The World Lighthouse Hub

Pharology is the study of lighthouses, so this site is dedicated to bringing you information about Lighthouses of the World.

The first, and probably most famous lighthouse was the Pharos of Alexandria. Shown below, it was a fabulous lighthouse built around 280 BCE in Alexandria, Egypt. One of the great engineering structures of all time, it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Click here to download the most comprehensive study of the Pharos in recent times.

What is the Oldest Lighthouse? Click here to find out.

The word 'pharology' is derived from pharos, the Greek word for lighthouse. Today, French people call a lighthouse un phare, Spanish people call it faro, and in Portuguese it is farol. In Romania and Bulgaria a lighthouse is called a far, whilst in Norway it is a fyr. However, like the English, Germans use a word that is more obviously descriptive, Leuchtürme, i.e. "light tower".

Ancient Lighthouses, Pharos, Alexandria

The above illustration is an impression of the Pharos of Alexandria by Alfonso Biescas. It was commissioned for use in the book entitled Ancient Lighthouses by Ken Trethewey.

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This is the only book of its kind to deal explicity with the matter of how lighthouses came into existence. Besides containing the most up-to-date description yet of the Pharos of Alexandria, it also contains a catalogue of ancient lighthouses.

Lighthouses were developed around the world to improve navigation and to help save lives at sea. As such they have come to represent a positive force for humanity. In recent times, lighthouses have become part of a more general activity - the provision of Aids to Navigation. This task has been normally undertaken through the establishment of national bodies under government direction. These bodies became known as the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs). In 1957, an organisation was formed in France for the international oversight of the entire range of activities that included the provision of aids to navigation. This entity was called IALA - AISM (originally, the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities.) Today, most of the maritime countries of the world are members of IALA-AISM.

The broad subject of Pharology is presented here in a number of extended articles. To assist the reader, each group of articles is prefixed with a letter code. The codes and group titles are:

The History of Lighthouses of the World
A: Lighthouses of Antiquity
AD: Lighthouses used in Advertisements
AS: Lighthouses of Asia
B: Books
BR: History of Lighthouses in the British Isles
E: Lighthouses of Empire
F: Fun
H: How Lighthouses Work
N: Navigation
P: People
R: Resources
V: Videos
W: What Is A Lighthouse?

Our 2020 Publication:

The Lighthouses of Cornwall and Devon - A Narrative.

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More Information

Pharologist Ken Trethewey took his first lighthouse photograph at the age of ten and over the past sixty years has compiled a wonderful portfolio recording the many changes that have occurred in lighthouse technology. In a period that has seen the end of the great tradition of lighthouse keepers and the introduction of automation, satellite navigation and LED lighting, there have been great pressures placed upon the guardians of our lighthouse heritage. Many lights have been taken out of service, or just closed to the public. Gone are the days when families enjoyed the atmosphere and the challenge of living and working in lighthouses, and when casual visitors would be welcomed inside to climb the tower and see the wonderful equipment installed there. The tall stories of lighthouse life are in danger of being lost.

This book captures a detailed snapshot of the world of lighthouses in 2020 as Ken, now 70 years old, completes a superbly detailed narrative of his lifetime of encounters with the lighthouses of the region where he was born and brought up.

Our 2022 Publication:

Light On The Forelands

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Our 2023 book is Plymouth Breakwater and its Lighthouse. This is a completely new history of the building of this remarkable engineering achievement and, for the first time, the full story and description of the lighthouse is present in gorgeous colour.

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New Research: The History of British Lighthouses Before 1700 is a part of the above publication - Light on the Forelands.

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Russian lighthouses in the Gulf of Finland

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