An early image of the James Douglass lighthouse, with the stump of the Smeaton-designed building beside it.
Eddystone Lighthouse is located in the English Channel, 14 miles south of Plymouth, England. The reef upon which it stands was the source of many shipwrecks... and many lighthouses, the first of which was built in 1698. The first three lighthouses were wooden, and suffered the fate of sea storms. John Smeaton built the fourth lighthouse in 1759 of Cornish granite.
Using an oak tree as his model of strength and stability, he experimented with many engineering concepts to build the lighthouse - an effort that would later propel him to prominence as England's "Father of Civil Engineering." Of particular significance were the dovetailed joints in stone, using quick-drying cement that could withstand the salty seawater. These interlocking blocks served as the model for Minot's Ledge Lighthouse.
In the 1870s, the foundation eroded beyond repair and the structure became unsafe. The lighthouse that stands today was constructed in 1882 by Sir James Douglass, using the successful concepts of Smeaton's design.