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Historical Significance


The Severn Estuary off Black Nore Point has the second highest tide fall in the world. At times there are 50 feet between low and high tides. When considered with the jagged rock formations surrounding the point, Black Nore is a treacherous challenge to shipping.

Its position jutes out into the narrow channel, named "the Kings Road", which is the only passage connecting the port of Bristol with the open sea. For 116 years, through World Wars and countless storms, Black Nore Lighthouse has been marking the way for this critical sea passage.

In 1838 the SS Great Western ran aground off Nore Point, highlighting the need for a lighthouse. At low tide she became completely suspended by her bow and stern and was only able to float away on the returning tide due to her strong construction.

In 1906 a steamer was grounded on the rocks at Black Nore in thick fog and had to be rescued by five tugs.

The Ashford family lived at Black Nore Farm just down the footpath from the Lighthouse and maintained it on a daily basis. From the time it was built in 1894, the Ashfords rewound the clockwork drive mechanisms every day. For the next 85 years, three generations of the Ashford family continued to operate the Lighthouse.

During World War II the Lighthouse had to be converted to electric power so that it could be turned off immediately in case of enemy attack. The need for a gas supply was eliminated in 1941. The winding mechanisms were kept intact, but were changed from hand winding to be rewound by electric motors. Later in 2000 the winding and drive mechanisms were completely replaced by an electric motor.
From information supplied by local historian, Ken Crowhurst.