Lighthouses: The Race to Illuminate the World
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- 26th September 2008
- 288 pages - 215 x 135 xmm
The Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, 1851: James Chance, of the glass-making firm Chance Brothers, is nervously showcasing a new lens, that, unknown to him, will revolutionise lighthouse production, propel his family business into a position of world leadership, save countless lives and have far-reaching consequences for trade, empire and the map of the world.This is where "Lighthouses" begins. The true-life story that follows is of one man and his family's unexpected role in an exciting race to perfect this technology, against European rivals and colleagues, as they strive to regain for Britain the leadership position she had lost to the French in the 1820s.This fascinating story places James Chance and the Chance Brothers firm against the backdrop of a time in which lighthouse manufacture was transformed from a craft into a scientific, high-precision industry. As a tool for globalisation, and with immense strategic and economic value, lighthouses helped to establish a network of communications that transformed the trade maps of countries and empires.
Toby Chance is James Chance's great-great-grandson and grandson of Sir Hugh Chance, the last Chairman of an independent Chance Brothers. Toby works in event management and communications and has spent the past three years researching the family history. Peter Williams is the author of the bestselling book Beacon on the Rock (2001). He has served at sea and was the founder of the lighthouse enthusiast magazine Leading Lights, which he continues to work with as consultant editor. Peter maintains a personal link with lighthouses as a Trinity House attendant for a Welsh lighthouse, which still uses a first order Chance lens, fitted in 1868.