To our left, from the small jetty, we could see the lighthouse on the small headland. While we waited another boat arrived carrying our guide for the island.
We learnt that the lighthouse was no longer needed after the road bridge had been completed. The bridge’s two support towers acted as perfect markers for the channel.
The island has had a long and varied history before it came to the local charity. The charity has restored the buildings and now manages access to the island.
Before the charity took over there took over the island, the lighthouse was being vandalised by party goers arriving on the island for BBQs and over night parties.
The first building we went to see were the barracks used in WWII by service men who filled torpedoes with explosives made elsewhere in Newport. The majority of all US Navy torpedoes used in the war were made in Newport and processed on the island.
It was said that there was enough explosive on the island back then that if it exploded the island would vanish and windows for 10 miles along the coast would be shattered. The rooms of the barracks were designed to contain blasts. They were being converted one into bedrooms for visitors.
The bricks of the buildings were made from a special clay only found in Newport. The rooms were designed so that any explosion would have been hopefully contained.
At the side of the barracks there was a small hut that contained the island’s toilets and another hut that was a small gift shop and at the side a bunker. As we walked around we watched butterflies and even small snake in the grass (we were assured that these were safe.)
We could see other walls and buildings that remained from earlier times when the island had had been fortified in the time of the War of Independence. Our guide told us about some of the buildings back in the city and how their heritage could be traced back to the early Freemasons who had come to Newport.
At the lighthouse we met the extended family who had hired it to stay in for a long weekend. They were not bothered about the lack of electricity or water and had hired it many times before. I was invited in to see the rooms inside before venturing up the lighthouse to the balcony around the light.
I climbed the stairs to a small room at the top of the tower. In there there was a ladder that went up to the platform around the light itself. At the top was a trap door that made the final part of the climb even more precarious. I had to take my camera bag and push it up first so that I could squeeze through the gap. This took me into the small room that contained the light itself. Underneath the glass windows was a small hatch that gave access to the balcony around of the lighthouse.
We were now disturbing the rest of the lodgers who was sitting on the balcony enjoying a drink and reading books. They told us how relaxing a stay on the island was. I was impressed at their glasses of red wine up there that had been carried up the ladder to the platform!
The views around the balcony where impressive and I spent quite some time just looking out across to Newport.
Getting back down was not easy especially after I worked out that the top step was about half the width. Once I was on the wide steps and I could hold on and reach up for my camera bag. I was pleased to be back in the small room below safely.
I went to the toilet block. Once inside I moved to the sea shells, as requested, to count the number of times they had been used. From the count I didn’t have to pump the water for a flush!
The gift shop was nearby and I had a look at all the postcards there. Back at the barracks I tried to get the shot of the board game by the window that I had seen on a postcard in the gift shop.
Past the gift shop was a path that lead away from the lighthouse and I followed it to try and get some more views of the island. This took me closer to the road bridge. As I wasn’t sure of the time left on the island, I turned back towards the lighthouse rather than follow the path around the island.
On the beach and the rocks below the Lighthouse.
On the beach I found lots of plastic debris mixed up with the seaweed. So for the next 10 minutes or so I walked along the shoreline filling a plastic pot that with even more plastic. Just then another boat arrived and a group walked up the jetty pulling their suitcases. This was the signal for our excursion group to gather at the jetty ready to leave the island.