R I Barrow, 18th Century
Perch Rock Fort and New Brighton Lighthouse the Wirral, Merseyside, Liverpool
Perch Rock Fort and New Brighton Lighthouse

signed " I R Barrow"

pencil and watercolour
42.16 x 66.04 cm. (16.3/4 x 26 in.)


Fort Perch Rock is a coastal defence battery built between 1825 and 1829. It was built to protect the Port of Liverpool and as a fortified lighthouse to replace the old Perch Rock Light. It was originally built on an area known as Black Rock and was cut off at high tide, but now coastal reclamation has made it fully accessible. It is currently open as a museum. The Fort covers an area of about 4,000 square yards, with enough space for 100 men. It was built with red sandstone from the Runcorn quarries. The height of the walls ranges from 24 feet (7.3 m) to 32 feet (9.8 m), and the towers are 40 feet (12 m) high. The Fort originally had a drawbridge, and a Tuscan portal which bore the coat of arms and the words 'Fort Perch Rock'. At one point it was armed with 18 guns, of which 16 were 32-pounders, mounted on platforms. It was nicknamed the 'Little Gibraltar of the Mersey'. The foundation stone reads: This foundation stone of the Rock Perch Battery, projected by and under the direction of John Sikes Kitson, Esquire, Captain in the Royal Engineers, for the defence of the port was laid on 31st March 1826 by Peter Bourne, Esquire, Mayor of Liverpool in the 7th year of the reign of His Majesty George IV. His Grace, the Duke of Wellington , Master General of the Ordnance.The projected cost of the build was £27,583.0s.8d. Kitson ensured that this budget was not exceeded, finishing the fort for a total cost of £26,965.0s.8d. Perch Rock, New Brighton Lighthouse, sits next to the fort, it was originally, a wooden "Perch", hence its name. A large post held a light on top and was supported by a sort of tripod. It was erected on the Black Rock in 1683 by the Liverpool Corporation.When foreign ships, passed the old perch, they were charged sixpence for its respect and to keep it in repair. But it was often washed away and a boat had to be launched to recover it from Bootle Bay. In February 1821, the pilot boat "Liver" crashed into the perch and carried it away. It has been said that it was washed away in March 1824 and not recovered until the December.However the cost of replacing it all the time grew too expensive and it was decided to build a new one. The foundation stone of the new lighthouse was laid on 8th June 1827 by Thomas Littledale, Mayor of Liverpool. It was designed on the lines of Eddystone by Mr. Foster and built of marble rock from Anglesey by Tomkinson & Company. It rises 90 feet above the rocks and is considered to be a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The granite cost 1/6d a cubic foot.Each piece of stone is interlocked into the next. The whole stonework, when finished , was coated with what is known as "Puzzellani" a volcanic substance from Mount Etna which, with age, becomes rock hard. The first 45 feet is solid. A spiral staircase leads to where the keeper lived and then on to the lantern house. The revolving light was said to be the first in the country. It cost £27,500 to construct.Work was only possible at low tide and it was not completed until 1830. Its first light shone on the 1st March of that yea and consisted of two white flashes, followed by one red, with a range of 14 miles. The light was 77 feet above the half-tide level. It was eventually electrically connected to the mainland.The Lighthouse last shone its light on 1st October 1973 as it was no longer needed on account of the radar system operating in the River.