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Smalls Lighthouse (Whiteside Tower)
approx. 20 miles west of Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire
associated engineer
Henry Whiteside
date  1775 - 1st September 1776
era  Georgian  |  category  Lighthouse  |  reference  SM465087
Plans for a lighthouse on the Smalls Rock were initiated by John Phillips, an assistant dock manager at Liverpool and agent for the Skerries Lighthouse. He advertised for a tower design and chose one by Whiteside, a musical instrument maker from Liverpool.
Henry Whiteside began life as an assistant cooper but switched careers in 1770. In 1772 he had designed a model for the Skerries tower (it's not known what became of this scheme). Given this connection with Phillips, it's likely he had a head start with Smalls.
The design consisted of an octagonal timber tower, 20m high, with a diameter of 5m. The keepers' living accommodation was at the top, just below the lantern.
A group of Welsh miners was employed to dig the foundations and do much of the other work. Initial progress was slow because of the bad weather in the winter of 1775. Smalls Rock is remote and exposed.
While the postholes were dug at the rock, the tower was built on the mainland. It was placed on site in the summer of 1776.
Whiteside's tower did not stand up well to the weather and had to be abandoned by its keepers in January 1777. Phillips obtained a 99 year lease by act of parliament after fund-raising among Liverpool merchants and Trinity House. The tower was reinforced and relit in September 1778.
The lighthouse remained in operation with few interruptions until 1861, when it was replaced with James Walker's stone tower. However, it suffered considerable damage in 1812 and 1832 and had to be strengthened a number of times.
Trinity House, the lighthouse authority for England and Wales, bought the lease in 1832 for 170,468.
Research: PS
"The Lighthouses of Trinity House"
Richard Woodman + Jane Wilson
Bradford on Avon, Thomas Reed Publications, 2002
"Lighthouses: Their Architecture, History and Archaeology"
Douglas B. Hague + Rosemary Christie
Llandysul: Gomer press, 1975

Smalls Lighthouse (Whiteside Tower)