Start Point Lighthouse - South Devon

Start Point Lighthouse

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Start Point
Post Code

The Start Point Lighthouse stands on one of the most exposed peninsulas on the whole English Coast, she has safely guided vessels for over 170 years.

In 1834 James Walker got approval for the tower to be built and construction started in 1836. He had already designed 29 lighthouses including the Needles and Wolf Rock. Building it was consigned to a Huge McIntosh and records show it was the lowest tender at £2,765.

Standing 67 feet tall with the base walls 4ft 6 inches thick reducing to 2ft at the top, these granite facing stones were bought in by boat. The optic is the same as used in the Cordouan lighthouse near Bordeaux and was designed by a woman called Augustin Fresnel. Incredibly the light we see today is derived from a 1,000 watt bulb created through a series of connecting prisms which refract light into a single beam.

Originally, light was only provided by Argand oil burners invented by a Swiss man in 1784 called Aime Argand. The oil used was either from sperm whale, seal or herrings but rape seed was also used depending on availability and cost.

In 1862 a fog bell was erected and this could strike for 4 and a half hours without attention, in 1876 it was replaced by a powerful fog siren which could be heard as far away as Salcombe.

The lighthouse originally manned by just 2 people was increased to 3 with the arrival of this complex fog siren and additional dwellings and allotments were built to house their families and ensure their self-sufficiency; these are now holiday lets.


  • Parking - Plenty
  • Accessibility - No problem
  • Toilets - Yes
  • Refreshments - No
  • Dogs - Welcome year round (not inside)

The Visitor Centre is not open every day - do call in advance if you wish to take a tour to avoid disappointment.

Best for

History and beautiful coastal views out to sea.

Look out for

The light !

It's a fact !

Hugh McIntosh was blind! He had a very 'hands on' approach to the construction and accounting and was also President of the Institute of Civil Engineers, he was involved in the building of both Swansea South Docks and Falmouth Docks.


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