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Eddystone Lighthouse

The Eddystone Lighthouse is a lighthouse off the coast of Devon, England. It is situated on the treacherous Eddystone Rocks approximately 14 miles south-west of Plymouth.

The current structure is the fourth lighthouse (some say it is the fifth - the first was considerably rebuilt after a major storm in its first winter; the challenge was met by four main designs).

The first was an octagonal wooden structure created by Henry Winstanley and the light was first lit on 14 November 1698. It lasted five years before a great storm on 27 November 1703 erased almost all trace of it, killing Winstanley in the process.

The second lighthouse was designed by John Rudyard as a conical wooden structure and was first lit in 1709. It survived until 2 December 1755 when it was destroyed by fire.

The third lighthouse was perhaps the most notable as it marked a major step forward in the design of such structures. Recommended to the task by the Royal Society, civil engineeer John Smeaton pioneered the use of 'hydraulic lime' (a form of concrete) and developed a technique involving dovetailed blocks of granite in the building of the lighthouse (1755-59).

His lighthouse (the shape modelled on that of an oak tree) remained in use until 1877 when it was discovered that the rocks upon which it stood were becoming eroded. The lighthousee was dismantled and partially rebuilt at Plymouth Hoe as a memorial. The foundations remain on the Eddystone Rocks, close to the new (and more solid) foundations of the current lighthouse.

The current, fourth lighthouse was designed by James Douglass, developing some techniques pioneered by Robert Louis Stevenson, and opened in 1882. The tower is 51m high.

The lighthouse inspired the shanty that begins

'My father was the keeper o' the Eddystone light.
He married a mermaid one fine night.
Out of this union there came three:
A dolphin and a porgy and the third was me...'

Smeatons Tower atop Plymouth Hoe