I was recently rereading some of our old Coast magazines and saw that last year that the iconic and historic Lloyd’s Signal Station near the Cellars was for sale for £750,000. I was surprised we missed this the first time around and that we had not heard about this locally. It is a National Trust property on a long term lease.
It was converted into a five bedroom house in 1994 I guess by the National Trust when the 99 year lease was created. The views must be incredible especially from the open roof terrace which was used to communicate with ships. Surrounded by battlements it provides a 360 degree view of the stunning coastline, the sea and the Lizard countryside. I could not find out if it actually sold but we did see a new bench outside the station so perhaps it did.
Lizard Signal Station was built in 1872 by GC Fox and Company of Falmouth, a company of ship owners and agents. Ships in those days would have no means of communicating with their owners so the owners would not know where the ships were, if they were still in one piece and what cargo they were bringing home. With the opening of the Lizard Signal Station and using a recognised system of flag signals, ships could communicate that they were arriving home and what cargo they had and orders could then be communicated back to the ship. But it meant that it could only be done during the day with fine weather. Not always the case on the Lizard!
Once ships had signalled to the signalling station, the station would then communicate with the owners using the electric telegraph instantly once it was installed at the station. Prior to that for a short period messages had to be carried by horse to the nearest telegraph station at Helston. Not that instant! It was the Post Office who completed the extension of the electric telegraph and rooms were leased in the building by the Fox company to the Post Office who set up the telegraph office and were responsible for the sending and receiving overland messages. Information could now be received from the ships quickly and information and orders sent rapidly on to them.
Within five years the station was being used by over 1000 ships per month. Lloyds of London took over operation of the station in 1883 as they were setting up a number of signalling stations around the coast. It then became known as Lloyds Signal Station which was clearly written on the side of the building which is still there today. A great reminder of its important maritime role. The building was always white to maximise its viability from the sea. The three cottages at Bass Point near the station were on lease for the staff of the station and the station officer would live on the ground floor of the station.
During the war it was run by the Royal Navy but the staff continued to wear their Lloyds uniform which was very similar to a navy uniform except the brass buttons had the Lloyds crest on them. I guess this was probably very important to the staff. The station and staff played a very important role in the war. The returning convoys going up the channel to London or Southampton would communicate to the station by aldis (a signalling lamp using morse code) or if fog using the ships hooter. So it would be then knows which ships had been lost.
Lloyds operated it till 1951 after which the operation of signalling and reporting was conducted by the coastguards on behalf of Lloyds. Maritime signalling was discontinued in 1969 so the station ceased operating in December 1969 and the station was abandoned until 1994 when it was converted to a house. The Lloyd’s Signal Station is now listed in the National Monuments Record as a historic monument.
Sources: Lizard Lives and The Lizard in Landewednack A Village Story