Herd Groyne

Herd Groyne lighthouse on the pier, South Shields.

Herd Groyne was built in the early 1880’s to stop the sand from the beaches in Tynemouth’s Harbour washing into and then depositing the Tyne. Effectively, the groyne is a small seawall seperating the beach from the river; therfore only one side of this wall is safe passage for shipping into the river.

The Lighthouse was built in 1882 and shows a series of lights indicating directions to be taken upon entering the port’s breakwater walls. This system of coloured lights replaced the 2 range or ‘high and low’ lights at South Shields that would have Shown safe passage by being aligned; these still exist in fantastic condition, with many original features.

If on-course, the light will show as White. If a vessel strays too far to the left the light upon entering the port, the light will show red and to the right side of the bay it will show green; this light is shown using a projector covered by shades of coloured plastic, although this would have originally been lit using a fresnel lens. The light gives a flash with the duration of 8 seconds and a period of darkness lasting for just 2 seconds: this matches the light character of the South Breakwater Lighthouse.

The tower painted red and is clad in corrugated metal and is on stilt-like legs called piles – these would have been screwed into the sandy base of the groyne to give the tower strength, instead of building upon traditional foundations. A staircase leads up to the service room, just below the lantern and a ladder on the inside of the tower then goes up to the light itself.

On the gallery there is a Fog bell which gives a stroke once every 10 seconds – it is sounded automatically in poor weather.