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Views of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Member Name: ks.h
Date: 03/04/02, updated on 03/04/02 (209 review reads)
Advantages: Views of outsdanding natural beauty, Educational and historical, Fun for all the family
Disadvantages: Not all of Souter Lighthouse is accessible for wheelchair uses
Souter Lighthouse was designed by James Douglas and when it opened in January 1871 it was the first in the world to be powered by electricity and flashed a white light for five seconds every thirty seconds. Originally the foghorns were shaped like clay pipes but they were later changed to a more efficient design and were powered by compressed air at sixty pounds per square inch. The foghorns were switched on when visibility dropped to below two miles or when the lights on South Shields and Sunderland piers could not be seen. The sound of the foghorns must have been deafening for people living close by, as a child I lived about four miles (as the crow flies) from Souter Point and I can still remember clearly hearing the foghorns, especially during the night when it was so quiet outside. Souter Lighthouse closed in 1988 however it still serves a useful purpose as a Radio navigation beacon.
Since its closure the Lighthouse has been taken over by the National Trust and has been renovated. It has been repainted red and white hoops but it has been discovered that the original colours were orange and white hoops so this will eventually be rectified.
Souter Lighthouse is open to the public and tours include a visit to the Engin
e Room where you will find the machinery that powered both the light and foghorn, detailed manuals describing the workings of the Lighthouse, children’s activities and puzzles to help youngsters understand the importance of lighthouses and hold their interest plus short easy to understand descriptions of the machinery.
In the Compass Room you get a feel of what life was like for Keepers of the Lighthouse, there are also displays of shipwrecks, smuggling and piracy, a variety of navigational equipment, a model boat where children are encouraged to do a spot of role play and dress up and the workings of the Lighthouse are also explained with the aid of videos.
If you have a head for heights you can climb the seventy-six steps to the top of the tower to enjoy the spectacular panoramic views of the coastline from the mouth of the River Tyne right down the coast to the mouth of the River Tees, the sight is magnificent taking in The Leas, the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, as well as the changing moods of the North Sea down below.
Those who don’t fancy the climb to the top of the tower can enjoy the same view without leaving the Compass Room on the ground floor, there a is remote controlled CCTV camera in the tower operated from the Compass Room where the monitor is located, this is particularly useful to people with disabilities.
You can also look around the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage where authentic displays of rooms have been reconstructed behind glass screens and enjoy the home made refreshments on sale in Souter’s own tearoom.
After looking around the Lighthouse take a walk along The Leas, this is a wide grassy sweep, which follows the cliff top and stretches for nearly two miles north along the coast past Marsden Bay and Trow Rocks down to Gypsy Green Stadium, after the Stadium you come to South Shields promenade with a elevated walkway giving excellent views along the beach, the Amphitheatre
hosting a variety of summer entertainments, the Fun Fare, a Tourist Information Centre and the South Pier.
Visit Souter Lighthouse and enjoy a day of fun and education for young and old alike, taking in wonderful scenic walks, quiet coves, golden sands and mile upon mile of outstanding natural beauty.
Facilities at Souter Lighthouse
National Trust Shop
Education Officer and Education Base
Tearoom with indoor and outdoor facilities
Wheelchair access to ground floor
CCTV enables those unable to climb the tower to see the views from the top.
Special Event Days include children’s activity days, educational visits, local history society days, group talks, guided tours including the Leas, Christmas lunches and summer specials.
31ST March through to 31st October daily except Fridays, 11.00am to 5.00pm – last entry 4.30pm
Adult £3, Child (under seventeen) £1.50, Family Ticket £7.50, National Trust Members Free.
Telephone Souter Lighthouse on 0191 529 3161
Information Line 01670 773966
The Lighthouse is situated two miles south of South Shields on the A183 Coast Road to Sunderland. The road runs parallel to the Two Rivers Cycle Path.
Stagecoach buses running from South Shields Metro Station to Sunderland Railway Station stop at the main gate of Souter Lighthouse (sorry not sure of the number of the bus).
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