A Natural History of Lighthouses by John A Love

The new books describes the extraordinary range of wild birds, animals and creatures of the seas that live around those beacons of safety on our coasts: the lighthouses.

In Burnham of course there are or were three lighthouses. There's the famous one on the sands made from wood, while a second is a private home and a third was removed decades ago from by the church.

Because of its position near the mouth of the River Parrett, and the constantly shifting sands of the Bristol Channel, there has always been a significant risk to shipping in the area. As a result, several lighthouses, have been built.

Wikipedia notes: "The original lighthouse, known as the Round Tower, was built after the local vicar, either John Goulden in 1764 or Walter Harris in 1799, raised a subscription amongst the local population to replace the light on the top of St Andrews Church tower. The four-storey Round Tower was built next to the church. It was taken over and improved by Trinity House in 1815, and operated until 1832, following which the top two storeys were removed."

The second lighthouse known as High Lighthouse was designed by Joseph Nelson for Trinity House in 1830 and is off the main road to Berrow from Burnham surrounded by trees. The Grade II listed building sees garden birds flying around its 110ft height such as blackbirds, blue tits and robins.

A wide number of seabirds use the wooden lighthouse for a resting perch on the beach, while around its legs at high tide swim fish and even the occasion porpoise. At low tide the only creatures beneath are of course our four-legged friends: pet dogs.

John A Love's book is a beautifully illustrated volume that celebrates the people and the animals and birds associated with these lonely outposts of our shores.

Do you have memories of the past in the Burnham area which you would like to share with our readers? Email harry.mottram@nqsw.co.uk