Written by pharologist Ken Trethewey and genealogist Clifford Trethewey, each with a lifetime's expertise in their specialization, the book celebrates lighthouses and their keepers in over 400 full colour pages of a quality hardback edition larger than A4.
The white cliffs of Dover are extremely well known to travellers crossing and passing through the English Channel, but the lighthouses that serve shipping in this, the worlds busiest seaway, are rather less famous yet have amazing stories to tell. Whilst guarding against tragedy on the Goodwin Sands, the North and South Forelands have played important roles in the history of technology as well as providing vital navigational aids. This unique collaboration between brothers, Ken and Cliff Trethewey, presents not only the detailed history of the lighthouses but also embraces the remarkable personal stories of the many families who lived and worked there, in particular, the Knotts, one of the most significant families of keepers in history.
Too often books have been written about lighthouses and not paid due regard to those who kept them working so reliably and efficiently. We might forgive those authors for simply not having sufficient information to build a good story. That is not the case in this book.
Ken and Cliff Trethewey were fortunate to belong to a family with the longest serving record in the history of light keeping. From around 1730 to 1911 the Knott family kept lights shining for the safety of mariners at some of the best known lighthouses in England and Wales. Finally, after researching for most of their lives, the authors have brought together their joint expertise to write this book that celebrates not just our wonderful heritage of lighthouses, but also the lives of the men and women who made them work. This book will become an important part of British sociological history.
Ken Trethewey is a retired marine engineer specializing in materials in engineering systems. Based in Cornwall UK, he has written books about corrosion engineering, lighthouses and jazz. When he is not pursuing his interest of pharology, he now operates his own publishing business, Jazz-Fusion Books. Ken first became interested in lighthouses at the age of 16 when he discovered that he was descended from a long line of lighthouse keepers – the Knott family of South Foreland. In 1992 he co-founded the Lighthouse Society of Great Britain and in 1994 started one of the first websites devoted to pharology that continues today. From 1998 to 2005 he published eight annual editions of the Lighthouse Encyclopaedia on CD-ROM which contained information on 13,000 lighthouses. In 2002 he was a co-founder of the World Lighthouse Society and the same year he published a book entitled North Atlantic Lighthouses with the top French photographer Jean Guichard. Besides English, the book was translated into French and German. Ken’s latest project is a series of books on Pharology. The first was called Ancient Lighthouses and was published in 2018.
At sixteen years of age, Clifford Trethewey was a reluctant electrical fitter apprentice for the Admiralty’s Royal Navy Dockyard at Devonport, but it taught him how to repair machinery and built upon his boyhood passion for model making. At school Cliff was always an ‘arts man’ drawn to the skills of penmanship demonstrated in the occasional prize for handwriting and English essays. In his 20s he became fascinated by social history and the journals written by ordinary people. Like them, Cliff has always felt driven to write and this eventually found an outlet in the family stories he heard told over and over again as he decided to use a genealogical approach to validate their accuracy and embellish their context. In the late 1970s, this decision came at the right time as archives began to open their doors to the public and technology arrived in the form of a home computer. Cliff now had the tools he needed to create a story and after 40 years of experience that skill has been brought to this book. Lighthouses are a fascinating subject, but in so many books the lightkeeper remains unnamed. Cliff has sought to change it by using our own family history in an attempt to create a basic social history of those who gave up their nights to keep the lamps burning for the benefit of others at sea.
Clifford has also written other detailed family histories that can be found here.