Souter Lighthouse is a lighthouse located in the village of Marsden in South Shields, Tyne & Wear, England. Souter was the first lighthouse in the world to be actually designed and built specifically to use alternating electric current, the most advanced lighthouse technology of its day.
The lighthouse was a much-needed aid to navigation due to the number of wrecks on the dangerous reefs of Whitburn Steel which lay directly under the water in the surrounding area. In one year alone – 1860 – there were 20 shipwrecks. This contributed to making this coastline the most dangerous in the country, with an average of around 44 shipwrecks per every mile of coastline.
The lighthouse is located on Lizard Point, but takes its name from Souter Point, which is located a mile to the south. This was the intended site for the lighthouse, but it was felt that Lizard Point offered better visibility, as the cliffs there are higher, so the lighthouse was built there instead. The Souter Lighthouse name was retained in order to avoid confusion with the then recently-built Lizard Lighthouse in Cornwall.
Souter Lighthouse is approximately three miles south of the mouth of the River Tyne. Some four miles or so to the north of the mouth of the Tyne is a sister Victorian lighthouse, St Mary’s Lighthouse, on St Mary’s Island. This has now been decommissioned, but is open to visitors. St Mary’s Lighthouse can be seen with the naked eye from the top of Souter Lighthouse.