A requiem for the Souter light foghorn

The Souter lighthouse foghorn in action

The Guardian has this remarkable report this morning:

‘A requiem has been written to mark the passing from use of the last of the UK’s working foghorns, which for the last 150 years have warned shipping about dangerous shorelines and other hazards during foggy conditions. An armada of boats will be taking part in the performance, with their ships’ horns joining three brass bands on shore, plus the star of the event – the foghorn at Souter Lighthouse.

‘Artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway have teamed up with composer Orlando Gough to create The Foghorn Requiem, which will be given a single live performance on the North Sea coast on June 22 as part of the Festival of The North East.’

It sounds like a fun event off Sunderland. Read about the lighthouse here.

I gather all the foghorns are going, and I do worry that cutting long standing maritime safety measures in this way assumes every vessel is fitted with GPS, that it’s working, and that it’s being used – and I know that isn’t always true. Batteries run out, including in mobile phones, and chartplotters are expensive and difficult to power in very small vessels with no power system.

And then we have to ask – just how much is turning off this foghorn going to help the nation get out of debt?

And I must say I will miss the foghorns. I’ve always particularly enjoyed the North Foreland light’s slow,deep and tragi-comic cry of ‘Briiiiiaaaaaannnnnnn’.

What’s going to happen next? No more bells and horns on buoys? I don’t want my world any greyer than it has already become thankyou…

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