Start Point Lighthouse, Devon, UK, source Wikipedia Commons, photo by Nilfanion
Gordon knew it was only a matter of time before his occupation and his way of life would be gone.
Trinity House, the governing body of lighthouses in the United Kingdom, had detailed to its lighthouse keepers the plans to automate the lighthouses. First on the list would be the rock stations – those remote stations that could only be serviced by boat or helicopter – due to their expense.
After sixteen years in the lighthouse service, Gordon Partridge became Senior Assistant Keeper at Start Point Lighthouse in Devon, U.K. when most of the offshore lighthouses had been turned over to automation. Start Point was a land station, more accessible to the public and closer to home for Gordon. However, it too, would become unmanned when the new technology was installed there.
For some lighthouse keepers, the intrusion of automation into their lives was feared and unwelcome. Many of the older lighthouse keepers wanted nothing to do with the technology that would replace them, so many took retirement.
Gordon’s attitude was different, though. The same attitude which carried him through years of lighthouse service continued as automation approached. Gordon saw the need to adapt to the change and to apply himself to the necessary training.
In his words, “I have always enjoyed any form of offered training, and in particular, relished the opportunity of learning, at least a little, of this new computer age.”
His positive attitude and enthusiasm toward the new training also resulted in making himself more valuable to the lighthouse service, therefore becoming an asset in the transfer of the lighthouses from keepers to computers.