St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay set for refurbishment after plans submitted

St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay
St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay -Credit:ChronicleLive

Plans have been submitted by North Tyneside Council for the refurbishment of St Mary’s lighthouse.

Whitley Bay’s coastal icon, alongside its visitor centre, birdhouse, sea and boundary walls is set for a facelift pending council approval. The plans involve cleaning down the lighthouse, and the surrounding infrastructure on the island, firstly using a pressure washer “taking care not to damage the surface”.

Mould treatments will also be scheduled alongside external repairs if appropriate. The lighthouse itself will also be given a coat of paint in signal white.

St Mary’s councillor Judith Wallace said: “I have been seeking these refurbishments for years and in 2023 the St Mary’s independent group got assurances from Mayor Redfearn that they would be done this year, so I am delighted it will happen.

“I hope long-lasting materials will be used so this iconic landmark can be restored and returned to its former glory. I would also like to see works done to the causeway because that is also in need of repair and something I will be asking for for a while.”

The repainting of the lighthouse had been included in the council’s 2024 budget last year. A council motion in July 2023, authored by Conservative St Mary’s councillor Ian McAlpine called for the council to commit to restoration works on the island.

The council’s Labour group maintained it has always intended to spruce up the lighthouse and the surrounding area and that it would work with community organisations, residents, and businesses to minimise any disruption to the island. If the works were commissioned last year without budgeting, Deputy Mayor Carl Johnson stated it would incur lending costs of £100,000 over the next 10 years.

The island has had a long history of assisting mariners. According to council documents, St Mary’s or ‘Bait’ island was occupied by a chapel dedicated to St Helen. It burnt a light in its sanctuary as a warning to sailors back in the medieval period.

The lighthouse was built and completed in 1898 and first lit on August 31 that year. It was later decommissioned in 1984 and later grade II listed in 2012.