Saturday, September 5, 2009
Attention all shipping
I normally leave this kind of thing to Peter Ashley, over at the excellent Unmitigated England, a fine photographer of lighthouses as of much else. He would not have parked at the far end of the sea front, leaving himself with a twenty-minute walk across a deserted beach in a stiff wind blowing tons of dry sand in a landward direction. A few hundredweight of this sand lodged itself in my nostrils and ears, more of it sandblasting my face and probably my camera lens too.
But in the end, buffeted and battered, I made it to the Low Light, Burnham’s sea-shore lighthouse on poles. This unusual structure was built in 1832. It was the third lighthouse in the town, replacing the Round Tower slightly inland, which now survives at half its original height, and complementing the High Light, a more conventional pillar lighthouse not far away.
On its nine timber posts it has held up very well, surviving both the Round Tower and the High Light, which blinked its last in 1993. The staircase is a recent replacement in galvanized steel. It takes the same form as the original wooden stair, but has openwork treads so that the load of water pressure on the structure is not so great at high tide. A light is still displayed through the window at the side of the Low Light, so it remains useful to shipping as well as a notable landmark for those walkers who are rash enough to brave the Burnham breeze.