Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 26, 2019
Webpage updated: February 25, 2019




Upon Plymouth Hoe there once stood a triangular obelisk, put there by Trinity House as a navigation marker for shipping in Plymouth Sound.

Its date of construction is not known but appears to be in the 1820s or 1830s.

The Trinity House Obelisk on Plymouth Hoe can be seen just to the right of the Look-Out Shelter          The Trinity House Obelisk on Plymouth Hoe.

The left-hand picture shows the Obelisk just to the right of the Camera Obscura.
It can be seen close-up in the right-hand photograph, painted white with a red stripe.
Both photographs are circa 1865 and are are reproduced courtesy of Mr Robert Hill, of Wokingham, Berkshire.

Early on the morning of Wednesday October 18th 1882 a group of workmen under the direction of Mr John Pethick, a local contractor, hollowed out a large cavity in one of the seaward angles until the structure was partially undermined.   Meanwhile, three charges of powder had been inserted in holes bored in the landward side of the masonry.

At 7am the watching crowd was pushed back and minutes later the fuses were ignited.  As the press recorded: 'At the first explosion the column shook, hesitated, and then fell a heap of ruined masonry along the sward; and the familiar mark was gone, but not regretted.'

Carts were employed during the remainder of the day to remove the rubble in time for the laying of the foundation stone for Smeaton's Tower, the former Eddystone Lighthouse, on Friday October 20th 1882.

A temporary wooden obelisk was erected directly in front of the old one to act as a seamark until Smeaton's Tower was completed.  The structure was held in place by six chains secured to the ground.

It will be noted in the second of the photographs above that the Obelisk appears to have been much nearer the roadway than Smeaton's Tower is today.