South Stack is set in a spectacular location to the north-west of Holyhead. The lighthouse acts as a waymark for coastal traffic and a landmark and orientation light for vessels crossing the Irish Sea to and from the ports of Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire.
History of the lighthouse
In 1645 when lighthouses were privately owned, King Charles II was petitioned for a patent to build a lighthouse on South Stack. The request was refused. However, 143 years after the original petition, Trinity House leased South Stack island and construction of the lighthouse commenced. On 9 February 1809, the station's oil lamps, designed by Daniel Alexander at a cost of £12,000, were first lit. In 1828 an iron suspension bridge was built to replace the rope catwalk that originally linked the lighthouse to the bottom of the 400 steps down the cliff face.
This was one of the many changes that have taken place at South Stack since 1809. The lights regularly became more efficient and in 1938 electric power replaced the oil that powered the lamps. In 1964 the iron bridge was taken down and a new one of aluminium was put up in its place.
The lighthouse was automated in 1984, and the keepers withdrawn. Today, the lighthouse is monitored and controlled by computer link from Trinity House Operations Centre in Harwich, Essex.
South Stack and nature