At 425m, the Worcestershire Beacon is the highest point of the Malvern Hills and also the highest point in Herefordshire or Worcestershire.
The name Beacon indicated that this hill was used to light fires to pass urgent warnings. Before the time of telephones, if an urgent message was needed to be sent - for example the approach of enemy troops - a fire would be lit at the top of the tallest hill in the area. The fire could be seen for many miles around and the people who saw it would, in turn, light a fire on their nearest tall hill. In this way a message of approaching danger could be passed across the country in a day or two. The Worcestershire Beacon was used for this purpose.
During the World War II the Beacon was used to look out for fires as far away as Birmingham and Coventry.
At the top of the Beacon is a toposcope, an engraved brass disc of 25 inches diameter, which identifies all the points of interest which are visible on a clear day. This was designed by Arthur Tryote Griffith, a local architect and friend of Edward Elgar, and installed as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897. Arthur is said to be the inspiration for Variation No. 7 of the Enigma Variations. In February 2000 the toposcope was levered off its plinth and stolen. The Malvern Hills Trust had two replica toposcopes made, one of which was installed on the plinth at on the Beacon. However, in December 2001, police in Walsall conducted a raid after a tip-off and recovered the original toposcope. This toposcope is now kept in a safe place and the replica remains on the Beacon.
The views from the top of the Beacon are, as you can imagine, magnificent.
A short distance from the toposcope and commemorative plinth is a less photogenic triangulation station concrete pillar, or trig point as it is known. Trig points were set up by Ordnance Survey from 1935 to help accurately map the UK. Once all the trig points were erected, two other trip points could be seen from each one. The hole in the top is to mount the theodolite which would take accurate measurements of angles to the other trig points in line of site.
For many years there was a cafe at the top of the Beacon but in 1989 it burnt down. The Malvern Hills Trust planned to replace the cafe but had to apply to Parliament to do this because the Malvern Hills Act prevents building on the Hills. The application was overturned by the House of Lords and so now a cafe is expressly forbidden to be built on top of the Beacon.