Arnish Point Lighthouse

  • Established: 1852
  • Height: 21 metres (68.9 feet)
  • Automated: 1963
  • Owner: Stornoway Port Authority
  • Designer: Alan Stevenson

Standing at the entrance to Stornoway harbour, Arnish Point Lighthouse was the Northern Lighthouse Board’s first ‘prefabricated’ lighthouse in Scotland.  Despite difficulties in finding contractors due to the remote location a fair distance from Stornoway over rough moorland and many miles from the Scottish mainland, Alan Stevenson took on the design and construction and the iron tower was cast in Renfrew in 1852 at a cost of £235.  The tower was a pillar of iron plates fixed together and lined with wood.  The lantern though was unlined and reported to be very cold in the winter.

As well as the main tower a small beacon was located on the rocks close by.  This used the Stevenson’s new technique for lighting pier heads and sunken rocks of ‘apparent light’.  A glass prism was placed in the beacon and lit by a bean projected from the shore, producing a light that appeared to emit from the beacon itself.  The beacon was first ‘lit’ at the same time as the main lighthouse and remained in use until 1902 when it was replaced by a mass concrete structure with a lantern. This remained in place until it was toppled by a storm in 1973, when it was replaced with a buoy.  A small window in the base of the main lighthouse, from where the projector would have shone, exists as the only remaining part of the original system.

Arnish Point Lighthouse was manned continually until it was automated in the 1960s, with the last keeper, Jimmy Cordiner leaving on 17 September 1963.

During its refurbishment in 2000 the lighthouse was converted from gas to solar electric operation, reducing its range from 19 nautical miles to nine nautical miles.  Ownership of the, now Grade B listed, Arnish Point Lighthouse transferred from the Northern Lighthouse Board to Stornoway Port Authority in 2008.  The Arnish Lighthouse Visitors Book (called ‘Strangers Visiting Book’), dating back to 1901, can be viewed at The Stornoway Port Authority Offices at Amity House in Stornoway during office hours.

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