On the 20th of June we were off to visit Souter Lighthouse! It was so interesting finding out what life was like when four lighthouse keepers and their families lived on site and about how the lighthouse worked to warn ships that the dangerous North East coast was so near. We carefully climbed the steep stairs to the very top of the lighthouse tower where our guides, Keith and George, told us about the magnificent light that shone red and could be seen up to twenty seven miles away. The fog horn, only used when the light couldn’t be seen clearly, could be heard up to 10 miles away and operated a sound code so seamen could identify the lighthouse it came from. The light itself was made up of 1008 prisms and weighted as much as four and a half tonnes, as much as an elephant! The lighthouse, designed by engineer, James Douglas, was the first to be lit up with electricity long before any other in the country. We were very keen to find out that from the top of the lighthouse you can see thirty miles away and it stands 75 feet tall and is built on a cliff 75 feet from sea level. Next stop were the cottages where the lighthouse keepers and their families lived. We found out that children shared a bed ‘top to tail’ and the baby slept in the bottom drawer of the dresser! One family had nine children so two of the children had to sleep in the cottage next door as there was no room for them to sleep in their family cottage! Imagine that – going to sleep in your next door neighbour’s house very evening! Life was actually good for the people who lived there in this small community – free coal, pigs to rear and a vegetable garden to tend all came as perks, not to mention the fresh air – it was different altogether than the lives of the miners families in the nearby Marsden Colliery. We had lunches in the sunshine and then created electrical switches that would light up our model lighthouses. You should have heard the oohs and ahhs as we got our switches to work to complete our circuits.

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