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Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 34350

Map Reference SM40NE

Grid Reference SM4666108846

Unitary (Local) Authority Pembrokeshire

Old County Pembrokeshire

Community Marloes and St Brides


Broad Class MARITIME

Period Post Medieval

Site Description Built a few feet above high-water level the tower, is 42m (138ft) high and tapers gracefully from a stepped base, is 42m (138ft) high. Its solid base has shallow steps to the level of the entrance 7.6m (25 ft) above the rock. Internally the entrance itself is reached by a bronze ladder built in the wall of the tower. The original lantern survives. In 1932 it was capped by a structure carrying a wind generator for radio communications. This was proved unsatisfactory and it was later removed. In 1978, the whole lantern was strengthened and a helicopter landing-deck fitted to its top. During this modernization programme, the vaporizing oil-lamps and the subsidiary red sector-light were replaced. Also an electrical generator, needed for the light and electronic fog-signals, was fitted within the tower; this involved the removal of some of the comfortable mural steps and their replacement by vertical ladders.

Event and Historical Information:
Geographically, the Smalls reef is the most westerly point of Wales, a reef of rocks 27km (17 miles) off the Pembrokeshire coast. This is a site is noteworthy for being the tallest and most graceful Welsh lighthouse. It represents the finest work of the prolific engineer James Walker. The first stone was laid in 1858 and the tower was completed in 1861. In 1870, Admiralty Sailing Directions gave the lighthouse's location as latitide of 51 43 20N and longitude 5 40 5W, and noted that it was 'coloured red and white in horizontal bands, and the lantern, which is 115 feet above high water, shows a bright fixed light, visible in clear weather from all directions at a distance of 15 miles'. The Smalls tower now carries an automatic light which is controlled from St. Ann's Head.

Sources include:
Admiralty, 1870, Sailing Directions for the West Coast of England from Milford Haven to the Mull of Galloway including the Isle of Man, pg7
Freeman, E, 1958, The Solva Saga
Emlyn, I, 1958, The Smalls: a sketch of the old lighthouse
Hague, D, 1994, Lighthouses of Wales: Their Architecture and Archaeology, pg70-5
Report of the Royal Commission on Lights and Buoys, 1861
Williams, T, 1900, Life of Sir James Douglas
Woods, E C and Rees, J S, 1948, `The Smalls Lighthouse' in Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society

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