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Thursday June 13th, 2013

Fog signalling has been used for hundreds of years. Initially vessels used bells, gongs and whistles. Some lighthouses actually set of small cannons periodically to warn away ships.

During the mid 19th century the foghorn was developed first by Trinity House using a gun-cotton charge that had to be replaced every five minutes. Clockwork systems were also invented for striking bells.

Although Captain James William Newton claimed to be the inventor of fog signalling using loud and low notes the first automated steam powered foghorn was developed by Robert Foulis. The Scotsman, who emigrated to Canada said he heard his daughter playing the piano in the distance on a foggy night and noticed that the low notes were more audible than the high notes. The first of his foghorns was installed on Partridge Island in 1859.

Subsequent systems include the coal powered Daboll Trumpet, which was used until the mid 20th century and the Diaphone which utilised an organ stop device.
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