bay.   Aberystwyth has a minor harbour lighthouse. The fishing village of New Quay has narrow streets leading down to a harbour which has a small harbour light.  The previous lighthouse was destroyed during a storm in 1937 and there were plans to restore it.  Poet Dylan Thomas lived here in the 1940s.

Pembrokeshire

The River Gwaun gives the town of Fishguard its Welsh name of Abergwaun (meaning Estuary of the Gwaun) and flows into Fishguard Bay.  Here the North Breakwater Lighthouse on the eastern end of the harbour was built in 1906.

Marking the western end of Fishguard Bay, with its basalt columns, is Pen Anglas, where you can find a former diaphone fog signal.  It was discontinued in 2008.  There is a circular walk from Goodwick which will take you to the headland.

The impressive Strumble Head Lighthouse sits on the headland of the same name.  The lighthouse guides vessels travelling from Fishguard to Ireland.  It is linked to its island from the mainland via a small iron footbridge.

South Bishop Lighthouse is about five miles off St David’s Head on the southwestern tip of Pembrokeshire.  Located on the small island of Emsger, marking the St George’s Channel, it was built in 1839.  It is one of a few Trinity House lighthouses to have square panes in its lantern.

Around twenty miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire lies the Smalls reef. A wooden pile lighthouse was first erected here in 1776. Built by Henry Whiteside, the structure was first assembled at Solva on the mainland. The current masonry lighthouse replaced this in 1861.

The Smalls Lighthouse has a dark history.  Two lighthouse keepers originally lived at The Smalls whilst on duty. But, one of the keepers died. His colleague, concerned that he would be charged with murder, lashed the body to the rails of the lantern gallery until help came. It was some weeks before the relief boat arrived to find the lone keeper and his dead colleague. After this incident, three keepers would be on duty at all rock (offshore) lighthouses.

Both lighthouses were constructed at a work yard in the village of Solva.

Just off the southwest coast of Pembrokeshire is Skokholm Island.  Its neighbours are Skomer and Grassholm Islands.  Skokholm Lighthouse was established in 1916. it works with South Bishop and Smalls Lighthouses to aid shipping through Milford Haven and the Bristol Channel. Following modernisation, the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales took over ownership from Trinity House.  The building is now used by the island wardens.  The light is now operated outside the building.

South Wales Lighthouses

Along the coast, the striking cliffs of St Ann’s Head mark the entrance to Milford Haven where ships and supertankers traverse the estuary.  There have been a number of lighthouses marking the headland.  St Ann’s Old High Light worked in conjunction with St Ann’s Low Light, which is still operational.

At Great Castle Head is an Iron Age hill fort. The unusual square building of Great Castle Head Lighthouse also guards the headland here.  It lines up with a Rear Light for vessels turning into the Haven channel.

Further upriver from Milford Haven is the former Trinity House Depot at Burton Ferry, near Neyland, built in the early 1860s. It serviced the lighthouses and lightvessels in the area until operations transferred to the Swansea Depot in 1926.

Lighthouses South Wales

Further along the coast, just over 2 miles offshore from the seaside town of Tenby, is Caldey Island. Caldey Island Lighthouse was built in 1829 and worked in conjunction with Lundy Lighthouse in the Bristol Channel.

Caldey Abbey dominates the island, built in 1910 by Anglican Benedictine monks.  Regular boat trips go over to the island from Tenby.

Just along the coast from Tenby is the harbour village of Saundersfoot.  Saundersfoot Lighthouse was built in 1861 to mark the entrance to the harbour.  It used an ingenious device to mask the light during low water, indicating when it was safe to enter the harbour.

Carmarthenshire

The harbour at Burry Port replaced old Pembrey Harbour as it developed with the expansion of the coal trade from Gwendraeth Valley.  The distinctive lighthouse has undergone restoration in recent years.

Carmarthenshire lighthouses

Glamorgan

Across the estuary from Burry Port is Whitford Point Lighthouse.  This is the oldest remaining wave-swept cast-iron lighthouse in Britain, established in 1854. Though now disused and on the endangered list, it is possible to walk out to the lighthouse at low water.

Marking the entrance to Swansea Bay, just past the Gower Peninsula Mumbles Lighthouse is on a small tidal island off Mumbles Head.  It is possible to walk out to the island and low water, with care.  Mumbles Lighthouse was the last coal-fired lighthouse built in Britain. There are spectacular views across the expansive bay towards Swansea.

Nestled within Swansea Bay, the city has a rich history.  The former LV91 Helwick Lightvessel is moored alongside the National Waterfront Museum.  Swansea Museum has further lighthouse exhibits and artefacts. You can find various maritime sculptures in Swansea, some with a lighthouse theme, on the seafront within the Maritime Quarter.

There is a Trinity House Lighthouse Depot at Port Tennant in Swansea. The depot is responsible for the maintenance and servicing of lighthouses within the western region. 

Close to Neath Abbey is the derelict lightvessel LV72. The lightship marked a safe passage through minefields in the English Channel for landing craft in June 1944.  She was codenamed Juno after the landing beach she protected.

The holiday resort of Porthcawl developed as a port in the 19th century, but trade later declined. Porthcawl Lighthouse was built in 1866 and is one of two surviving cast-iron lighthouses in Wales.  It was also the last Welsh coal and gas-powered lighthouse.

Located between Bridgend and Cardiff, Nash Point Lighthouse was built in 1832. Two lighthouses initially worked together as leading lights to mark the dangerous Nash Sands. The low Lighthouse is still in existence but was decommissioned in the 1920s.

Glamorgan lighthouses

Nash Point was the last Welsh lighthouse to be automated, on 5th August 1998. Two of the cottages now offer holiday accommodation.

A few miles off the coast of Barry, in the middle of the busy Bristol Channel, lies the island of Flatholm. A cholera isolation hospital operated here during the Second World War.  Built in 1737, Flatholm Lighthouse was extended in height in 1820 and again improved in 1866.

Around three miles from Flatholm is Monkstone Lighthouse, marking a submerged reef in the Bristol Channel.

Newport

Newport lighthouses

West Usk Lighthouse is an unusual drum-shaped building. It overlooks the Severn Estuary and marks the entrance to the River Usk estuary leading into Newport.  Built in 1821 it was discontinued in 1922 and restored by the current owners who run it as a hotel and wedding venue

East Usk Lighthouse is visible across the estuary from West Usk, and can be reached via the country park.

Just South of Newport at Goldcliff is a pleasant walk along the embankment.  Here you can find the unusual minor light of Goldcliff Lighthouse.


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