Morag Horseman, Chairman of the Friends of St. Mary’s Island, kindly provided us with details of the history of the original optic of LV21. With the help of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers and the Friends of St. Mary’s Island LV21’s original optic was donated back to the ship in February 2013 and can now be seen installed in the generator room.
The lightship optic on its tall red framework at the base of St. Mary’s lighthouse tower will shortly be moved back to the ship for which it was manufactured – Lightvessel 21 – now moored on the Medway. The optic has been standing in the base of St. Mary’s Lighthouse since 1990, after being rescued by volunteers from the site of the present Rising Sun Countryside Park. Prior to being assembled at St. Mary’s, the lightship optic had been stored in pieces there. Nobody was aware of its existence and significance until the then manager, Malcolm Green, contacted the manager at St. Mary’s, Stephen Gregory, to say he thought they had some sort of lighthouse equipment which would be cleared away if no-one wanted it.
In 1988 the Light Vessel was brought to the Tyne for conversion to automatic operations, and replacement of the original electric lighting apparatus. At the time there were two collieries, a brickworks, a household rubbish dump and a quarry at the Rising Sun, and it was obvious that it was also used as a dumping ground by various shipyards on the Tyne.
The restoration work on the lightship optic was carried out by the volunteers and its installation effected by them in conjunction with Pickfords Heavy Division. By 1995 volunteers had fully restored the light and the Friends donated a panel with the vessel’s history attached to the metalwork.
Morag Horseman – Chairman of the Friends of St. Mary’s Island
In February 2013 the Friends of St Mary’s Lighthouse kindly donated the optic back to LV21. Read more here…