A couple’s Sunday afternoon visit to a disused lighthouse turned not an overnight stay when staff locked up and went home for the night, leaving them inside.
Grandparents Vera and Barry Singh visited the St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay at around 3pm on Sunday, February 6, and went to the top to take a few photos.
But when they came back down again just after 4pm they were shocked to discover staff and visitors had closed up and left for the day, locking them inside.
"When we came down everything was closed up and we were left in the lighthouse," Barry, 57, said.
"My wife was really panicking and saying, 'how are we going to get out?’”
The couple found a fire exit, and were able to get outside but by that time the tide was beginning to come in and they retreated back inside the lighthouse to stay warm.
"We managed to put some lights on and found a heater,” Barry told Chronicle Live, “but the alarms were going off so my wife suggested we ring the police to say that we had been left in the lighthouse."
The police offered to send a helicopter to rescue the stranded shopkeepers but Barry and Vera thought that would be a waste of a vital emergency flight and decided to wait until low tide instead.
At 10pm – after six hours of being stuck at the lighthouse – the pair were helped to safety by Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: "We logged this incident shortly before 7pm on Sunday, February 6.
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"Following that, we sent Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade to a report of two people cut off by the tide at St Mary's Lighthouse.
"The team assisted in walking the two people safely across the causeway, once the tide had gone out at around 10pm."
"We want to thank the police and Coastguard for their help and getting us safely back to shore," Vera said.
"Thanks also to the police for calling and checking up on us which helped us to stay calm.”
The honest pair even left a note and money at the lighthouse to pay for the snacks and hot drinks they had while they were stuck inside.
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A council spokesman said: “The volunteer life brigade alerted us to a couple who were stranded on the island.
"We have since spoken with the couple to offer our apologies for any distress this may have caused.
"We will investigate and we will take their recommendations onboard.
“St Mary’s Lighthouse is a hugely popular visitor attraction which draws 70,000 visitors each year and we have never had an incident like this before in the 35 years since the lighthouse was decommissioned and became a visitor centre.”
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