Couple trapped inside lighthouse for 6 hours after staff locked up and left


Barry and Vera Singh were shocked when they finished their tour of St Mary’s Lighthouse to discover that staff had left and accidentally locked them inside

Vera and Barry Singh inside St Mary's Lighthouse
Vera and Barry Singh inside St Mary’s Lighthouse

A couple on a trip to a lighthouse ended up being rescued by an emergency crew after they were accidentally locked inside for six hours.

Grandparents Vera and Barry Singh had climbed to the top of St Mary’s Lighthouse to photograph the stunning scenery on February 6.

But when the couple, from Whickham, County Durham, came back down at around 4pm they were shocked to find that staff had closed up and left, locking them inside.

Barry, 57, told Chronicle Live: “When we came down everything was closed up and we were left in the lighthouse.

“My wife was really panicking and saying, ‘how are we going to get out?’

“Eventually, I found a fire exit and opened it and ran out to the front, but when we looked at the causeway the water was starting to come in quite high.

A photograph taken by Vera while she was stuck at St Mary’s Lighthouse

“Thankfully, I had left the fire exit door open and we were able to get back inside and get warm.

“We managed to put some lights on and found a heater, but the alarms were going off so my wife suggested we ring the police to say that we had been left in the lighthouse.”

The couple, who run their own shop B&V Stores, said police told them they could send a helicopter.

But the pair did not want to use a vital service and decided to wait for the tide to go down.

At 10pm, after six hours of being stuck at the lighthouse, the pair were helped to safety by Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade.

Vera, 55, said she had called a number she found online for the lighthouse three times at around 4.17pm without any answer before deciding to call police.

“It’s still unbelievable what happened,” she said.

The couple even left a note and money to pay for the snacks they had while stuck inside
(

Image:

Vera Singh)

“We still can’t believe it. We are safe and well but it could have been a different story if we hadn’t been able to get back inside.

“It could have been a very panicky situation for children, anybody elderly, or anybody who has panic attacks.

“When I went outside it was dark, all I could hear was the wind and the water was right up.”

The honest pair even left a note and money at the lighthouse to pay for the snacks and hot drinks they had while they were stuck inside.

Vera said she has informed North Tyneside Council about the incident and recommended that a phone be installed inside and outside of the building in case of emergencies.

“We want to thank the police and Coastguard for their help and getting us safely back to shore,” she added.

“Thanks also to the police for calling and checking up on us which helped us to stay calm.”

Northumbria Police confirmed they received a call from the couple and said they “gave suitable advice to them and also contacted the Coastguard on their behalf.”

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: “We logged this incident shortly before 7pm on Sunday, February 6.

“Following that, we sent Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade to a report of two people cut off by the tide at St Mary’s Lighthouse.

“The team assisted in walking the two people safely across the causeway, once the tide had gone out at around 10pm.”

Vera recommended that a phone be installed at the lighthouse in case of emergencies
(

Image:

Vera Singh)

North Tyneside Council confirmed that it would be carrying out an investigation into the incident and said it was the first time anything like this had happened at St Mary’s Lighthouse in its 35 years as a visitor attraction.

A council spokesperson said: “The volunteer life brigade alerted us to a couple who were stranded on the island.

“We have since spoken with the couple to offer our apologies for any distress this may have caused.

“We will investigate and we will take their recommendations on board.

“St Mary’s Lighthouse is a hugely popular visitor attraction which draws 70,000 visitors each year and we have never had an incident like this before in the 35 years since the lighthouse was decommissioned and became a visitor centre.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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