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Old Formby Lighthouse Visit

Being within the perimeter of the Altcar Rifle Range, the site of this old lighthouse on the bank of the Alt is normally “out of bounds” to the public and now almost completely forgotten. With the kind permission of Major WJ Hunter MBE, BM, TD, the Camp Commandant, the Society was able to arrange for 35 interested visitors to visit the site on Sunday 25th July 2010 as part of the Council of British Archaeology’s ‘Festival of British Archaeology’. Together with maritime historian Mike Stammers and archaeologist ,Mark Adams, we were then able to discuss the history of this structure, once described as the “Methuselah of local nautical structures” 

The Lighthouse was erected in 1719 and demolished in 1941; for most of the 220 years that it stood overlooking the Mersey approaches, it was simply a 120 ft tall unlit brick landmark but for two relatively short periods was converted to a lighthouse.

It was demolished in 1940 because it was too useful a landmark for German bombers heading for Liverpool so there is nothing to be seen now, but it once had great significance for the tricky navigation of the Mersey, being constructed in conjunction with Liverpool’s first enclosed Dock to improve safety of navigation of the ever-changing Mersey channels and having close links with nearby Formby Lifeboat Station, (Britain’s First).

Altcar Rifle Range have now erected a wooden site marker and assembled a collection of photos. All visitors enjoyed hearing a little about the significance of the site, and no less the hospitality extended.

It is likely that the remains of the building’s foundations, which lie buried may be excavated at some future date, possible under the aegis of the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership Scheme.