Trinity Lighthouse, Europa Point, Gibraltar, from the sea. 1841. 20m high, with the light itself 49m above Mean High Water. The lighthouse stands right on the south-eastern tip of the Rock, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean to the east. At the time, there was much debate about bringing the lighthouse under the jurisdiction of Trinity House, and, in consequence, levying a shilling tax on vessels passing Gibraltar, part of which would then be used for the support of British lighthouses generally. Mr Hume, talking about it in the Commons on 24 July 1838, called Trinity House an "irresponsible body" which ought not to have still more powers invested in it! Nevertheless, an Act of Parliament was passed that same year in favour of Trinity House, and then again, much later, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 made the same Corporation the General Lighthouse Authority for Gibraltar.

The lighthouse from land, photographed by John Cummings.

Robert Wilkins (1799-c.1856) provided the original apparatus for the light and lantern, but many technical changes have taken place since then. In the Victorian period, for instance, its single-wick oil lamp was changed to a four-wick one in 1864, with a new lens and a red arc, so that it covered the dangerous Pearl Rock group on the western side of the Bay's entrance. The light was made more powerful in 1875 and then again in 1895, and on the latter occasion an "explosive fog signal" was added (see "Europa Point Lighthouse"). It has continued to be improved since then, under the auspices of Trinity House, which has its Planning Centre in Harwich, Essex. The lighthouse's status is unique, in that it is the only one outside the UK to be regulated by Trinity House.

Text and first photograph by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Second photograph by John Cummings, from Wikimedia Commons, available on the Creative Commons licence with attribution (BY-SA 3.0). Click on both images to enlarge them.


"Europa Point Lighthouse." Trinity House. Web. 15 January 2019.

The Parliamentary Debates from 1803 to the Present Time, Vol. 111. Hansard 1838. Goofle Books. Web. 15 January 2019 (Free Ebook).

"Robert Wilkins" (Institution of Civil Engineers, 1857 obituary). Grace's Guide. Web. 15 January 2019.

Created 14 January 2019