Back to 1838
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constructed in 1826 at the instruction of Trinity House, the ocean
safety commissioners, as part of a campaign to make the Farne Islands
safer for sailors.
The rocks and strong
the Farnes have always been treacherous to ships and the first
lighthouses were built there in 1776, on Inner Farne and Staple Island.
The Staple light was replaced in 1796 by another on Brownsman Island
the area was still very hazardous. As a result the Longstone
light was built by Joseph Nelson at a cost of £4,771 and first
lit by keeper William Darling on 15 February 1826.
Grace Darling was
the daughter of
Longstone's first lighthouse keeper and lived there with her father. It
was while living on the isolated island that she earned national fame
for her courage in helping to save passengers of a wrecked steam ship.
The steamer Forfarshire
regularly between Hull and Dundee but, on the night of 7 September
1838, she was forced by strong northerly winds against the Harcar Rocks
off Longstone Island. Grace Darling's bedroom window looked out
across the rocks and it was from there that she spotted the stricken
vessel. She told her father William of the disaster and the two set off
in the lighthouse's tiny rowing boat to offer what help they could.
They saved the lives of nine people who had been left clinging to the
rocks after the ship foundered.
She was only 22 at
the time and
she quickly became a national heroine. But her life was to be a short
one. She died of tuberculosis only four years after her courageous
trip. She is buried at Bamburgh in sight of her famous deed.
Her memorial was paid for by public subscription, in recognition of her
heroism, and the first donation was made by Queen Victoria herself.