We are in the village of Marsden in South Shields, Tyne&Wear, in Northern England.
The story of Souter Lighthouse began in 1871, when it was constructed on Lizard Point. The visibility from Lizard Point was very good, as its cliffs are higher than those at nearby Souter Point, but the lighthouse was named after Souter so it wouldn’t be confused with the already existing Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall.
Interestingly, Souter was the first lighthouse in the world to be actually designed and built specifically to use alternating electric current, the most advanced lighthouse technology of its day. First lit in the 1870s, it was described at the time as “without doubt one of the most powerful lights in the world”.
The lighthouse was a much-needed aid to navigation due to the number of wrecks on the dangerous reefs of Whitburn Steel which lay directly under the water in the surrounding area. Only in 1860 there were 20 shipwrecks and this contributed to making this coastline the most dangerous in the country.
In 1914 the pioneering electric light at Souter was replaced with more conventional oil lamps and, years later, in 1952 the lighthouse was again converted to run on electric power.
Souter Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1988, but continued to serve as a radio navigation beacon up until 1999 when it was finally closed.
Never automated, today it is owned by the National Trust and open to the public.
Today it is also now known as one of the most haunted lighthouses in the UK.
According to the legend, the niece of the famed Grace Darling, Isobella Darling, makes ghostly rounds here. Grace is well known for her heroic efforts to save crew members from the sinking ship SS Forfarshire during a storm in 1838, and earned her reputation as the country’s most celebrated maritime heroine.
However, It is not clear why Isobella haunts the lighthouse.
Census records do prove that she lived there in 1881.Lighthouse staff have reported spoons floating in midair, unexplained temperature drops, and even physical interaction with some staff members, who say they were pulled or grabbed by an unseen hand. Some visitors have even heard their names called by a female voice, while others have heard crying and seen the apparition of a young girl assumed to be Isobella.
However, she isn’t the only ghost said to haunt the Souter Lighthouse, either. Another story tells of a lighthouse waitress who was walking down the kitchen corridor one evening when she stopped dead in her tracks. Standing at the end of the passage, there was a man wearing a lighthouse keeper uniform. He disappeared before her eyes, leaving only the faint scent of tobacco in the air….
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