From the Lighthouse

I’ve been fascinated by lighthouses, and the stories behind them, since a child. Their isolation draws me; one place, one time, one rhythm – the turning of the light. You can find yourself alone by a lighthouse, no human voices just a solitary, stimulating experience.

Just the seagulls, the wind and the Fresnel lens – developed by French physicist Augustin-Jams Fresnel in 1823 – allowing the light from a lighthouse bulb to be visible over greater distances. It has been called the invention that saved a million ships. Today, many VR headsets use Fresnel lenses, like the Oculus Rift, to make it easier to focus on the displays.

The photographs on my web site are Trwyn Du Lighthouse, more commonly known as Penmon Lighthouse. It is my favourite lighthouse, situated between Black Point on Ynys Môn (Anglesey) and Ynys Seiriol, (Puffin Island), marking the entrance to the Menai Strait. Trwyn Du is accessible by heading east out of Beaumaris and through Llangoed.

The present lighthouse was built 1835-1838, is 29m tall and was designed by James Walker. The tower is distinguished by its original three black bands painted on a white background. It also bears the words NO PASSAGE LANDWARD on its north and south sides.

The tower has been unmanned since 1922 when it was converted to acetylene operation. The lamp was converted to solar power in 1996. It flashes once every five seconds and can be seen twelve miles away. A 178-kilogram fog bell sounded once every thirty seconds until in August 2020, Trinity House replaced the bell with an automatic foghorn. A sad moment. For over 50 years I’ve listened to the haunting yet soothing sound of the bell, a sound sacrosanct to the area.

I called my weekly blog From the Lighthouse, as every lighthouse has a story. The flashes themselves are the stories going out over the waves, as markers and guides, comfort and warning. Lighthouses are signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other. I thought it captured the essence of a blog about entrepreneurship.

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