Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

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Liskeard Old Cornwall Society




President: Brian Oldham


Secretary:  Zac Leon


Treasurer: Mrs Brenda Furse


Recorder: Recorder: Mrs Paula Arthur


Archivist: Mrs Jackie Jenkins


Committee: Mrs P Arthur / Miss R Breen / Mrs B Furse / Mr D Howard / Mrs J Jenkins / Miss D Lobb /

Mr D Matthews / Mrs H Medlen / Mr J Rapson / Mr Z Leon



Click to contact this Society








Fri 10 Nov 17    The Lighter Side of the First World War

                            Di Lawer


Fri    8 Dec 17   In Search of Smugglers

                           Carol Vivian


Fri  12 Jan 18     Cornish  Eccentric Personalisties

                            Alan & Anne Cox


Fri   9 Feb 18     John Smeaton - Water, Wind & Tidal Mills

                             Duncan Paul Matthews


Fri    9 Mar 18   Jackie Research Project

                            Jackie Jenkins


Fri   13 Apr 18    Daffodils

                            Jo Totterdell (St Dominick)


Fri   11 May 18    Annual Social with Lee Dean Entertainment


*  Meetings held in the Public Hall, Longroom at 2.30pm each second Friday in the month.









On Fri 8 Dec 17, the former President of the Liskeard Old Cornwall Society spoke on ‘The Eddistone Reef’,  a five acre crop of

Red Devon Stone gneiss laying 13 miles South of Plymouth,  9 miles of Rame Head and 11 miles off Looe, getting its name from the Saxon King Edy who lost his life when shipwrecked there.


The talk began with the ealierest Lighthouse Beacons  created by the Greeks, Libyans and Cushites  750BC along with the 450 ft high Pheros Light in Alexandra, Egypt, light by a fire at the bottom and deflected up and out by mirrors.


Here in Cornwall  Monks maintained beacons around the coast of Cornwall supported by the loack Fishermen and merchantmen paying taxes by the ton until the Disillusionment of the Monasteries by King Henry V111, resulting in a great loss of valuable shipping through their loss.


As a result King Henry V111, stated up a charity for the widows and orphans of lost seamen calling it: The Guild Fraternity and Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity of St Clemence’, today known by its shorter title as ‘Trinity House’.


In 1695  Henry Winstanley (married to an Elizabeth Taylor), lost a number of valuable ships at the Eddystone and so partitioned Parliament for the right to build a Lighthouse on the reef, supported by a tax by the ton of all cargoes entering Plymouth.  (From this he had much opposition from Sir Christopher Wren also seeking such a lucrative income!).   Winstanley won his contract and build his first lighthouse on site.   During the building, the workmen were plagued by the Royal Navy Press Gangs and whisked off to sea!   On one occasion a French an of War seeking the workman unguarded swept in, stripped all the workmen naked and left them to their fate at high tide, taking Winstanley back to France as their prize.    King Louis XiV then returned him to the UK stating that ‘France was at war with England, not humanity’.   Unfortunately Winstanley first Lighthouse was not strong enough for the task so had it rebuilt within the year, then during the Great Storm of 1698 all was washed away with Winstanley with it


John Rudyard was the next on the scene to build Lighthouse No 3, designed as one would a Man of War, with central pillar and surrounded by heavy timbers, but the infamous sea worms grew to like this and the wooden framework had to be replaced all too often.  Disaster struck in 1755 when the lantern caught on fire, it then being quite a job descending 70ft feet for a bucket of sea water, then reclimbing the structure to throw it up about your head!    One of the Lighthouse men Richard Hall (aged 96 yrs) of Saltash, looking up with his mouth open then inadvertently swallowed an 8 oz lump of molten lead!   He lived for another week before giving up on life, the piece of lead remains an exhibit in the Plymouth University Museum.


Next on the scene was John Smeaton, in Cornwall to service the Newcomen Mining Steam Engines and build St Ives Pier.  Whilst designing his new enterprise the fourth Eddystone Light he went to see the extent of the damage to St Bartholomew’s Church, Lostwithiel from a Lightening Strike, from that his Lighthouse was to be the first ever building to have a Lightening Conductor.  He also reintroduced Roman Cement to his building programme that would set underwater.


Smeaton’s Lighthouse was unique in that  each tier of Cornish Grantite from the De Lank Quarries near Wadebrdge, were interlocked and jigs-awed together on the Wadebridge Quay before shipping to Millbay Docks Plymouth, reassembled and then shipped in barrages tier by tier to the building site, the workmen on site protected by the weather by sheeting to prevent them being wetted by spray, but still subject to harassment by the Royal Navy Press Gangs but by now, protected by a Government Medallion around their neck if worn(!)    Being of a more advanced thinking Smeaton had a Barrack ship anchored off the reef to house and feed the workman who would then be always ready onside as the tides allowed.   (At one stage Smeaton fell from the scaffold 90ft towards the rock beneath, just as a freak wave rushed in and engulfed him, breaking his fall!).


Unfortunately, after 136 yrs the seas took a toll on the foundations of the forth Eddystone Lighthouse and so had to be replaced by the current Douglass structure at 120 ft high     The light travels in a straight line to the horizon before leaving the earth’s curvature and heading off into space!    Each Off=Shore Lighthouse having its own identifying cyper of light frequency to allow shipping to know their position.


Two thirds of Seaton’s structure was eventually dismantled and removed to Plymouth Hoe giving way to the new.  Regretfully, during the storage of the 4 ton lantern in Plymouth this was destroyed beyond recognition by vandals. Smeaton’s ‘tree truck’ design  would allow the seas to envelop the structure  and not pressure it was soon to be the world’s accepted design, studied and copies by the Scottish Stevenson’s who build each of Scotland’s Off-Shore Lighthouses, one Blacksheep  son of the family who  was to become a  write; Robert Louse.   The presentation concluded with the perils of three men ‘Living in a Lamp Post’, as such close quarters for a month at a time, until their relief, (weather permitting!)   Living in a structure without fresh water or sanitation, without refrigeration of telephone communication and forbidden to leave the light and venture onto the reef incase of being washed away by a freak wave, their duty only to maintain the light.!

















Founded: 1928


Colours: Black, Red & Gold

Liskeard new Liskeard OCS Records The Parade, Liskeard. 1930s (Liskeard OCS)