Holmes arc lamp from South Foreland Lighthouse, c 1860-1880.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The South Foreland Lighthouse off the Kent coast was the first to have an electric light in 1858. Frederic Hale Holmes was a British engineer, and pioneer of the electrical illumination of lighthouses in Great Britain. Early lighthouses had used wood and coal fires, pitch pots and candle lanterns to warn ships.