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1791 Trinity House obtained a patent to construct a lighthouse off Land's End; Lieutenant Henry Smith was given a lease for him to erect a lighthouse on the Longships; the rental was fixed at £100 for a term of 50 years.
A tower was soon established on Carn Bras, the largest of the Longships Rocks which rose 12m above high tides. The circular tower, designed by Trinity House architect Samuel Wyatt, had three storeys; the lowest contained water tanks and stores, the next formed a living room and the lightkeepers used as a bedroom the top storey under the wood and copper lantern. The lantern was elevated 24m above the sea, and held 18 parabolic metal reflectors and Argands, arranged in two tiers. None shone towards the land, as metal sheets blocked the windows in that direction.
1795 Soon after lighting the tower on 29th September, Smith was declared "incapable of managing the concern". Trinity House took it over and remitted the profits to his family through the Court of Chancery. The lighthouse was manned by four men, two of whom were on duty at any one time, working one month at a stretch.
1836 the Corporation bought out the lessees for £40,676 inclusive of life rents.
1875 Seas often swept over the rock during storms, obscuring the light, so Wyatt's tower was replaced by the current circular tower built in grey granite by Sir James Douglass, Trinity House engineer.
1988 Longships Lighthouse was automated and is now monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Operations and Planning Centre at Harwich.