15th March 1872

The States votes to build Corbière Lighthouse

The States of Jersey had been discussing the idea of building a lighthouse at Corbière for fifteen years before the project finally got the go-ahead. However, in a break from the norm, Jersey opted to fund and run the lighthouse itself rather than ask Trinity House, the UK’s lighthouse authority, to manage it on its behalf. All other lighthouses around the Channel Islands, outside of Jersey’s territorial jurisdiction, including Hanois and Casquets, are managed by Trinity House, which levied a royalty per ton of shipping that passed each one safely to pay for their upkeep.

It would seem that this royalty had played a part in the States’ decision. As reported by The Times four days later, “The States desired to have the sole control of the light, without the interference of the Board in any shape, and without any dues being levied for its maintenance on the island shipping”.

A dangerous approach

The reef of which the rocks are a part had long posed danger to shipping, with the Hampshire Advertiser writing of them “rendering the approach to the island at night a matter of extreme peril, the mail packets being frequently obliged to remain at Guernsey till next day in the winter season”. Such delays couldn’t help but impact Jersey’s ongoing trade. The lighthouse was thus something of an urgency.

Work on the lighthouse didn’t start right away, and by November questions were being asked in the States about the progress of the project. Members were told that plans had by then been drawn up and the lighthouse would be built “before winter”, which seems somewhat optimistic – and thus it proved. The light in the newly completed lighthouse was not lit for the first time for another 18 months.


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