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Monday 8 June 2015

Alexander Burgon, Lighthouse Keeper, Berwick-Upon-Tweed and his Courageous Daughter, Robina

Alexander Burgon with his grandson, also Alexander
From Robina Burgon about her grandmother, Robina Burgon:
She manned the lighthouse at  in the 1920s while her father, the lighthouse keeper, was dying of cancer. She was the only woman to man the lighthouse and the last person to man it before it went automatic.

From the Berwick Advertiser:
Death of former Berwick lighthouse keeper
The death has taken place at his home in Woolmarket, Berwick, of Mr Alexander
Burgon who for a number of years acted as lighthouse keeper.
Mr Burgon's death followed an illness of several weeks duration and took place early on Wednesday morning (14th May 1930).
At an early age, Mr Burgon answered the call of the sea and as a young man,
along with his brothers followed the herring fishing at Ireland and the West
Coast of Scotland. It was following a long career at sea that Mr Burgon took
over the duties of the lighthouse keeper  about nine years ago. During that
period he had often to battle with nature's elements to gain the lighthouse
and there put into operation the light that has warned others to give wide
berth. Not only in this capacity did he render yeoman service to his fellow
seamen, as for a long period of years he was a member of Berwick Lifeboat
crew and here as in everything with which he was connected he was always
ready to answer duty's call.

Mr. Burgon had rather a serious breakdown in health in 1927 during which
period his daughter, Miss R Burgon (Robina Graham Law Burgon), took
over the duties of lighthouse keeper. Miss Burgon possessed the
characteristic courageousness of the family, and throughout long dreary
winter nights she kept lonely vigil. Neither the pounding of the huge
breakers against the lighthouse nor the eerie sound which often 'whistles'
around such places, disturbed her. So interesting did Miss Burgon find the
duties that when her father had a further breakdown in health last year, she
again took charge of the lighthouse. In recognition of her services Miss
Burgon received a letter of congratulation, together with a slight
acknowledgement, from Berwick Harbour Commissioners.

Of a cheery disposition, Mr Burgon was a kenspeckle figure in the town and
was always ready to narrate any of his experiences of which he had vivid
recollection. One of is brothers, Mr Robert Burgon who was coxswain of
Berwick Lifeboat was drowned in March 1927 on Berwick bar when the yawl
'Lerwick' was swamped.

Mr Burgon is survived by his wife, Isabella (maiden surname Buglas), two sons, and four daughters. The funeral takes place on Sunday.
Isabella Burgon, daughter, Robina and Thomas Emond Tait

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