BIDSTON LIGHTHOUSE EMERGES FROM DARK

A slice of Merseyside’s history has finally been sold after almost ten years on the market.
And fittingly, a top scientist has acquired the 200 year old former Lighthouse that forms part of the Bidston Observatory complex in Wirral.
The Daresbury-based boffin, who wishes to remain anonymous, intends to reside at the Lighthouse and cottage that have sweeping views as far as Snowdon and the Lake District.
It’s been almost a decade since oceanographers based at the Observatory moved to the University of Liverpool and agents were given the task of selling the main Victorian building, the Lighthouse and adjacent cottages as well as a more modern laboratory.
Despite hype that the landmark site is ideal for residential or hotel development, interest has been muted. One reason is the Grade ll listed status of the buildings, another is fierce opposition in the form of the Bidston Preservation Trust (BPT).
Newbury-based chartered surveyors Powis and Hughes successfully applied to change the Lighthouse cottage status from office to residential use. Another cottage on the site has been occupied by the same person since the 1930s.
The lighthouse was built in 1973, replacing a predecessor which dated from 1771. It has played a key role in the development of Liverpool as a mercantile centre, not only as a lighthouse, but also as a telegraph and signals station. It has three unique distinctions: it is further from the coastline it serves than other lighthouse in Britain; the development (by William Hutchinson) and first operational use of a parabolic reflector in a lighthouse; and Liverpool’s first female lighthouse keeper.
The four storey Proudman building and the Observatory comprises 45,000 sq ft of office and laboratory space.
Liverpool agents Mason Owen were engaged to remarket the buildings earlier this year
on behalf of owners the Natural Environment Research Council and said they offered a unique opportunity to buy a piece of local history. A spokesman said
there had been ‘expressions of interest’ but nothing more concrete.
The Observatory originally housed telescopes that tracked stars to ensure shup’s chronometers were accurate. Since then it has specialised in tidal research and was used to predict tides during the D Day landings.At on point it also operated the Thames Barrier.
Current research functions are now carried out at the university.
BPT chairman Peter Crawford has been trying to raise £2m to turn the site into a museum
but said: “It has been a struggle to get support. The council just doesn’t appear to have the vision or leadership to back a plan that would maintain the site’s heritage and
be a great tourist attraction.
“We even managed to get the National Lottery people up to Bidston but the property agents
wouldn’t let us in.”

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