Thursday, 3 May 2007

South Foreland Lighthouse

This distinctive Victorian lighthouse is on the White Cliffs of "Dover". When you visit you can climb the 73 steps for spectacular cross Channel views. It was from the South Foreland lighthouse, on 28th December 1898, that Gugliemo Marconi made the world's first ship to shore radio transmissions and subsequently the world's first international transmission to Wimereux, in France, 28 Miles away. A visit to this National Trust property is fascinating. Although the lighthouse is no longer operational (it closed in 1988) the mechanism powering the rotation of the optic was restored in 2004 and the knowledgeable guides give a full account of its use and history. Originally built to help protect shipping from grounding on the Goodwin Sands it was the first lighthouse to have an electrically powered lamp. Michael Faraday, who in 1831 had discovered electro-magnetic induction (the principle behind the electric transformer and generator) was Scientific Adviser to Trinity House from 1836 to 1865. In this capacity he oversaw the installation of an electric carbon arc lamp at South Foreland in December 1858. It had been developed by Frederick Hale Holmes and used a large electric generator based on the principle that Faraday discovered.
South Foreland not only became the first ever lighthouse to be lit electrically but it was also the first site where electricity was used practically for the provision of power. During the late 1850s and early 1860s, Faraday visited many times to check on how the light was working.

No comments: