Advanced Victorian Technology for a Deadly Coastline

My sister tells me that she remembers the light from Souter Lighthouse shining into our bedroom when we were very young children living in Whitburn, South Tynside. The lighthouse foghorn provided a very distinctive sound to help mariners steer clear of the very dangerous rocks of the nearby coastline.

Souter Lighthouse stands on the cliffs at Marsden. Opened in 1871 it was the first lighthouse in the world to be powered by electricity. Although modern GPS technology has all but made lighthouses redundant this historic set of buildings now provides visitors with a fascinating insight into lighthouse and foghorn operation.

Most visitors do not know that to the north of Souter there was a village – Marsden – demolished when the colliery at Whitburn was closed in the 1960’s. The colliery land was reclaimed and today’s environment provides wonderful clifftop walks around Marsden Bay. 

For history hounds the National Trust maintains the buildings and encourages visitors to explore the lighthouse, engine room (controls the foghorn) and the rooms where the keepers families lived. You can easily access the breezy clifftop walks with coastal paths both north and south towards South Shields and the attractive village of Whitburn. A great day out.

For more information and drections go to The National Trust website for Souter and The Leas. 

Location of Souter Lighthouse SR6 7NH

Sheila Bull

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