Nash Point lighthouse
This lighthouse was built in response to concerns about shipwrecks on this section of the coast. Matters came to a head when a passenger ship, PS Frolic, foundered on the sands in March 1831 while carrying almost 80 passengers from Haverfordwest to Bristol. There were no survivors. The captain left a widow and nine children.
Trinity House, which owns and operates lighthouses for general navigation in Wales and England, instructed its engineer, Joseph Nelson, to build two towers. These would stand 300 metres apart, on the clifftop. The work was completed on 1 September 1832, just 11 months after the foundations were laid. The eastern tower stood 37 metres high, the other 25 metres. The twin towers ensured that the lighthouse was visually distinct from other towers in the area during daylight, to help mariners pinpoint their locations.
The lower light was decommissioned in the 1920s because red sectors were then in use on the main tower. These red lights supplemented the main beam but were only visible when ships or boats came too close to shore. The top of the low tower was removed in the 1950s.
A fog signal, using compressed air, was added in 1906 to provide an audible warning when the weather obscured the light and coastline from mariners. The fog signal is no longer needed but is sounded twice a month, for visitors’ benefit.
In February 1907 two ships collided off Nash Point. The Heliopolis, travelling from London to Cardiff, smashed several times into the side of the Orianda, carrying coal from Cardiff to Italy. The Orianda sank with the loss of 14 lives.
Three of the four cottages were for the lighthouse keepers and their families. The fourth was for the family of the keeper of an offshore light. A keeper was employed to ensure the light was lit and functioned correctly every night. The light at Nash Point was converted to run on electricity in 1968.
All lighthouses in Britain are now automatically operated. Nash Point was the last in Wales to lose its keepers, in August 1998. Today the lighthouse complex hosts a visitor centre. Visitors can climb the tower to view the equipment at the top and enjoy the view. The centre is licensed for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, when the fog horn takes the place of the church bell!
Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Samtampa memorial, Sker Point – 47 died when Mumbles lifeboat tried to rescue ship’s crew in 1947
Penarth lifeboat – saved the captain’s wife and baby from a German shipwreck in 1896