Goonhilly Earth Station, the Lizard

Goonhilly Earth Station, the Lizard

Owned by BT until 2008, Goonhilly Earth Station was once the largest station of its kind in the world. One of three earth stations involved in the first trans-Atlantic TV transmission via the communications satellite Telstar in 1962, it played a major role in some of the most significant developments of its time.

Present at the birth of satellite services and the internet, as well as one of the main forces behind international space communications, it is hard to believe that a place so pivotal is located on our very own Lizard Peninsula.

Whilst it may be easy to feel a little removed from the ground-breaking work of Goonhilly, it played, and continues to play, a huge part in everyone’s lives. Once home to 25 working communication dishes and with an impressive 60 in total (many of which were named after Cornish legends), Goonhilly Earth Station was responsible for broadcasting some of the most important transmissions of the 20th century. From Muhammad Ali fights to the Olympic Games, and from the Apollo 11 Moon landing to 1985's Live Aid concert, millions of viewers watched history unfold.

Now owned by Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd under a 999-year lease from BT, it remains synonymous with British engineering and technology. Continuing to develop its commercial satellite communication services, private-sector deep-space communications and part of an (unfortunately unsuccessful) 2018 bid to become the UK’s first spaceport, the future is very much bright for Goonhilly. Only recently it received a major private capital investment programme and plans are underway to reopen the former visitor centre that closed in 2010.

Although the visitor facilities have now been closed for some time, you can easily get a good look at the Earth Station from the road and surrounding wildlife reserve, owned by the Cornish Wildlife Trust. Located on the wild and beautiful Goonhilly Downs, the area around Goonhilly is a Site of Special Scientific Interest made up of Cornish heathland and is criss-crossed with walkways and trails. 

Feeling inspired? Have a look at our luxury cottages on the Lizard Peninsula here.

Goonhilly Earth Station, Goonhilly Downs, Helston TR12 6LQ |


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