I climbed up the lighthouse a little after most of the group. I had been photographing birds in the heathland,so nearly missed the experience. Stuart was painting, so he and I went in again later, and then in the evening some of us climbed up again, it is rather spellbinding! They all excitedly insisted that I go inside the the huge Fresnal lens.
It was fascinating. Curved sections refracted light and images, people inside the lens appeared larger than usual, the distortions caused a sense of wonder and lots of laughter. Sometimes rainbows appeared, at others I could see right through to the sea beyond.
I really loved the geometric shapes made by the upper and lower sections of the lens. Imagine all the work the lighthouse keeper had just keeping those glass sections polished! Can you see the relatively small globe, the source of the light that once flashed out across the ocean to warn ships of the rocky Cape?
The original oil-fired lantern could be seen 19 nautical miles out to sea as it flashed every minute on a revolving, clockwork mechanism that still remains in the lighthouse. The mechanism made by Chance Bros Birmingham can still be seen today. The original lighthouse needed a team of three lighthouse keepers to keep the beacon going. The keepers were on duty at all times and each would take a five hour shift overnight to keep watch and make sure the light never went out. Before electrification the keeper had to had to crank a handle and raise a set of iron weights up through the centre of the lighthouse every 45 minutes with each winding process taking five minutes or more. The weights would slowly descend again, keeping the light turning on its axis.
For me, part of the pleasure of a lighthouse was simply enjoying the spiral staircase, a fine work of art on its own!