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This review is from: The Lighthouses of Trinity House (Hardcover)
At first glance it looks like the average coffee table book (large format, some whole page photographs etc.) and I was prepared to be disappointed. HOWEVER, once you get past the cover and Foreword you are in for a treat as this must be one of the most comprehensive modern books on the subject of UK lighthouses.
Chapters include: The History of Trinity House, Lighthouse Construction and Equipment, The Lighthouse Keepers, The Lighthouses. There is also a postscript a bibliography and a very good index.
The quality of reproduction of the photographs, engineering drawings and paintings is superb with not a single out of focus or irrelevant view. There are many engineering drawings in the volume which have not been printed elsewhere.
The text is detailed enough to give you a thorough understanding of all aspects of lighthouses without getting overly technical. For those who want more depth there is a useful bibliography at the rear of the book.
The real star of this volume is the chapter on The Lighthouse Keepers. So many volumes on lighthouses are just dry accounts of each lighthouse and its construction history and I always wanted to know more about the people who operated and maintained them and their families. After an introduction to their role the lighthouse keepers then get to speak for themselves on all aspects of lighthouse keeping via a series of individual portraits based on interviews. This is an excellent chapter.
Just over half of the book is then taken up with a more traditional UK coastal tour of the lighthouses. It is comprehensive and has excellent photographs, but the text is short and a number of the photographs have not been captioned at all which really leaves you gasping for a bit more information.
If I had one gripe it is that we do not really get to meet the lighthouse keepers families to see the story from their point of view. Also there is very little information on the development and use of the coastguard/lighthouse keepers cottages which often form a substantial part of onshore lighthouse installations. A bit more social history would have gone a long way.
Don't let that minor gripe dissuade you from getting this excellent volume though. It is probably the best single modern volume you could get on UK lighthouses and deserves to be on the shelf of everyone who loves the sea and lighthouses.