New status shines light on landmark

St Mary's lighthouse.
St Mary's lighthouse.
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A coastal landmark on the borough coastline has been declared a listed building to help preserve it for future generations.

St Mary’s Lighthouse, a popular destination for sightseers and school trips, has been given grade II-listed status by English Heritage.

The 19th century tower and adjoining cottages host more than 80,000 visitors a year.

Officials at English Heritage decided to list the lighthouse, keeper’s and fishermen’s cottages because of their historic and architectural interest.

A spokesperson for English Heritage said: “The late 19th century lighthouse and associated cottages have been designated at grade II.

“The lighthouse is a striking landmark from sea and shore, and complete with keeper’s cottages, compares well to other listed light houses of a similar date.

It was designed by Thomas Matthews, engineer-in-chief to the Trinity House Board, which designed several lighthouses including the grade II-listed Pendeen lighthouse in Cornwall.

“By building this lighthouse, the sea became a safer place, and this in turn helped with the expansion of North Sea trade and securing the north east’s place as an industrial centre.”

The lighthouse, pictured, started working in 1898 before being taken out of service in 1984 by Trinity House.

It was then taken over by North Tyneside Council and developed as a tourist facility, with a visitor centre and museum being built.

Visitors are able to climb the 137 steps up the lighthouse to get spectacular views from the top.

Chris Bishop, the council’s heritage and museums manager, said: “We are very pleased that the lighthouse has been designated as grade II-listed.

“The building is an iconic landmark that is an instantly recognisable symbol of North Tyneside.

“Its new status means it is now acknowledged as nationally important, and we hope this will attract even more visitors than the 80,000 who visited the lighthouse last year.”