Can you solve mystery of when Souter Lighthouse changed colour?

Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn.
Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn.

Everyone loves a good mystery, and here’s one that reader Gillian Harrison would like you to help solve – by shining a light on the history of a local landmark.

It involves the Souter Lighthouse and specifically the colour of the rings that encircle it.

Souter Lighthouse.

Souter Lighthouse.

I’ll let Mrs Harrison explains the circumstances surrounding her quest for answers.

“It was my mother’s 74th birthday so we went down to Souter lighthouse,” she told me.

Along with Gillian and her man, Edith Sharpe, were Gillian’s cousin Julia Arkley and aunties (Mrs Sharpe’s sisters) Jeanne Chapman and Joyce Pringle.

Once there, they got talking ...

“My mam and my aunts said they could remember when the lighthouse had black and white stripes around it, and couldn’t remember when they were replaced with red and white stripes,” added Mrs Harrison.

“They said the stripes were definitely black and white when they moved there in 1953.”

The debate continued long after the birthday party left Marsden, prompting Mrs Harrison to take to social media to try to find an answer.

However, the question of the date of the transformation of the rings from black and white to red and white remained unresolved.

Suggestions were made and old photos produced, but to no avail.

“The photos were in black and white so you couldn’t tell.”

As part of the research, someone did unearth a cartoon of the lighthouse, printed in colour, and dated 1935, which showed the structure banded by black and white rings, but it did little to date the time of the colour transformation.

Even a further visit to the lighthouse itself failed to provide an answer.

As a result, Mrs Harrison is now turning to Time Of Our Lives readers for assistance.

“We’ve tried looking on local websites but there’s no mention of when the rings were repainted. It really is quite a mystery.”

The National Trust, which owns the decommissioned lighthouse, provides a potted history of the lighthouse but makes no mention of the change in colour.

What it does say is: “Built in 1871 to ward ships from the dangerous rocks at Whitburn Steel, Souter was the first lighthouse in the world purpose built to use electricity.

“Souter was a technological marvel in its day, but it was the development of new technology like GPS and satellite navigation which led to its decommission in 1988 after 117 years of service to shipping in the North East.”

So if you can help solve the mystery please drop me a line.

On a change of tack, it says something about the times that we live in, that a new ad campaign has been launched with the aim of urging parents to put their phones away and play with their children instead.

As we all know, in this hustle-and-bustle world we live in, when mams and dads are out at work all day, it’s not always easy to find a spare hour or so in the day for “family” enjoyment.

Perhaps it’s time not only to put away the phones, but also the other electronic devices that absorb so much of some people’s attention, and dig out those old board games, the ones that get all the family involved – like Cluedo, Monopoly or even snakes and ladders. Or how about a good old fashioned zigsaw puzzle?

Reader Michelle Lowdon took to Facebook to say: “My kids are eight, six and two, and haven’t got any iPads, computers or anything like that.

“I don’t have Wi Fi in my house even for me and my kids are happy to play out. It’s got to the point now where I am scared to get my phone out on the school run etc because of how much people moan about it on here, saying people are always on their phones don’t take notice of their kids etc.

“It’s ridiculous, each to their own really,”

Linda Chambers posted: “To be fair I think the kids are just as bad. I have seen toddlers in buggies playing on phone games and watching YouTube, yes I get that the parents would have given them in the first place, probably to keep them amused, but with today’s kids trying to keep up with each other with the latest technology, parents feel they have to buy them.

“Times change, kids are using computers at school at an early age, they’re not interested in playing Monopoly or Kerplunk.”

Michelle Havelock added: “I hate the way you see the children trying to get their parents attention and they just ignore them.”

What were the games you used to play when you were younger? Who remembers beetle drive?