Painted in the 1890s, this work features Lizard Lighthouse which marks Britain’s most southerly point. The foghorns, engine house and 3 cottages where added only 20 years earlier to the 18th century lighthouse. It remains little changed and operational today.
Penlee House Gallery & Museum, 'The Birmingham Boys'. 11 June - 10 Sept 2011
Lizard Lighthouse was built by private entrepreneur and MP Thomas Fonnereau in 1752, marking the most southerly point of mainland Britain at the tip of the Lizard Peninsula. It comprised two towers with a cottage built between them, from which an 'overlooker' kept a watchful eye upon the coal fired lanterns. When the bellows-blowers relaxed their efforts and the braziers dimmed, he would give them a shrill reminder on a cow horn.
In 1811 Trinity House upgraded the coal lights with two oil lights and in 1845, three new cottages were added. Architecturally the greatest change to the site was the construction of the engine room in 1874, which made it possible to add the distinctive fog horns and electric power for the main navigational light. More cottages were also added at this time.
It is this substantial structure that we see in Frank Richards beautiful painting which was executed in the early to mid-1890s. It's a glorious summer's day and the we see some Victorian ladies and gentlemen in all their finery enjoying the coastline; a lugger sailing in Housel Bay below. Likely to have been commenced en plein-air and possibly finished in the artist's studio.
Lizard Lighthouse continues to guide shipping around Lizard Point and visually, is little changed. It's light can be seen from a distance of 100 miles.