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Built upon St. Mary’s Isle (perhaps better known as Conister Rock) on the orders of Sir William Hillary, who helped to found the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, in 1832. After several shipwrecks upon the semi-submerged rock, he wanted a refuge for survivors until help could arrive.
Once built, the tower was stocked with provisions such as bread and fresh water and the means to make fire for any shipwrecked persons. The tower also originally housed a bell for summoning help.