Skip to content

Smeaton’s Tower

smeaton's tower

Admire Striking Smeaton’s Tower on Plymouth Hoe

Standing proudly on the grassy expanse of Plymouth Hoe, Smeaton’s Tower is a striking historic lighthouse that provides fabulous views and insight into Plymouth’s maritime past. This iconic landmark makes a great family day out with its interactive exhibits, climbing opportunities and location in a prime spot to enjoy England’s historic second city.

Built in 1759 by celebrated engineer John Smeaton, the red and white lighthouse has been excellently preserved. Here’s everything you need to know for an illuminating day out at Smeaton’s Tower in Devon.

smeaton's tower plymouth

Getting There

Smeaton’s Tower occupies a prominent position on Plymouth Hoe, an expansive park overlooking Plymouth Sound. Well signposted, Plymouth Hoe is a short walk from Plymouth city centre. Look for the giant red and white lighthouse – you just can’t miss it!

Limited pay-and-display parking is available on the Hoe or use Plymouth’s plentiful city centre car parks. The tower is also walking distance from the train and coach stations.

Opening Times

Smeaton’s Tower is open seasonally between April and September:

Daily 10am – 5pm

Last admission at 4pm.

It’s closed over winter but open for special events.

Admission Prices

Entry prices are:

  • Adults – £5
  • Children (5-17) – £2.50
  • Under 5s – free
  • Family ticket – £12

This year, a new Heritage Pass is available, giving you discounted entry to Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, the historic Elizabethan House and the Mayflower Museum. The Pass is valid for seven days after purchase.

plymouth hoe

Climbing the Tower

Climb the 93 steps spiralling up Smeaton’s Tower for sweeping views across Plymouth Sound’s naval harbours, historic quaysides and over to Cornwall.

The tower’s lantern room up top provides a great view directly down onto the red and white stripes too. Display boards outline what you can spot from the panoramic views.

view from top of smeaton's tower

Interactive Displays

Back on ground level, interactive exhibits inside the tower bring its past alive. Learn how Smeaton’s Tower first stood 19 miles offshore on the treacherous Eddystone Reef:

  • See how the lighthouse components slot together.
  • Understand the challenges of building on a bare rock.
  • Discover the lamps and mirrors that magnified the warning light.
  • Hear how keepers navigated storms and isolation.
  • Find out why Smeaton’s ingenious dovetailed blocks have kept it standing for over 250 years.

The Lighthouse Grounds

Surrounding the tower, pathways wind through the rocky lighthouse garden. Kids will enjoy exploring here, playing hide and seek and finding:

  • Plymouth’s longitude line marker
  • A remnants display of items recovered from the original rock tower
  • Information panels on the previous Eddystone Lighthouses
  • Benches lining the pathways for scenic picnic spots
inside smeaton's tower

History of the Lighthouse

Designed and built by renowned civil engineer John Smeaton, it stands as a testament to engineering innovation. Completed in 1759, the tower was constructed on the treacherous Eddystone Reef to replace the previous wooden structure that had succumbed to the harsh sea conditions.

Smeaton’s design incorporated several groundbreaking engineering principles, including the use of interlocking stones and a conical shape to withstand the powerful waves of the English Channel. The lighthouse served its maritime purpose faithfully for 120 years before advancements in technology led to its decommissioning in 1877. Remarkably, rather than being dismantled, Smeaton’s Tower was carefully relocated to Plymouth Hoe in 1882, where it stands as a prominent landmark today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed in Smeaton’s Tower? – No, dogs are not allowed

Is it wheelcair accessible? – No, there are 93 steps in a confined space and no lift, so wheelchairs cannot access the top of the lighthouse unfortunately.

Is there a cafe in Smeaton’s Tower? – Not in the tower, but there are several cafes close by on the Hoe.

race for life smeaton's tower

Other attractions near Smeaton’s Tower

  • Plymouth Aquarium – family friendly aquarium housing over 40 exhibits showcasing local and exotic aquatic life. See sharks, rays, fish and more.
  • Tinside Lido – Iconic art deco outdoor swimming pool on Plymouth Hoe offering scenic swimming. Also has a cafe.
  • Royal William Yard – Grade I listed former Royal Navy victualling yard transformed into shops, restaurants and galleries.
  • Plymouth Gin Distillery – Tour the oldest working gin distillery in England and enjoy tutored tastings. Cocktail making classes too.
  • Saltram House – Elegant Georgian mansion with impressive interiors and gardens designed by Capability Brown. National Trust property.
  • Mount Edgcumbe House – Scenic country house with impressive grounds, gardens and orangery set across the River Plym from Plymouth.
  • Buckfast Abbey – Working Benedictine monastery with medieval church, monk’s herb garden and grounds. Shop sells homemade produce.
  • Plymouth Boat Trips – See the sights of Plymouth from the water including the breakwater, harbour, and Mount Edgcumbe.
  • Devonport Dockyard – Historically important Royal Navy dockyard. Home to the Submarine Museum, ships and historic boatyard buildings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *