Notes on the text
These notes, by Peter Havholm, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Many Inventions, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.
St Catherine's Lighthouse is situated at Niton Undercliffe, 5 miles from Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, and comprises a white octagonal tower with 94 steps up to the lantern. The main light, visible for up to 30 nautical miles in clear weather, is the third most powerful light in the Trinity House Service, giving a guide to shipping in the Channel as well as vessels approaching the Solent.St. Cecilia was a Roman virgin and martyr of 176 A.D. who was patron saint of music. St. Catherine, a saint of the third century, was beheaded in 307 A.D. after other methods of putting her to death had failed—including that of being broken on the wheel (later named after her).
Intermediate between the lighthouse erected on the shore and that stately shaft built on an outlying rock, is the mongrel edifice known as the pile-lighthouse; . . . It is generally constructed of wood or iron . . . the habitable part of the building and the lantern resting on long spider-like legs. . . .As the legs support the structure over the sea, it would be easy to see through gaps in the planking directly down into the water; this would not, of course, be possible with the ordinary tower.
(Lights and Tides of the World, 1866).