A centrepiece on Plymouth's Hoe, Smeaton's Tower has become one of the South West's most well-known landmarks.
What use is a lighthouse on dry land? Smeaton's Tower once stood about 14 miles out to sea - on a clear day you can still see the stump on the horizon where it once stood proud against the elements. Just like a tree, the tower bends in the wind. It's hard to imagine what it was like out there in the middle of a raging storm, as it bent to and fro and the waves crashed right over the top. It sounds terrifying, but the tower never snapped and now it’s the model for all lighthouses built on rocks.
Smeaton's Tower is a memorial to celebrated civil engineer John Smeaton, designer of the third and most notable Eddystone Lighthouse. A major step forward in lighthouse design, Smeaton's structure was in use from 1759 to 1877, until erosion of the ledge it was built upon forced new construction. John Smeaton has another claim to fame - he also invented quick-drying cement!
The lighthouse was originally built on the Eddystone reef in 1759 at a cost of £40,000, but was taken down in the early 1880s when it was discovered that the sea was undermining the rock it was standing on. Approximately two-thirds of the structure was moved stone by stone to its current resting place on the Hoe.
Smeaton's Tower has been a Grade I listed building since 1954. It is open for visitors, who may climb 93 steps, including steep ladders, to the lantern room, and observe Plymouth Sound and the city. Now standing at 72 foot high, Smeaton's Tower offers fantastic views of Plymouth Sound and the city from its lantern room which, along with the rest of the building, has been painstakingly restored to its original glory.
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