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Rob Bell returns to Channel 5 to look at more heroic feats of engineering


Rob Bell returns to Channel 5 to look at more heroic feats of engineering

In the second series of Building the Impossible Rob looks at Wolf Rock Lighthouse in the first episode.

In a new three-part journey through Britain’s beautiful but treacherous coastline, presenter Rob Bell uncovers the secrets of one of Britain’s most heroic feats of engineering – the rock lighthouse. From the awesome might of the North Atlantic to the tempestuous moods of the North Sea, Rob heads offshore in the wake of those who battled seemingly impossible odds to not only build, but to actually live and work in some of the most inhospitable environments on earth. Each episode is led by an iconic lighthouse that reveals tales of catastrophic shipwrecks, dramatic rescues and incredible feats of endurance and survival.  

This week, Rob Bell heads out to the most feared lighthouse for keepers and mariners alike – Wolf Rock. Eight miles off the beautiful Cornish coastline, Rob sees for himself why it was such a herculean struggle to build a stone tower here 160 years ago. The rock is fully exposed to the awesome power of the North Atlantic.

Channel 5 hear why Wolf Rock was also the lighthouse keeper’s most dreaded tour of duty, with tales of its fearsome reputation from the brave men who used to live and work there. Rob demonstrates why simply getting on and off the rock – with nothing more than a knotted rope between them and the Atlantic – would see keepers resign on the spot.

At Cornwall’s 21st century lighthouse keepers’ base, Rob delves into the myriad stores of equipment and cutting-edge technology that are needed to keep a 160-year-old lighthouse running. And he sees how access to the Wolf Rock is arguably more hair-raising than ever – landing a helicopter on top.

A Cornish adventure wouldn’t be complete without a treasure hunt. Rob turns historical detective by joining diver and wreck hunter Ben Dunstan to identify a ship that was lost 150 years ago. Rob is amazed to see beautifully preserved artefacts from the wreck that bring its last voyage to life. 

To find out how tricky it is to avoid becoming one of Cornwall’s estimated 6,000 shipwrecks, Rob takes the wheel of a 93,000-tonne container ship in Plymouth University’s stunningly realistic ship simulator. He finds out how to navigate using lighthouses when systems go down.

Finally, to see why the Wolf Rock itself posed such a sinister threat out in open sea, Rob reveals its dramatic birth in the heart of a volcano, at a time when dinosaurs still roamed Cornwall.

Lighthouses: Building the Impossible, Channel 5, Friday (April 29th), 9 pm

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