Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood envisioned the town as a bustling port, but was well aware of the treacherous sandbanks that enveloped the shore. He commissioned Captain H.M. Denham, a talented sea navigation expert, who advised him to erect lighthouses in the town.
Two of the three lighthouses still stand today, designed by Decimus Burton in a striking yet classical style - the Pharos (Upper) and Lower Lighthouse. The lighthouses would work concurrently and guide ships into the port as they safely steered down the passageway created by the double beam.
The Pharos (or Upper) Lighthouse is the tallest of Fleetwood’s lighthouses at nearly 30 metres, with a beam reach of 13 miles. Built from red sandstone, the Pharos Lighthouse stands proud in an unusual position within residential streets; its name is said to be based on the Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria in Egypt, which was destroyed in an earthquake in the 14th century. Whilst it is said that Decimus Burton himself referred to it as the Pharos Lighthouse, a local historian recently discovered an ancient illustration that suggested that it is in fact the Lower Lighthouse which was modelled on Pharos.
The Lower Lighthouse is situated on the sea front at the mouth of the River Wyre. The stunning 34ft Stourton Hill White stone Lighthouse beam reaches just less than 10 miles and rests as the Lower light when navigating ships. It is supported by stone pillars, and upon assent lucky visitors are met with a panoramic view of the town. The Lower Lighthouse is now closed to the public but often takes part in the annual Heritage Open Days festival in September.
The two lighthouses first shone in December 1840 as rocket was fired into the sky from the James Dennistoun steamer that had journeyed into the Wyre estuary with Sir Peter, Captain Denham and approximately eighty other people. The rocket indicated the opportune moment for the lighthouses to shine for the first time and guide the steamer back to the bay. The Preston Pilot reported that the establishment of the new lighthouses added new meaning to the proverb “as safe as Wyre”.