Former Helwick lightship


Former Helwick lightship, Harbour Drive

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UPDATE: This page is now archived. The former Helwick lightship was towed away from Cardiff in May 2015 and with it went the HistoryPoints QR codes which enabled people to read its history on their mobiles. If you would like to discover different historic vessels in Cardiff Bay, see our web page about the World of Boats. In the vicinity of the lightship's mooring is the former Customs Office, now part of the Waterguard pub.

This lightship was built in Dartmouth, Devon, in 1953 as Light Vessel 14. Lightships were anchored above sandbanks or other areas of shallow water as a cheaper and more practical alternative to lighthouses where there was a need to warn mariners of hazards in offshore locations. Lightships had no engines for self-propulsion and were towed to and from their positions.

Trinity House, which looks after the UK’s lighthouses, stationed Light Vessel 14 at Kentish Knock, a Thames estuary sandbank. Subsequently the lightship was anchored at other locations including near Cowes (Isle of Wight), at Scarweather (Swansea Bay) and in Morecambe Bay. It was stationed off Rhossili, on the Gower peninsula, to warn of the invisible threat of the Helwick sandbank from 1984 until its withdrawal from service in 1989.

Light Vessel 14 was adapted in 1975 with a landing platform to enable staff to be taken to and from the ship by helicopter. The ship’s living quarters housed a team of seven people who took care of the lamp and other equipment.

In 1993 Light Vessel 14 was bought and restored, with support from Cardiff Bay Development Corporation. Renamed as Lightship 2000, the ship functioned as a Christian Centre and popular tourist attraction until it was closed in October 2013.

Postcode: CF10 4PA

Thanks to RNIB for the audio presentation of this page