The Bell Rock Lighthouse – The Oldest Sea-washed Lighthouse On The Planet

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Bell Rock Lighthouse
By Derek Robertson, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5245981

Introduction

The Bell Rock Lighthouse, located in Angus, Scotland, is one of the most interesting and unique landmarks in the country. The Bell Rock Lighthouse is one of the most iconic and well-known lighthouses in Scotland.

Situated on a small island just off the coast of Angus, it has been guiding ships since it was first built in 1811. Today, the lighthouse is still an important aid to navigation and is also a popular tourist attraction, with many visitors coming to admire its striking design and stunning location.

The lighthouse was designed by Robert Stevenson and was completed in 1811. It is the world’s oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouse. The lighthouse has been automated since 1998 and is now monitored remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board headquarters in Edinburgh.

Watercolour of the lighthouse by j m w turner scottish national gallery
Watercolour of the lighthouse by j. M. W. Turner (1819), scottish national gallery – by j. M. W. Turner – lqezojmomm-pza at google cultural institute maximum zoom level, public domain, https://commons. Wikimedia. Org/w/index. Php? Curid=21865535

The Bell Rock Lighthouse, located at the mouth of the Firth of Forth on Scotland s east coast, is one of the oldest surviving lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse was built between 1807 and 1810 by engineer Robert Stevenson and is a testament to his engineering skills.

The lighthouse is composed of three towers, each tapering towards the top. The central tower is taller than the others and contains the light. The outer towers are connected to the central tower by arches. The whole structure is built of stone blocks weighing up to two tons each.

The lighthouse stands on a small island called Inchcape, which is about 1 kilometre offshore from the nearest land. The island is exposed to strong winds and waves, making it a treacherous place for ships.

Bell rock lighthouse signal tower
Bell rock lighthouse signal tower

A brief history of the Bell Rock Lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is one of the most iconic landmarks in Scotland. It is located just off the coast of Angus, in the Firth of Forth. The lighthouse was built in 1811 and is currently owned by Historic Scotland.

The lighthouse was constructed to warn ships of the dangerous Bell Rock, a reef that had claimed many lives. The light from the lighthouse can be seen for up to 25 miles out to sea. The structure is an impressive feat of engineering, and it’s no wonder that it’s been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World.

Today, the Bell Rock Lighthouse is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can take tours of the lighthouse and learn about its history. It’s also one of the best places to see views of the Scottish coastline.

Image from page of lighthouse construction and illumination
Image from page 311 of lighthouse construction and illumination; (1881)

The design and construction of the lighthouse

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is one of the most impressive and popular attractions in Angus, Scotland. Located just offshore from the small town of Arbroath, the lighthouse has been a beacon for ships passing by since it was first built in 1811.

Standing over 100 feet tall, the lighthouse is built entirely of granite blocks that were quarried nearby. The blocks were then transported to the site by boat and assembled using an ingenious system of pulleys and winches.

Today, visitors can take a tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history and how it operated. The views from the top are also not to be missed, with panoramic views of the coastline in all directions.

The bell rock tavern at tayport harbour in north fife. The half moon painting on the wall depicts the famous bell rock lighthouse in the north sea where the waters of the tay merge.
The bell rock tavern – at tayport harbour in north fife. The half moon painting on the wall depicts the famous bell rock lighthouse in the north sea where the waters of the tay merge.

The engineering feat of building the lighthouse

In 1807, Robert Stevenson, a Scottish civil engineer and grandfather of author Robert Louis Stevenson, was tasked with building a lighthouse on the Bell Rock, a treacherous reef 11 miles offshore from the village of Arbroath in Angus, Scotland.

The project was considered an engineering feat of its time and took nearly 20 years to complete. Construction workers had to brave harsh conditions, including high winds and waves, to build the tower.

Today, the Bell Rock Lighthouse is still standing and is one of the oldest surviving sea-washed lighthouses in the world. It continues to warn ships of the dangers of the reef below and is a reminder of the skill and determination of those who built it.

The people who built the lighthouse

The people who designed and constructed the lighthouse did so with great care and precision, as the safety of ships depended on it.

The project was overseen by Robert Stevenson, a civil engineer from Edinburgh. He had previously designed several other lighthouses, but this one would be his most challenging yet.

Stevenson enlisted the help of skilled masons and craftsmen to build the lighthouse. The workers used only hand tools to cut and shape the stones for the walls of the tower.

Despite the difficult conditions and dangerous work, the construction of the Bell Rock Lighthouse was completed without any major accidents or injuries.

Robert stevenson 1772-1850 civil engineer and engineer to the northern lighthouse board. Designed and built the bell rock lighthouse.
Robert stevenson 1772-1850 – civil engineer and engineer to the northern lighthouse board. Designed and built the bell rock lighthouse.

The lightkeepers who kept the lighthouse shining

The lightkeepers who kept the lighthouse shining were a special breed of men who were dedicated to their jobs and the safety of those at sea.

These men lived on the island where the lighthouse was located and was responsible for keeping the light burning brightly each night. They endured harsh conditions, often facing high winds and waves that crashed against the rocks. But they persevered, knowing that their efforts could mean the difference between life and death for those who sailed nearby.

The lightkeepers were a vital part of maritime history and their dedication to their jobs saved countless lives over the years. Thanks to their efforts, the Bell Rock Lighthouse remains one of Scotland’s most recognizable landmarks.

Bellrock construction
Engraving of the lighthouse under construction in 1809, next to the temporary beacon that was constructed alongside it to accommodate the workers and serve as a temporary lighthouse. By robert stevenson – an account of the bell rock lighthouse – 1824, public domain, https://commons. Wikimedia. Org/w/index. Php? Curid=39536963

Here are 10 interesting facts about the Bell Rock Lighthouse:

  1. The Bell Rock Lighthouse is located on a small island called Inchcape, which is situated off the coast of Angus.
  2. The lighthouse was built in 1811 and was the first ever lighthouse to be constructed using underwater foundation blocks.
  3. The construction of the lighthouse took a total of 12 years to complete.
  4. The lighthouse itself is made of cast iron and stands at a height of 115 ft.
  5. The lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson and Robert Stevenson, who were father and son, respectively. 6. In 1807, the first stone of the lighthouse was laid down.
  6. The lighthouse was finally turned on for the first time in 1811.
  7. Over the years, the lighthouse has undergone several renovations and upgrades to make it more efficient.
  8. The lighthouse is operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board.
  9. The lighthouse was designed so that it could be seen from a distance of 24 miles away.

Stevenson’s Account – The Bell Rock

Robert Stevenson’s Account of the Building of the Bell Rock is now available in digital format. It’s a fascinating story about the dangerous rock, the construction of the beacon, railway, and light, which is the oldest sea-washed lighthouse on the globe.

Is Bell Rock Lighthouse still operational?

In 1843, the reflectors and lamps were replaced. The originals are still on display at Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, Newfoundland. Since 1988, the automated operation of the lighthouse is possible.

Further Reading

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