10. Henry Winstanley built an ‘impossible’ lighthouse and stayed in it when the biggest storm in history hit the English shore
When Englishman Henry Winstanley lost a second ship on the Eddystone rocks, a dangerous outcrop located at the very southern tip of Britain, he decided something needed to be done. Prior to becoming an international merchant and shipowner, Winstanley was an engineer. And so he put his training to good use by designing a lighthouse. While many warned him that the rocks were too inaccessible and that any attempts to build on them would be deadly, he went ahead with his plans. Work on the first Eddystone Lighthouse began in July of 1696 and the project was finished three years later.
At first, it looked like the lighthouse would work. However, Winstanley soon realized that, in a heavy storm, the waves and sea spray would rise so high off the rocks that they would obscure the light. He decided his lighthouse needed to be rebuilt, and this time made even bigger. The larger lighthouse proved even more successful. In fact, for the next five years, not a single ship was lost on the Eddystone rocks. So confident was Winstanley in his construction that he declared his wish to be inside his lighthouse when “the greatest storm there ever was” hit England. In 1703, the so-called Great Storm hit. The lighthouse was destroyed completely, with Winstanley and five other men inside. All were lost to sea, their bodies never recovered.