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If you have passed along the Bridgewater Canal at Monton you cannot fail to have seen the Monton Lighthouse, not only a local landmark but a marvellously eccentric piece of architecture, a lighthouse thirty-six miles inland!

The owner is "Barnacle" Phil Austin, the man who built the lighthouse and the owner of the magnificent gentleman's sailor boat, the Victoria R. 

Over the next few weeks we will be talking to Phil, who will tell us about the construction of the lighthouse (or is it a four story storage unit?) 

We shall look inside the building and hear the fascinating tales about how it came to be built, the circular furniture from the BBC, the spiral staircase from a disused church in Birmingham and much more. 

The Victoria R, which dates from 1891 is unique in that it has an electric engine, instead of the usual diesel engine, which makes it much more eco friendly. 

Phil tracked the boat down from its original moorings on the Thames in London to Beverley in Yorkshire, he has lovingly restored it and soon it will be available for hire for pleasure trips along the Bridgewater Canal and possibly to hire for wedding parties to sail to Worsley Court House in some considerable style. 

Phil also gives talks to various societies about his lighthouse and his boat, so we are in for a treat as he gives us the full amazing story of how it all came to fruition. 

Would you believe it all started after a conversation he had with a drunken man in Lymm? 

This article first appeared on SalfordOnline on the 16th of April 2010, it is reproduced here with the blessings of Salford's other famous flasher, Tony Flynn.

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