The World Lighthouse Hub

Pharology - People - P01

P01: Lighthouse Administrators - General Lighthouse Authorities

The world's first organisation for the administration of lighthouses was the Trinity House of London, more accurately called the Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond. It was established under a Royal Charter granted by King Henry VIII in 1514.

By the twentieth century, administrative bodies for the co-ordination of lighthouses as aids to navigation had been set up on a mostly national basis. These organisations became known as General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs). The best known examples of GLAs are:

Trinity House (London): responsible for lighthouses in England, Wales, Channel Islands, and Gibraltar.

The Northern Lighthouse Board (Edinburgh): responsible for lighthouses in Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The Commisioners for Irish Lights (Dublin): responsible for lighthouses in Ireland. Note that this is a whole-island duty, and includes Northern Ireland, even though it is politically part of the United Kingdom.

Service des Phares et Balises (Paris): responsible for lighthouses in France.

The US Coastguard (Washington DC): responsible for lighthouses in the USA.

In 1957, national GLAs came together to form an International Oversight organisation called IALA-AISM, with a headquarters in France. In May 2013 there were 77 national members of IALA-AISM, a total that excluded Canada.

According to its website, the mission of IALA-AISM is as follows:

"Established in 1957, it enables marine aids to navigation authorities, manufacturers, consultants, and, scientific and training institutes from all parts of the world to exchange and compare their experiences, achievements, and technical and operational policies via participation in IALA Technical Committees. The Committees work to create IALA Recommendations and Guidelines which are recognised worldwide as the international standards for the implementation and operation of aids to navigation. These standards help to ensure that the movements of vessels are safe, expeditious, cost effective and harmless to the environment."

For the full story of the development of organisations for the development of lighthouses, please visit this link: The Development of Navigational Aids

Trinity House