But the future of this unique collection is now uncertain as Trinity House, which operates the Centre in conjunction with Penwith District Council, is currently considering moving its exhibits to the Plymouth Dome, the newly opened interactive visitor attraction 60 miles (and on the wrong side of the Tamar for Kernowistas). Although this means the exhibits will form part of a centre boasting multimedia interactive displays, the proposed move will take the collection from a building that is redolent with lighthouse history and turn it into just one part of a much wider maritime-themed attraction.
Visitors to the centre are impressed both by the range of exhibits, which include revolving optics used in lighthouses and lightships, fog warning devices – even a replica of a watchkeeper’s station, and the attention to detail shown by the staff. Seeing the look of wonder on a small boy’s face when he was invited to turn a handle, while it was explained to him that he was actually rotating a one-and-a-half ton optic formerly used in a lighthouse that had kept ships safe for over 70 years, brings home the importance of the Centre and the need to preserve its unique collection for the future. The truth is that we can play interactive computer games anywhere, but the Lighthouse Centre shows how lighthouses and lightships have been developed over the centuries and presents its exhibits in an authentic setting.
Support the Lighthouse Centre, make your feelings known about its threatened closure by contacting Trinity House (www.trinityhouse.co.uk, tel 020 74816950 or e-mail their head PR honcho at firstname.lastname@example.org).